Cangjie Chinese Input Codes

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y

Cangjie Chinese input codes for Chinese characters are not based on the sound or pronounciation of the character. Instead they are based on the elements of the character itself. If you know the character then you can use its cangjie code to type it.

Personally I learned cangjie touch typing because it allowed me to type Traditional Chinese characters even if I didn't know their pronunciation. Plus I often found that for some sounds, there were lots of characters with that same sound and so I had to scan lots of lists to find the character that I wanted. While with cangjie codes there are some characters that share the same code, for the most part I can type the code, press enter and the desired character appears.

Thus I can "touch-type" in Chinese.

But what if you aren't interested in typing Chinese characters?

One of the difficulties with looking up Chinese characters is that you either have to know the sound/pronunciation or you have to be able to figure out its radical (or you can count strokes). These methods are alright most of the time but occasionally there are frustrating characters whose radical isn't obvious, or whose stroke count could be 12 or 13 (for example) and so you have to check in multiple places to find the character. Things are easier these days with smart phones and electronic dictionaries, but even so I thought it would be interesting (helpful) to have an alternative means of looking up Chinese characters.

Because I was interested in learning to use Cangjie input codes to type Chinese symbols I created a dictionary of cangjie codes. I sorted characters by their codes, and also by shape so that it was easier to look find a character even without knowing its full code. I realized in the process that this was actually useful as a general method for looking up Chinese characters. Hence the Cangjie dictionary.

The online version only contains the first 1000 most frequently used characters. You can use the links in the line below to scan through the different pages.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y

The pdf/epub/mobi version contains 5000 characters along with related words.

The dictionary can be a good complement to Chinese character study. (You can view a preview of the first few chapters here.) And of course if you are interested in learning to touch type then it (or the companion pdf which contains charts of the first 1500 hundred characters) may be useful learning aids.

If nothing else you get to see characters grouped in ways that you don't always see and that may help make learning Chinese easier, or more interesting.

Cangjie codes can be thought of in terms of letters or symbols as follows. (The following groups are respectively: philosophical group, stroke group, body part group, shapes group.)

a 日, b 月, c 金, d 木, e 水, f 火, g 土

  • A and B as Sun日 and Moon月.
  • C is the first letter of Cold which rhymes with gold金.
  • D is the first letter of Dead, Dead wood木.
  • E is the first letter in the word Eternal. The character for Eternal, 永 is similar to the character for water, 水.
  • F is for Fire火.
  • G is for Ground 土.

h 竹, i 戈, j 十, k 大, l 中, m 一, n 弓

  • H, the element for bamboo 竹 looks like an H.
  • i, The weapon element 戈 is easy to associate with little i since there is a dot on top.
  • J, For the cross stroke 十, I think of Jesus on a cross (j).
  • K, For the fork stroke 大, it looks a little like a k turned on its side with the legs down.
  • l, The vertical stroke 中 looks like an l.
  • M, Meanwhile I associate the horizontal stroke 一, with the chinese word 面 which means surface, and is prounounced “Mian”.
  • N, For the hook stroke, 弓, you could think of the letter “n” as being like a hook.

o人, p 心, q 手, r 口

  • O, I can’t think of how I remembered body or person 人 for o. “Oh” what is it?
  • P, For heart 心, the heart is a Pump, hence P.
  • Q, As for hand 手, for some reason it just sticks that a hand looks like a Q.
  • R, As for mouth 口, capital R has an “enclosed” shape at the top. (Actually, except for pump and heart, for all of these, I just rememebered them without any particular association!)

s尸, t 廿, u 山, v 女, w 田, y 卜

  • S, For s the element it represents 尸 looks a little like the top of an s.
  • T, The element for t, 廿, looks like a t.
  • U, Likewise the mountain 山 element looks like a sharp edged u, but with a line down the middle.
  • V looks like the “point” in the character for woman 女.
  • W, For field 田 and W, I think of Wide fields.
  • Y, And as for the code for y, 卜, It looks like a Y.

Below you can see all 24 letters and the elements that they represent (highlighted in red.)

Traditional Chinese Character Cangjie code initial elements from a to y (no x or z).

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