The Origins of Chinese Characters (Mandarin Chinese Edition) : This review is from: The Origins of Chinese Characters (Paperback)I cannot begin to express how thankful I am that my first semester reading teacher at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou introduced me to this reference source. She was using it in her own doctoral level Chinese language studies at Zhejiang University and showed it to me when I expressed my interest and need to understand the characters that I was learning in order to fully assimilate them into my memory. As an older student with less aptitude for rote memorization this was essential to my success.Wang Hongyuan's text's content is organized by domains of human life (man, nature, hunting and agriculture, craftsmanship, etc.) that the concepts described by the Chinese characters relate to. It's a bit awkward at first for the western mind, oriented to linear alphabetical organization, to follow this method of organization; but since the written Chinese language developed around these domains, expressed as radicals, it's really a very logical and helpful way to organize this text. It allows the reader to view nearby entries which are related to the one being researched and develop a broader understanding of the character being studied and its place in related language. I found it to be quite an enjoyable book to use and selfishly wished that it could have contained even more characters to enjoy reading about. The book has two indices, one using pinyin and characters for each entry, and the other using English.Each entry contains an incredible amount of helpful information if you take the time to look and explore it. In addition to the English explanation of the origin of the pictograph/character throughout thousands of years of history, related characters are presented which also use the same main component; but with other initial radical components.