Chinese Characters

BY CchattyArticleComprehensive Chinese
Release time:2017-12-20
Tag: Chinese Characters Learn Chinese
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Chinese characters have over 4,000 years, evolved over thousands of years, now 3,500 characters commonly used. And Chinese writing is like drawing.
part 1

Chinese Characters

chinese characters

Chinese characters are Chinese writing words, have also been borrowed for writing, such as Japanese, Vietnam, Korean language. It is one of the Chinese character culture widely used words. It is also a highly developed morpheme character.

Chinese characters are one of the oldest words in the world. At least four thousand years old, the earliest known sophisticated Chinese character system is the oracle of Shang dynasty. In the form, Chinese characters gradually changed from shapes to strokes, pictographs become symbols, and complexity grows simple. The total number of Chinese characters now exceeds 100, 000; there are 3500 characters commonly used.

After thousands of years of evolution, Chinese characters have formed the "seven characters of Chinese characters" namely: Oracle, jinwen, seal script, official script, cursive script, regular script, and running script.

part 2

Chinese and Chinese Characters

Chinese  Characters-Chinese and Chinese Characters

The invention of Chinese characters has kept China's history forever. Chinese people are very fond of using words to record their history. Most of the family has a genealogical record, documenting the key events that have occurred in their families for hundreds of years or even thousands of years. Each place has local records documenting the strange and unusual events that have taken place in the area. Every dynasty has a history of history, recording the significant events that have happened in the country and recording the actions and actions of the Kings.

Chinese people like to use Chinese characters not only to record their history but also to give more cultural connotations to Chinese characters. Thus, the Chinese turned Chinese Characters into calligraphy and writing became an artistic activity. Sometimes we say that writing Chinese is like drawing pictures.

part 3

The invention of the Chinese characters

Chinese  Characters- the invention of the Chinese characters

Cangjie created the characters (仓颉造字说): In legend, there was a figure in remote antiquity named CangJie who was an official historian of Huangdi (known as the Yellow Emperor). It said that he had four eyes, and the upper two were for watching the sun, the moon, and the stars while the lower 2 for watching mountains, rivers, beasts, and birds. In addition, it was he, as the legend goes, who had created the Chinese characters according to the shapes of all things. Therefore, he has the title of “Sage of Character-creation,” as later generations addressed him. Nevertheless, it is improbable for any single person to create a complicated character system at one time. Many people gradually in the long process of invention, accumulation, and evolution develop the characters

The invention of the Chinese characters-Archaeological discovery

    Archaeological discovery:

According to archaeological finds, before the creation of Chinese characters, there were "knot rope," “the Eight Diagrams," "picture," "text" and so on. The modern research that Chinese characters come from collective wisdom. If Cangjie exists, he should be the sort of collation and promulgation of Chinese characters. With the progress of archaeology, we found the more historic site. Also for the origin and origin of Chinese characters offers evidence that is more new.

Through the systematic investigation and comparison, China's 19 archaeological cultures, we unearthed with more than 100 historic sites the engraving symbols. We think China's earliest engraving marks are from the location of the present human wuyang Jia Lake, which has a history of more than 8,000 years. From the unearthed characters of archaeological excavations, we found the Chinese character system formally formed in the central plains. In addition, the first matured words appeared in the Shang dynasty (1700 -1100 BC).

part 4

The development of Chinese Characters

Chinese  Characters-Oracle Bone Inscription

  • Oracle Bone Inscription  甲骨文

The oldest Chinese inscriptions are the Oracle bone script 甲骨文(BC.14-11). Most of Oracle Bone Inscription are divination records, engraved on the tortoise shells or animal bones. It found about 150,000 pieces of bone, more than 4,500 words. As recorded in the Oracle content is extremely rich, involves in many aspects of social life, including not only the political, military, culture, social customs, etc., and related to astronomy, calendar, medicine and science, and technology. From the roughly 1,500 characters that Oracle has identified, it has acquired the " Hieroglyphic Characters, Self-explanatory Characters(指事), Associative Characters(会意), Pictophmetic characters(形声 ), and borrowed" methods, which show the unique charm of Chinese characters. Chinese Shang dynasty and early Western Zhou dynasty (about 16th~10th century BC), anciently written with tortoiseshell and animal bone as a carrier of literature.

