S.K.I.P, a Short Introduction
Jack Halpern, in his New Japanese-English
Character Dictionary, presents a very useful way to find characters that
you can see, but don't know how to pronounce.
This is a simplistic description of the method. Please see the dictionary
for a complete description.
A SKIP code is composed of three numbers, such as ``
4-8-3''. The first number indicates the visual style of the
character. For most codes, the remaining two numbers are stroke-count
Divide and Conquer: Decide the Style
Look at the character in question and decide if it can visually be divided
as (choose the first that applies):
The number that applies is the first number of the SKIP pattern.
- 1 - into left and right sides
(such as: ).
- 2 - into top and bottom parts
(such as: ).
- 3 - into an enclosing structure and an internal structure
(such as: ;
some of these can be a bit tricky).
- 4 - none of the above
(such as: ).
For styles #1, #2, and #3:
For #1, #2, and #3, count the strokes in the left/upper/enclosing part, and
then the number of strokes left in the right/lower/internal part.
These two numbers, along with the 1, 2, or 3, form your skip code.
For example, is a left/right (#1) style, so the
pattern begins ``
1-''. The left side has four strokes, and the right
half has 5, so the entire SKIP pattern is ``
If you search only via this SKIP pattern, the various characters that match
will be displayed, and from the list you can select the one in question.
The SKIP patterns for the examples shown above are, in order,
- 1: 1-3-3, 1-3-1, 1-4-5, 1-4-6, 1-1-1, 1-3-12, 1-3-3
- 2: 2-5-3, 2-5-2, 2-2-6, 2-2-2, 2-1-1, 2-3-3, 2-2-3, 2-5-4
- 3: 3-4-2, 3-3-8, 3-3-2, 3-8-3, 3-3-5, 3-2-2, 3-3-7
For style #4:
If the SKIP pattern is of style 4, count all the strokes in the character,
and then choose the first from (inserting the stroke-count where the
#'' is shown):
- 4-#-1 - has a horizontal line at the top (such as the first
two #4 examples above: 4-3-1, 4-6-1).
- 4-#-2 - has a horizontal line at the bottom
(such as the third and fourth #4 examples above: 4-3-2, 4-6-2)
- 4-#-3 - has a vertical line through
(such as the fifth and sixth #4 examples above: 4-4-3, 4-8-3).
- 4-#-4 - none
(such as the final two #4 examples above: 4-4-4, 4-3-4).
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