why is stroke order in chinese/japanese important?

If you’re using a pen or even more so if you use a brush, why would the order in which you lay down strokes in Chinese/Japanese writing matter?

It makes it easier to read. If you’re reading hand written stuff (particularly messy hand written stuff), it’s easier to figure out what the character is if you know how it’s drawn.

Hmmm, I’ll see if I can find a good example of hand written characters to show you…

When I started learning Chinese, I would sometimes get the stroke order wrong. Without fail, my professor would spot it and correct me. He never explained why stroke order was important, but he certainly could see it.

Like golf and tennis, the follow-through after you hit the ball/paper is important. Each stroke flows to the next, so when you follow throuh to the wrong direction (i.e. if the pen/brush doesn’t head towards the correct next stroke), it looks unnatural.

OK, here are some examples of different hand writing: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. (BTW, these are all short notes manga artists have written to their fans. Nothing real exciting.) You can see how the characters can get kinda messy. Knowing the stroke order make 'em easier to figure out…

I don’t understand how it makes it easier to figure them out. In anycase, the question was about why writing them in stroke order is good.

Because a lot of times, when people write quickly, the stokes are incomplete or maybe they look rounded when they should have been a sharp corner or, like you often see in fancy calligraphy, the writer won’t completely lift the pen or brush from the page between strokes and one stroke will flow into the next. If you use the correct stroke order, you’ll tend to make the same mistakes other people using that stroke order would make. And the lines connecting the strokes will all be in the same places.

It is also an important pedantic tool. It lets you show students how to write a character appropriately and to have something to say besides, “It looks like you copied it wrong.”

If I recall correctly, stroke order also allows ordering of characters for looking up words in a dictionary.

This rings true to me. I can’t make heads or tails of running script, but if there were no stroke order, I think it’d literally be a bunch of scribbles.

Check out the last picture on this page: http://www.fashionnite.com/arts/vc00wax.html
With the exception of “da4” (on the top row, third from the left) I can barely make out anything else without some guessing, but what I can make out is only comprehensible because of its similarity to how I’d write a character. Like, the second character below “da4” looks like “jin1” only because if I were to write that without lifting the pen, it’d look a lot like that. That being said, I’m not 100% sure that it is jin, anyways. And don’t even ask about the second column. :confused:

Chinese gal here. As far as I can tell, here are some more reasons why standardized stroke order matters:

  • it makes for pretty calligraphy, especially with a brush.
  • helps memorizing how to write.

Ditto on the dictionary thing. I don’t know how it works, but there is some sort of way to look up Chinese (and type it up on a computer) via stroke order that’s supposedly the most efficient.

What I have noticed is that when I mess up the order on a character, it looks wrong; The proportions are wrong, the ink blots are wrong. It is legible, but wrong. A lot of is it rote learning. My chinese friends are more than happy to correct my pensmanship–That’s the way their elementary teachers taught them.

Dictionary is based on the form (the root form in the character) and the number of additional strokes. If there are 4 roots in a character, it can be difficult to figure out which one it is. This is the hard part.

One of my friends said that asians (Chinese and Kanji using Japanese) are smarter because they use more of their brain when they read/write. It is certainly a different process that I’m using right now.

I don’t know about smarter but there is recent research on dyslexia that shows a different region of the brain is used to read and write kanji as compared to an alphabet.

Ditto on the notion that if you get the stroke order wrong, it just won’t look nice. The characters, when written properly, are far less ‘schematic’ than Roman letters - rather than precise locations and angles, the character should exist as a harmonious, dynamic whole. The same part may, in different characters, be located higher or lower, may be drawn wider or narrower, and its strokes may be shortened or lengthened to fit each position it’s used in.

The characters are heavily influenced by millenia of aesthetic refinement, and the stroke orders originally developed to make it easier to avoid smudging when writing with a brush. The stroke orders became rigid rules, and they carry over to hard-pen calligraphy and normal writing. The shapes that the characters took were influenced by their stroke order, and in turn you simply won’t get attractive, proportioned characters if you draw the parts out of order. Stroke order is also, as mentioned above, the basis for the more cursive xingshu and caoshu stripts. It’s used for some computer input methods, as mentioned, thought I couldn’t begin to tell you what those were.

On the appearance of strokes in relation to each other, I guess that makes a lot of sense as I wouldn’t write a B with the 3 first and the l second. The l stroke lets me know where in relation to the rest the 3 goes. If that makes sense. The lines between strokes issue also makes sense. THanks.