  • Bronze Inscriptions  金文

Bronze Inscriptions refers to the inscription on the bronze ware of Yin Zhou (1600bc), also known as “Zhou ding wen.” Shang Zhou is the time of bronze ware. The ding represents the instrument of bronze ware, the bell represents the instrument, and "Zhong ding" is the pronoun of bronze ware. Therefore, the name of Zhong ding wen or is the inscription on or Bronze Inscriptions engraved on the bronze ware. The so-called bronze is the alloy of copper and tin. In the Xia dynasty, China entered the Bronze Age, and copper smelting and copper production were very developed. Because the bronze is also called gold, the inscription on the bronze is called "jinwen" or "jijinwen(吉金文).”Because this kind of copper is the number of words on the clock, so it used to be called "Zhong ding wen."

The era of the application of jinwen was in the early period of the Shang dynasty, and the Qin dynasty (221 BC) destroyed the six countries. Ronggeng records the number of characters in “A Collection of Inscriptions on Ancient Bronze Objects” which has 3,722 characteristics, and we can still identify 2,420 characteristics.

  • Seal Script 篆书

It can also be called as “Script of Qin,” including “Dazhuan(大篆)” and “Xiaozhuan(小篆).” At the beginning of the Qin Dynasty, The First Emperor contended the idea that the written script should be standardized in form because the character forms were different from area to area in Zhou time.

  • Dazhuan(大篆)

In the late Western Zhou dynasty, the spring and autumn and warring states periods were at the start of Qin. The font is similar to Qin zhuan, but the shape of the glyphs overlap. A representative for this is inscriptions on drum-shaped stone blocks, exist in Zhou Xuan king (827bc-781bc) seeks Zhou book by the name. He made the reform by the original characters because it was engraved on the drum of the name, is the earliest engraved inscription, for the stone engraving ancestor.

  • Xiaozhuan(小篆)

Xiaozhuan also called "qin zhuan." In the Qin dynasty history (280bc-208bc), instructed to unify the characters, which is Xiaozhuan. The body is long, evenly round, and formed by the Dazhuan. Then Qin Empire simplified to eliminate the strange characteristics of the other six countries and create the unified writing form of Chinese characters. It was in the last years of the Western Han dynasty that official Script gradually replaced it. However, due to its beautiful handwriting, calligrapher always liked it. Moreover, because of its complex strokes. On the making seal, especially need security official seal has been using the Xiaozhuan, until the feudal dynasty burial, we found the modern new anti-counterfeiting technology. The Kangxi dictionary uses Xiaozhuan on all the characters.

Chinese  Characters-Seal Script2

  • Official Script 隶书

Official Script is an ancient style of calligraphy current in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D.220).

The seal script evolved to the official Script, the main change is the stroke of the seal script to the square. Because it is difficult to draw the circular strokes with the paint on the wood, so the writing speed of Official Script is faster than seal script.

Formal the name of Official Script came from the Eastern Han dynasty. The emergence of the official script is another significant reform of Chinese characters, which has brought Chinese calligraphy art into a new realm. It is a kick point in the history of Chinese characters and laid the foundation for the Regular Script.

  • Regular Script 楷书

It said that the Regular Script emerged in the Later Han period. It is more beautiful and uncomplicated, and it could set as a good example for writing. So it is called “Kaishu” in Chinese because “Kai” means good examples.

 Also, famous calligraphers such as Yan Zhenqing(颜真卿) and Liu Gongquan(柳公权) left quantities of masterpieces for us. The development of Chinese characters grew to a higher level.

  • Cursive Script 草书

Cursive Script includes Zhangcao, Jincao, and Kuangcao, all hard to recognize. Zhangcao emerged at Zhang emperor of Eastern Han; it strokes is rules to follow. Jincao appeared at the end of the Later Han period with unobstructed scrip. In the Tang dynasty, people created the Kuangcao, with uninhibited wild cursive. Cursive script is a type of typeface produced for the convenience of characters. It starts at the beginning of Han. At the time, it was the "grass li," which was the scribbled script. Gradually developed to form a "Zhangcao" with artistic value. At the end of the Han dynasty, Zhang Zhi changed the "zhang cao" to "jincao." In Tang dynasty zhang xu, his changed the "jincao”to a variety of "kuangcao."

Chinese  Characters-Cursive Script

  • Running Script  行书

It emerged at the end of the Eastern Han period. It is a kind of form of Regular Script and Cursive Script. It has high artistry and practicality. In the late Eastern Han dynasty, people produced the Running Script; it is a kind of font between Regular Script and Cursive Script. Regular script writing is slow, and the Cursive Script is not easy to identify. Therefore, people created the running script; it is not like Cursive Script scrawled and not like Regular Script hard writing.

part 5

The formation of Chinese Characters

Chinese  Characters-The formation of Chinese Characters

The composition of Chinese characters refers to the method to create the Chinese characters. The Ancient Chinese practice of creation there are four categories: pictograph (shape), self-explanatory (mean), semasiography (knowing), and Pictophonetic. The current compared with the ancient Chinese characters, and there are some individual cases.

