Besides the 100% word root system which was hidden for all those years, Chinese word system was studied very extensively from and very intensively in all directions. The following five books are the representations of those efforts.
- 爾 雅 , it was edited by Confucius. That is, it is more than 2,600 years old. It was a beginner's book, having over 5,000 words. It takes the form of synonym thesaurus.
- 說 文 解 字 , it was published around 150 a.d. , a time far removed (at least, two thousand years) from the creation of the Chinese word system. It is almost a book of word root system. It used the 部 首 (leading radicals) system, having 9,353 words. Because 20% of its explanations on words were wrong (in terms of the word structure, not in meaning), the word root system was buried in those errors.
- 康 熙 字 典 , it was commissioned by Emperor 康 熙 around 1665 a.d.. More than 300 scholars worked on it over 15 years. Google search was invented at this time while the searching was done manually. Over one million books were searched for every single word on its usage and its derived meaning. All genuine usages and meanings on any word are accepted in this dictionary. A word can sometimes have 20 different meanings and 10 different pronunciations. It collected over 50,000 words. This is the Bible on Chinese words.
- 詩 韻 集 成 , its book form appeared around 900 a.d.. Yet, it was extensively used around 600 a.d.. In Chinese language, there are 16 vowels and 21 consonants. In this book, words are classified into the groups according to its vowel and its consonant. This book collected over 40,000 words.
- 對 韻 , when it was published is not clear. It is a list of contrasted words thesaurus, especially in terms of their vowels.
One hundred and fifty years ago, those five books must be memorized by any learned scholar. Today, almost not a single college graduate (not in Chinese language department) ever touched those five books. That is, in terms of Chinese writing language, those native Chinese college graduates are all in the commoner class. I am showing one sample page of a modern Chinese dictionary below. For every word, it listed only one meaning and one pronunciation. Yet, most of them knows only one-tenth of the words in that dictionary. As a burn-in culture, the culture energy is implanted in them without demanding their knowledge on the writing language. Yet, for a foreigner without the burn-in, he will not easily capture the essence of Chinese culture if he does not know the details of Chinese writing language.