6

Most of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese people that I speak to say that there are only two strokes in 子 and 辶, saying that nobody does it using three strokes. Yet, on every single official source (Chinese government sources, Japanese dictionaries, online dictionaries) it shows each element with three strokes.

If the people do it one way and the official sources do it another way, what is the correct way to do it?

In Japan, there is no official government-mandated stroke order for each character, which means that the official stroke order is decided by the collective will of the people. Does this even matter?

  • 1
    Carefully consider the native language you write in. There are official stroke counts for each of the letters or characters in your language as well. They teach those stroke counts and stroke order at school, yet I'm fairly sure that fluent writers wouldn't obey them. – droooze Jan 31 at 0:04
  • When you ask people, are you asking about jotting a note? Doing calligraphy? Teaching an elementary school class? Does it matter to what you want to know? – Leebo Jan 31 at 2:52
5

Most of the Chinese, Korean and Japanese people that I speak to say that there are only two strokes in 子 and 辶, saying that nobody does it using three strokes.

Well, one thing is for sure, all of the people you spoke to who attended school would have learned these characters with 3 strokes, because officially (education ministries, etc.) they have 3 strokes in Japanese Kaisho (楷書{かいしょ}), Chinese 楷書 (both simplified and traditional) as well as Korean 楷書 Hanja. Kaisho is the name of the type of calligraphy that has been standard for Chinese characters in public education for a long time.

Yet, on every single official source (Chinese government sources, Japanese dictionaries, online dictionaries) it shows each element with three strokes. If the people do it one way and the official sources do it another way, what is the correct way to do it?

Scholars and the government promote and teach an official ideal ("correct") system of writing and the people use it in daily life. What is correct may depend on the circumstances and what is required.

For instance, if you answer that 子 has two strokes instead of three on an elementary school writing test in Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore etc. your answer will be marked as incorrect by your teacher. However, if you personally write a letter to someone named Keiko (圭子) and you write the second character without lifting your pen, it's unlikely that she won't be able to read it.

enter image description here enter image description here

In Japan, there is no official government-mandated stroke order for each character, which means that the official stroke order is decided by the collective will of the people. Does this even matter?

The Japanese government has published guidelines which are followed by almost every publisher and educational institution in the country and these include the number of strokes in each of the Joyo Kanji. I would say that whether it matters to a learner of Japanese probably depends on their goals in learning to write, just like it does for someone learning to write in English.

2

To expand on user27280's answer, it also matters whether you ever want to find things in a kanji / hanzi dictionary using stroke count as a lookup index. The 子 character is clearly listed in character dictionaries as having three strokes (such as the Wiktionary entry here, so if you try to look up this character or any of its derivatives, and you only count two strokes, you'll never find what you're looking for.

0

This question is a bit off-topic. This regards whether authoritative sources are more valid than non-authoritative sources, which can apply to any language and many fields of study.

Whether it matters or not is up to you. The 'proper' way to do something and the way it is done are two different things.
So, to answer your question: Person A thinks doesn't matter and person B thinks it does matter. When scholars decide one thing and most laypeople decide another, who do you listen to? It's your choice.

Are there benefits to doing it one way versus the other? Potentially, yes. If you want to become a master calligrapher or an expert in any specific discipline, definitely.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.