Hieroglyphic Characters(象形),this creation method is closer to the picture, but complicated things, abstract concept can't pictograph, so rely on pictograph can create very few characters, but it is the basis of the formation of Chinese characters. Such as sun, moon, mountain, water and so on, the first is the picture of the sun, moon, elevation, and rain gradually evolved into the present shape.

The melon is a pictograph. In the word "melon," the two left-falling stroke means the vine, the middle vertical hook represents the melon, and the right-falling stroke represents the leaf. The term "Cucurbitaceous" is the meaning of "melon."(瓜) In real life, there are many things like melon shape, for example, a "melon cap" is a kind of hat; A watermelon boat is a kind of ship; "Like cut the melon," the fate of the melon is to be divided, which leads to the meaning.

People use "divide" to mean partition or distribution. Also refers to some significant powers united to divide the land of weak or underdeveloped countries.

Self-explanatory Characters(指事), The way to form a character using symbols to indicate the character's meaning is called "Self-explanatory Characters. “The Self-explanatory Characters is an abstract form of writing, which is specific means abstractly, and when it is not or inconvenient to draw it with a concrete image.

There are two types of indication; one is purely symbolic, the other type is to add a symbol to the hieroglyphic character. Here, the "一" is not the numeric. For instance, a knife (刀) with an additional dot indicates where the blade is. The left and right in "人" indicate armpits. The dots here are all indication symbol.

Associative Characters(会意), Characters formed with two or more independent characters to indicate a new meaning are called Associative Characters. 

Chinese  Characters - Associative Characters

For instance, Good = a daughter and a son. That means only we have both son and daughter, the life than to be perfect. And more, here:

1) 木(tree) with 亻(people component) means 休 (to rest)

2)  氵(water component) with two 步(footprints) means 涉 (to wade)

3)  口(mouth) with 鸟(bird) and means鸣 (to chirp);

4)  宀(house) with 火(fire) inside means 灾 (to disaster);

5)  亻(people component) with a 戈(knife)means 伐 (to chop);

6)  A man亻(people component) lying in bed百 in a house宀 (house) means宿 "to live at."

Pictophmetic characters(形声), consist of meanings components and pronunciation components. Pictophmetic characters have many productive advantages, better than another formation method. Among which is the unifying of a combination of form and meaning.  Such as "月+要=腰; 月+干=肝; 月+土=肚"Among the above characters,"要," “干” and "土" indicates the pronunciation of the characters; "月" indicates human or animal body parts and organs, it is a picture-radical. According to statistics, Pictophonetic Characters account for about 90% of Chinese characters.

part 6

Adaptation to other languages

Chinese  Characters-Adaptation to other languages

Chinese culture had a significant influence on surrounding countries, forming a Chinese character Culture circle that use Chinese characters together. In Japan, Vietnam, and the Korean, Chinese Characters fused into their language.


Japanese character is the Chinese character used in writing; another name is Kanji. The Chinese characters are almost identical to those used in Chinese. Chinese words in Japanese can be written in Chinese characters, while Japanese words can be expressed in Chinese, meaning similar meanings. Because in Japan there are multiple levels of borrowing, one Character may have several Japanese phonetics.

The written Japanese also includes a syllable called kana, which is to simplify Chinese characters to denote the syllables of Japanese. Syllables are different because they sometimes choose different syllables because they use different strategies to reduce these Characters to facilitate writing.


In Vietnamese today, Chinese borrowings account for about 70 percent of the total vocabulary of Vietnamese. The pronunciation of these Chinese borrowings is entirely on the rule of the Chinese language, which has been influencing the Vietnamese. In Vietnamese, except for other foreign language borrowings, monosyllabic roots derived the composition of words; and which have different similarities with Chinese. Chinese syllables have the corresponding form, and each Chinese character has a fixed spelling in the text.

For example, “Trang” in the Vietnamese language in addition to the original Chinese meaning of "village," "costume," "solemn," "adorn" added "page code," "flatland," "clean" and other meanings. “Can” in the Vietnamese language, borrowed from original Chinese meaning of "dry," "liver." In the Vietnamese language in addition to the literal meaning of Chinese vocabulary, added some words, like the "be implicated in," "relationship" and "connection," "break up."


Around the 2nd century BC, Korean introduced Chinese characters. South Korea has been using Chinese Characters for more than two thousand years. In such a long time, of course, the impact of Chinese characters is inexplicable. Only about 70 percent of today's Korean words are the facts of the Chinese word.

