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A Chinese radical (Chinese: 部首; pinyin: bùshǒu; lit. 'section header') or indexing component is a graphical component of a Chinese character under which the character is traditionally listed in a Chinese dictionary. This component is often a semantic indicator similar to a morpheme, though sometimes it may be a phonetic component or even an artificially extracted portion of the character. In some cases the original semantic or phonological connection has become obscure, owing to changes in character meaning or pronunciation over time.

In the traditional Chinese character "mother". The left part is the radical 女 "female". The character is the semantic component of a phono-semantic compound (形聲字}, and the right part, 馬 "horse", is the phonetic component.

The English term "radical" is based on an analogy between the structure of characters and inflection of words in European languages.[lower-alpha 1] Radicals are also sometimes called "classifiers", but this name is more commonly applied to grammatical classifiers (measure words).[2]

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