Systematization of the Stroke Order of Chinese Characters
: for Learning by people in the Non-Chinese Culture Area


1. Introduction

It is a barrier to learn Chinese character for people of non-Chinese culture area who study Chinese and Japanese. Some resercher say that there are 50000 of Chinese characters. In case of the foreign student in Japanese university, they need to read 1000 characters for their daily life except their special study. The problem is caused from the complexity of the 20 over strokes in a character. This is a load for reading, but also writing. The order which arranges the strokes of a character is called HITSU-JUN(BI-SHUN, stroke order). Of course, if it is possible to read written characters in no good order, there is no problem. However, a reference of the stroke order for learner is shown in Japan. This is " HITUJUN SHIDO NO TEBIKI ( The Reference of Stroke Order Education ) ". It thinks that the stroke order which was shown in this was chosen by the long history and was fixed by legibility and easy to write, easy to learn, the tradition and so on. It is possible to say that the orders on the reference is effective. Foreign students must learn the orders. It thinks very hard. But the load should be able to reduce fairly by extracting of important elements and its rule, and systematization of sequence to learn. In this study, stroke order of " HITUJUN SHIDO NO TEBIKI" are analyzed and systematized by constructive notation for systematically learning.

2. Method

First, 15 stroke patterns are defined. These are selected for the notation from many kinds strokes of Chinese characters.(fig.1a) Next, it defines the Elements. Chinese character are divided into some elements. For example, [Œκ(meaning: word)] is divided into [ŒΎ(say)][Œα(me)], and [Œα] is divided into [Œά(five)][Œϋ(mouse)]. In this study, those are defined from "existing characters", "BUSHU (existing elements for searching)", and our original elements.(fig.1b) Next, 14 kinds of direction marks as the order to write down are defined. For example, "‚d¨" means "write left element to right element".(fig.1c) It is the constructive notation that the orders of every one character are written by these three kinds of parts. There are some division levels for the construction of Chinese character. 6 levels are defined in this study. The orders of Level-x are composed by the Elements below level(x-1). Without using any elements , the order wrote with only stroke pattern is called level-1 notation. (fig.2) A characteristic of this study is that the high level notation is unraveled to low level notation automatically by computer. By such notion, the orders are analyzed with the general tool like SED and so on.

3. Results

As the result, the reduce of a learning load by systematically learning is shown by the learning quantity :

@@@@Not systematically:@(Decrease from overlap character) @@@ 50 %
@@@@@@@@@@@@@(Decrease from overlap existing elements) 67 %
@@@@Systematically@@:@(Decrease by our elements)@@@@@@ 20 %
It is expected rather effect at the practical use. Next, the rules of the stroke order are following. The order of elements "¨‚d(left to right) " and "«‚d(top to bottom)" is many in whole of the order of 1006 character. Especially, "¨‚d" account nearly half. It is caused by HEN-TSUKURI KOUZOU. And it tends to diversify and to increase "«‚d""«‚o" under level-3. It means following. If the elements from Level-1 to 3 have been studied, and know that the almost orders over level-4 is "left to right" and "top to bottom", it is adaptable to most of character. Moreover the greater part of the strokes which compose Chinese characters(1006) are vertical stroke(|) and horizontal stroke(|). And many of combination of two strokes are (\,\) and (|,b). This fact have possibility to clear the characteristic movement of Chinese writing.

4. Conclusions

These results showed the possibility to reduce the learning load by systematically arrangement of the contents and knowledge of rough rule of the stroke order. By loading the systematically learning method by this notation into CAI software , it will be very effective for the learning persons who are in the non- Chinese culture area.



Send all correspondence to Hideki OSHIKI, Faculty of Education, Kanazawa University, Kakuma, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-11, Japan. E-mail: