I've had a lot of fun answering questions over the last few years, and I hope this community has found those answers at least somewhat useful.

The character system is incredibly daunting for a beginner, and it is commonly accepted that academic subjects like paleography and linguistics are not that helpful to someone just starting, as they can't really see how the entire character system works together with these subjects - they only become useful after a few hundred characters are already learned. To that effect, sometimes I've tried to list other characters which have related features of the character being asked:

  1. What semantic notions underlie 頁 ('page') with '預' ('beforehand')?
  2. How does 殳 resemble a hand holding a tool?
  3. Any ideas on the origin of the 绍 character?
  4. Is the character 跌 (to trip) a deliberate combination of 足 (foot) and 失 (to lose)?
  5. Is the water radical sometimes three strokes and sometimes two strokes?

Question 1: Can we utilise StackExchange's tagging system to automate the listing of related characters? I'd imagine that, if every question were tagged with (say) and/or , then related characters would be automatically more discoverable. For example, the questions above would be tagged like

  1. (I know this is from Japanese SE - it's entirely a valid question on Chinese SE, though)

The huge problem I see with this is the number of tags that we'll have on Chinese SE (potentially a few thousand!), and I remember a policy from somewhere that StackExchange encourages a minimum amount of tags.

Question 2: Are there any other ideas for optimising character listing for characters with related glyph origins?

  • 1
    My experience with tags is that they need to be fairly self-explanatory [so people use them], and they need to be maintained [i.e., people need to make sure they're used properly]. I feel the tags on Chinese.SE basically need a complete overhaul (they're a total mess), and maybe we should whip up some guidelines on how to use them. (I still struggle with them.) [I feel like the "particles" tag would be better off split up into particle-了 particle-吗 etc.]
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 8:29

1 Answer 1


some observations about “glyph-origin” questions:

  • asking about glyph origin, evolvement according to simplified script
  • queries according to regular script (楷書)

for question 1, i would say no. the number of tags would be 3-4000 (oracle bone, bronze, and regular script have different components)

for question 2, i would suggest actively exploit the multi-function chinese character database (漢語多功能字庫). their oracle bone script components page & bronze script components page are well organised.

in the answer, list all relevant components, link them to the database.

further, we might explain thoroughly the six methods of character creation (象形・指事・會意・形聲・轉注・假借), as tag excerpt, or full tag wiki.

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