The complexity of Chinese orthography has hindered the progress of research in Chinese to the same level of sophistication of that in alphabetic languages such as English. Also, there has been no publicly available resource concerning the decomposition of Chinese characters, which is essential in any attempt to model the cognitive processes of Chinese character recognition. Here we report our construction and analysis of a Chinese lexical database containing the most frequent phonetic compounds decomposed into semantic and phonetic radicals according to Chinese etymology. Each radical was further decomposed into basic stroke patterns according to a Chinese transcription system, Cangjie (Chu, 1979 Laboratory of chu Bong-Foo Retrieved August 25, 2004, from http://www.cbflabs.com/). Other information such as pronunciation and character frequency were also incorporated. We examine the distribution of different types of character, the information skew in phonetic compounds, the relations between subcharacter orthographic units and the pronunciation of the entire character, and the processing implications of these phenomena in terms of universal psycholinguistic principles.