E3 Character Map, 1593 Traditional Chinese Characters
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E3 Character Map, 1593 Traditional Chinese Characters

About the Book

Character maps are large grids of Chinese characters sorted by shape.

One of the main challenges with learning Chinese characters is inefficient indexing for beginners. Usual character indexes rely on some knowledge of radicals, stroke count, stroke types or pronunciation. 

Character maps use consistent shape based indexing to sort and group characters. This makes specific characters easy to find. It can also provides contexts for making particular aspects of particular characters easy to remember.

Due to the constraints of paper, traditional indexes tend to include page numbers or entry numbers where you find all the details about that entries character.

With character maps, the index itself contains information about the character as well as the character itself.

1593 Traditional Chinese characters

The 1593 series of character maps includes 1593 Traditional Chinese characters. These are all characters that appear in the context of words. So learning them is a little like learning the alphabet. Plus these 1593 characters are all fitted onto a single a0 (reduceable and printable on a1 size) page. However, there are three pages. Each includes different details.

  • The first page focuses on cangjie input codes.
  • The second on pinyin, radical and stroke count.
  • The third on English definitions.

Like Giant Flash Cards

The reason for spreading this information across different pages is so that each page can fit the aforementioned 1593 characters.

Because of space constraints, for characters with more than one pronunciation, only one is included.

In addition, for English definition, only one possible definition is included. This definition ideally captures the essential meaning of the character.

As such these posters can act like giant sets of flashcards with the advantage that you can see characters with the same, or similiar, elements grouped together.

As for cangjie input codes, what are they?

Cangjie codes are a shape based method for inputting Chinese characters. They use a maximum of 5 elements and when you learn the cangjie input method you can essentially type any Chinese character even if you don't know it's pronunciation.

And that is one of the key drivers of these character maps, to help make it easy for you to learn the Cangjie input method.

With this method you have the freedom to input characters which means you can use google translate and other web based resources easily. And if you already know how to touch type, this method lends itself to touch typing Chinese characters. That's because there are 24 basic elements, and each of these maps to one of 24 letters of the English alphabet.

Sorting Chinese Characters Alphabetically by Shape?

Note that because cangjie input codes map to letters of the English alphabet, they also provide a method for indexing and sorting Chinese characters by shape. (And alphabetically by shape too!) And that is the basis of the C1 and C3 series of character maps.

C1 and C3 indexing differences

The C1 series sorts characters by the initial element of their cangjie input code. As a result you'll see characters that begin with the same element grouped together.

The C3 series sorts characters by their final element. As a result you'll see characters that end in the same element grouped together.

E1 and E3 indexing

An alternative shape based indexing system is called the Easy lookup system. This system uses 12 basic shapes to index and group characters together. As with using cangjie input codes for indexing, characters can be sorted via their initial element and their final element.

Unlike cangjie input codes, the easy lookup system is not an input system for Chinese characters.

That being said, it can make character lookup a little bit easier than the cangjie system because there are only 12 elements, versus 24.

All four series taken together provide slightly different "views" of the same 1593 Traditional Chinese characters.

Note the sample pdf is provided in the same size. The sample PDF also show all three sheets but with only about 200 characters as opposed to 1593.

1593 c1 characters map

1593 c3 character map

1593 E1 character map

About the Author

Neil Keleher
Neil Keleher

Hi, I'm Neil Keleher

I’ve been a yoga teacher for about 20 years.

I have a degree in systems design engineering from the University of Waterloo.

Prior to that I served for five years in the British army as an armourer.

As a yoga teacher I teach my students how to feel and control their body. In this context I’m like a driving instructor for your body.

One of my other hats is “indexing specialist”. One of my current ongoing projects under this hat is designing an easy to use indexing system for Chinese characters.

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