Explaining Functional Components — v2.0!

This post is also available in: German

This post is a bit different than previous posts. Lately, we’ve been working on more effective ways to present information and to explain our system for analyzing characters. Here are explanations for each type of functional component, which are more visual. They use color (and the lack thereof) and space in an attempt to make the explanation clearer. We’d love to hear from anyone that has any suggestions on how to improve this. Let us know what you think and don’t be afraid to let us have it!

Keep in mind, these aren’t examples of entries in our dictionary, they’re simply a visual way of explaining how functional components work. You’ll be able to use a demo version of the dictionary very soon!

Note: we’ve modified the original design a bit based on your feedback so far, whether via email, Twitter, or in the comments here. Keep it coming, we really appreciate it!





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12 comments on “Explaining Functional Components — v2.0!”

  1. Jan Reply

    Very cool! I just replied on twitter but I couldn’t make my suggestion fit into 140 chars. What I meant to say was that you could colour each component inside the character at the top with the colour associated with the type of the component. So for 想, the 相 would be green and the 心 blue.

    • Elena Reply

      The main problem, here, it’s that it hasn’t been published, yet! I’ve been waiting for something like this for years… Aside from that, I think that one or two simple example sentences would be very useful, just to put the words into a context and clarify basic shades of meaning. I am VERY IMPATIENTLY waiting for this! Good job!!

      • Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

        Hi Elena, thanks for the kind words!

        Example sentences are great, but I think that might be starting to get outside of the dictionary’s purpose a bit. For instance, if we needed to give an example sentence for 者, 嗎, or some other grammatical particle, we’d also have to explain the grammar. That’s veering a bit too far into textbook territory for us. However! Fortunately, example sentences will be at your fingertips when the dictionary is released. That’s all I can say about it for now, but you’ll find out what I mean when the Kickstarter launches!

        We’re in the very last stages of getting ready for the Kickstarter. We’ve just got a few things left to finalize, so hold tight!

    • Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

      Hi Jan, thanks for the feedback!

      Coloring each component in the head character is a cool idea. I wonder if it’s possible to implement that in the dictionary itself. We’ll have to look into it.

  2. Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

    We’ve updated the images above based on the feedback we’ve gotten so far via Twitter, email, and the comments here. Check out the new design!

  3. Kay Reply

    I apologise that I have not been following the development of this dictionary but a friend knows I am deeply into using component theory in teaching Chinese characters and he has kindly onforwarded this email to me. I have now personally subscribed to the list. I think your method of explaining the components is really good, it is very clear and I believe it will be incredibly useful and it will save me time in my preparation. I like Jan’s idea in particular. The colour coding will appeal to students and add a new and interesting dimension to the discovery of meaning via components. I look forward to seeing more of the development.

    • Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

      Thanks for the kind words! The Kickstarter will be launching very soon. There will be an interactive demo and some other cool stuff, so keep an eye out!

  4. Pingback: Chinese Characters - Functional Components you must know

  5. George Reply

    Looking forward to this, I’ve signed up for the Kickstarter $25 level. The use of colours is clever but I hope (if it finds its way into the pleco dict) that one can customise the colours used, as they’re the same ones I use in the app to indicate character tone, and my mnemonic associations are pretty well hard wired now.

    • Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

      Thanks for your support! As of now, the colors are just being used to explain the different types of functional components. They probably won’t make it into the Pleco version of the dictionary for the very reason you bring up. Namely because of Pleco’s use of color to represent tones.

  6. claus martin Reply

    I find this approach to learn Chinese writings fascinating, because it will help a lot, to learn Chinese and read its classical literature.
    I would like, if you could integrate this dictionary, like Amazon for instance integrates dictionaries in its Kindle readers.
    Then it is possible, that one can read the original literature in a foreign language and if one does not know the translation of a word, one just touches it on the screen and then the dictionary opens and one can read the translation, grammatical explanations and example sentences of it.
    With that approach one profits also from the interval learning approach ( Leitner method or flashcards ), because, if one has forgotten a word in the meatime and reads it again several pages later, one just activates it again.
    One further wish:
    Because you master all, what is needed for learning Chinese, it would also be very helpful, if you could use your know how, to prepare a similar dictionary for BlissSymbolics. BlissSymbolics could be an excellent global communication method, but it is negected since several decades.

    • Outlier Linguistic Solutions Reply

      Hi Claus,

      Thanks for the kind words! Pleco actually has a Reader module which has the kind of functionality you’re talking about. But if you’re talking about integrating it across apps, that’s a question you should direct at Pleco.


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