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Chinese Characters

The Chinese written language utilize Chinese characters (漢字/汉字 pinyin: hànzì), which are logograms: each symbol stands for a semanteme or morpheme (a significant part of language), as well as one syllable; the written language can thus be expressed as a morphemo-syllabic script.

Chinese characters revolutionize eventually from initial structure of hieroglyphs. The thought that all Chinese characters are either pictographs or ideographs is invalid: the majority of the characters include phonetic branch, and are compound of phonetic components and semantic Radicals. Only the easy as pie characters, such as ren 人 (human), ri 日 (sun), shan 山 (mountain), shui 水 (water), may be completely pictorial from initial source. In 100 AD, the famed scholar Xǚ Shèn in the Hàn Dynasty classified characters into 6 categories, namely pictographs, simple ideographs, compound ideographs, phonetic loans, phonetic compounds and derivative characters.

Of these, only 4% as pictographs, and 80-90% as phonetic complexes consisting of a semantic element that indicates meaning, and a phonetic element that arguably once indicated the pronunciation. There are about 214 radicals recognized in the Kangxi Dictionary, which symbolize what the character is about semantically.

Modern characters are mould after the standard script (楷书/楷書 kǎishū) (see styles, below). A variety of other written styles are also used in East Asian calligraphy, together with seal script (篆书/篆書 zhuànshū), cursive script (草书/草書 cǎoshū) and clerical script (隶书/隸書 lìshū). Calligraphy artists can write in traditional and simplified characters, but for traditional art uses only the traditional characters.

Chinese characters are at present following two systems. The traditional system is still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. The Simplified Chinese character system, refined by the PRC Mainland China in 1954 to promote mass literacy, simplifies most com3plex traditional glyphs to lesser strokes, many to common caoshu shorthand variants, with a bigger pool of matching characters.

A well-educated Chinese today is familiar with approximately 6,000-7,000 characters; around 3,000 of these characters are must to recognize in order to read a Mainland newspaper. The PRC government describes literacy amongst workers as knowledge of 2,000 characters, though this literacy could be pretty useful. A big and absolute dictionary like the Kangxi Dictionary contains over 40,000 characters, including difficult to understand, variant and ancient characters; only a quarter are now commonly used.


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