Therefore, we can say that the Chinese characters deeply integrated into Korean life and have become an integral part of Korean culture.

Korean characters have only one source, from China. Before the middle of the 15th century, the Chinese characters have always been the only writing system of the Korean peninsula, although local language "proverbs" was invented, in official documents and publications, Chinese characters are still unshakable status.

part 7

Chinese input method

Chinese  Characters-Chinese input method

We could practice the Chinese input with the online tool, as long as we know some basic Pinyin. Type the Pinyin, and then in the right box, the machine will propose some Chinese characters corresponding to we typed. So we can choose anyone we want to sort.

Another we need install some Chinese input tools. The input of Chinese characters is different from that of English. The input method of Chinese characters has several input methods, and the most commonly used is the pinyin input method.

The phonetic input method only requires us to read some Chinese characters, and the corresponding letters can be used to count Chinese Characters according to the pronunciation. Another type of Chinese input method is, we know how to write but don't know how to read, such input method using less.

So for us, if we want to input Chinese Characters, we had to know the Pinyin, the Chinese pronunciation. All Windows computers come with Chinese input method, and we can use the Chinese input method after activation in system Settings.

part 8

Chinese writing

Chinese  Characters-Chinese writing

The difficulty of Chinese writing should be related to the characteristics of their national characters. Chinese Characters influence the current use of Chinese Characters in the Korean peninsula and Japan, and it has evolved from there. So it's not very difficult to learn, and it's not difficult to understand words.

But the western language family may not be the same as Asia, which can lead to different expressions of meaning. From this point of view, Chinese writing can be slightly tricky.

To write Chinese characters well, we need to know three essential characteristics of Chinese characters. From these rules below of writing, we could find the same type of handwriting method.

    1. The strokes of Chinese Characters

The stroke usually refers to the various shapes of Chinese characters and consecutive points and lines, such as horizontal (一) and vertical (丨), left (丿) and dot (丶), (乛) and so on. It is the smallest unit of cursive characters constitute the font.

Chinese Characters - The strokes of Chinese Characters

Traditional basic strokes of Chinese characters has 8 kinds:

1)     Dot,tiny dash;

2)     Horizontal, rightward stroke;

3)     Vertical, downward stroke;

4)     Press down or right-falling, falling rightwards, flattening at the bottom;

5)     Throw away or left-falling, falling leftwards, with a slight curve, not very curved;

6)     Rise or rising, flick up and rightwards;

7)     Break or turning, 90-degree turn, going down or going right only;

8)     Hook,appended to other strokes, going down or going left only;

    2.  The meaning of the component of Chinese Characters

There are 201 components of the Chinese Character, which is like 26 letters that can make up millions of English words. And 87 components are commonly using. (regular HSK WORDS LIST)

component of Chinese Characters

Understanding these elements and understanding its combination rules is like mastering a key to learning Chinese characters.

1)     日: sun component, applied to the sun, light, time, dry and other related things;

2)     石: stone component, applied to the stone and relating to earth or stone-implement related;

3)     田: farmland component, applied to fields and farming items related;

4)     豆: bean component, applied to all kinds of bean and legumes related;

5)     鱼: fish component, referred to fish, amphibians, or fish food related;

    3.  Know some rules to write Chinese Characters

There are some basic rules to write Chinese Characters, like that,

1)     writing the left side first, and then the right side;

2)     writing the top, and then the bottom;

3)     writing the left-falling and the right-falling;

4)     writing the horizontal, and then vertical;

5)     writing the left part, and then right part;

6)     writing the outside, and then inside;

7)     writing the middle, and then both sides;

Another, we can use the workbook of Chinese Characters to write Chinese characters, it marked the strokes of Chinese characters, we just follow the strokes to practice our Chinese writing, so it's beneficial.

part 9

Characteristic of Chinese character

Chinese  Characters-Characteristic of Chinese character

Chinese characters are one of the oldest words in the world, and the influence on the surrounding is vast. It is the writing symbol for the event. In the form, gradually the shape becomes a square symbol made up of strokes, so the Chinese character is usually also called "square block." Chinese characters evolved from Hieroglyphic Characters to logogram Characters that have the Characters of Hieroglyphic and Associative, but the overall system is the Hieroglyphic Characters. Therefore, Chinese characters have the characteristics of Hieroglyphic, Pictophmetic and Associative. This feature is unique in world characters history. Therefore, it has a unique charm. Chinese characters are the treasures of the Chinese for thousands of years.