During the Han Dynasty
B.C. to 220 A.D.) around 100 A.D. a book titled Shuowen jiezi
published. It was about the origins of Chinese characters. The author Xu Shen
compiled 9353 characters in what is known as the first dictionary of Chinese
later in 1716, the well known classic of Chinese dictionaries, The Kangxiwas
published. The Dictionary of Chinese Characters or Kangxi
ou Kangxi Zidian
about 50000 (46964) characters compiled in 42 booklets. It was published
during the Qing Dynasty(1662-1723).
Most of the 46964 characters compiled were unused and rare characters found in
historical writings. Those characters were regrouped under 214 radicals
in use today in many dictionaries to classified characters in their traditional
The first official list of simplified form characters appeared in 1956. Many
additions and modifications to the original list were adopted since. The list
included 6500 simplified characters. Nowadays the simplified form characters are
used in China and in Singapore. The traditional form characters are still use in
Taiwan, in Hong Kong and in most of the overseas Chinese communities.
The Chinese computerized fonts for words processor include 6500 characters for
the simplified form and 13500 for the traditional form.
© Michel Parent, January 18th 2003.