6. We now come to the written character, which the student must for the time be pleased to accept as made up of two parts, its Radical, and that part which is not its Radical. The latter part various sinologues have for fairly sufficient reasons agreed to term its Phonetic. In a large majority of words the phonetic indicates the sounds, that is to a certain extent. The radical, with a like limitation, indicates the category of the sense.
The radicals are 214 in number. Some of them are subject to modifications which entirely change their figure. The following General Table shows them arranged in 17 classes, according to the number of pencil strokes in each radical; that is, the radicals of one stroke in the first class, those of two in the second, and so on. Many radicals in the latter classes will be seen to be made up of radicals of fewer strokes, e.g., 109, 180, 209.
Before each radical is a number marking its place in the general series, the name of the character so numbered, and its tone; after the character, its meaning, and then a number of characters, never exceeding three, which have been selected as illustrating the part that the radical after which they stand generally plays in the composition of characters, whether in its full or its modified form. The radicals that undergo modification are marked with an asterisk (*); and their modified forms are collected at the end of the General Table. This list of modified forms should be consulted as the radicals are being acquired.
The character, it has been said above, consists of its radical and its phonetic. Let the student turn to Radical 3 and he will see in the character given to illustrate its part in the composition that the radical chu, a point, stands on the top of it. The remainder, three horizontal strokes and a vertical one, are its phonetic. Let him turn to the 12th Radical, pa, eight, and he will see that it is placed under the phonetic in the characters given as examples. In the examples opposite the 64th Radical, shou, the hand, the radical stands in the first example, in full form, on the left of the phonetic; in the second, in modified form, also on the left; in the third, in full form, underneath the phonetic.
To look out a character in the dictionaries arranged according to radicals, it is essential, of course, in the first place to decide correctly under what radical it is classed. This point assured,—and the knowledge necessary to this end is sooner attained by practice than might be supposed,—the number of strokes in the phonetic must be accurately counted, because in the dictionaries in question the characters under each radical are subdivided into classes, according to the number of strokes in the phonetic. The counting of these, even where they are numerous, will not be found so formidable a task once the student becomes familiar with the radicals, for he will observe that the phonetic is either resolvable into other radical characters, or, in some instances, is simply a single radical character added to the radical;