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Origins of Chinese Characters

Origins of Chinese Characters

Origins of Chinese Characters

In order for us to learn the Mandarin language, we need to first learn it’s written form: Chinese characters. To learn Chinese characters well, it’ll be useful to learn their origins.

Chinese characters are called 汉字 (hàn zì). They are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and some other Asian languages, like the Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese language. In English, they are called Han Characters.

Unlike the English world of alphabet scripts, with a few dozen letters, Chinese language itself has thousands of characters that represent words.

The name of Chinese characters (hàn zì) first appeared in Han Dynasty as it is considered to be one of the longest ruling and the most prospective dynasties in Chinese History. Chinese people were called 汉人(hàn rén), followed by 汉族(hàn zú) Chinese nation,汉语(hàn yǔ) Chinese language.

What are Oracle Bone Inscriptions?

Oracle Bone Inscriptions were the origin of 汉字(hàn zì) Chinese characters. chinese character fish means fish, chinese character sunmeans the Sun. Nowadays there are many pictographic characters in the Chinese language.

Compared to English language, Russian and many other alphabetic languages, Chinese characters look like pictures. Most characters are combined by two or more parts called radicals. Learning characters are very important in the Chinese language learning as there are many characters share the same pronunciations.

For example, mei stands for 75 characters, they are called homophonic characters. Meanwhile, there are also many characters with two or more readings , such as 乐 reads as lè in 快乐 (kuài lè) and yuè in 音乐 (yīn yuè).

Currently there are 85,000 characters in Chinese language and 3,000 commonly used in daily life in newspaper, magazines and TV. With the combination of characters in two, three or more, characters become words, idioms and sentences.