Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stroke Order 

I asked May today how she had found that character so quickly last time when neither of us knew the pinyin and her machine did not have a screen. She told me that she used stroke order. I hadn't thought of that. Her electronic dictionary does not have a screen where she can write the character, but it does have the basic stroke keys, which you can use to find the character by a process of elimination. I have the same thing on my cell phone. If I select "Text Message," and then select "Write New," I can then set the language to Chinese, and the input method to "Stroke" instead of "Pinyin." The first five keys have a specific stroke that can be used to identify a character. When you have text messaging set to "Stroke," the "1" key is used to denote a horizontal line. The "2" key is used for a vertical line, and so on. If you press one of these five keys, you can select from all the characters that start with that stroke. If you press another one of the keys, all characters that do not start with those exact two strokes will be eliminated. As you progress, more and more characters are eliminated. Even though there are thousands of characters in Chinese, if you know the first three or four strokes or five or six strokes, you can eliminate most of the characters, so that you are down to just a few.

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