Why You Shouldn’t Neglect The Learning Of Chinese Characters
One of the most common questions about learning Chinese is if you should learn the characters, and the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes!’
While it is true that it is possible to learn how to speak Chinese without learning how to read the characters, this method of learning will only get you so far. If you want to have a thorough understanding of the Chinese language, having some knowledge of their written script is essential. How so? Let’s delve into the reasons why.
It helps you differentiate words
Chinese is a language with a lot of homophones – these are words which are pronounced the same, but have different meanings. Imagine this: there are just over 400 possible pinyin syllables in Chinese. If you multiply these by the 4 tones in Chinese, that’s 1600 possible syllables in the language. However, most modern dictionaries have about 7000 characters, and some say there are over 50,000 characters in existence!
So, if you only know how to speak Chinese, it would be pretty difficult to differentiate all these different words which literally sound the same. With some knowledge of Chinese characters, you can have a visual representation of the words as well, which aid in remembering and appreciating all the different words. As a consolation, most people only need to be familiar with 3000 common Chinese characters to get by – for example, to read a Chinese newspaper.
It helps you read Chinese
This might sound obvious – but not many people realise how important this is! In other languages, you might be able to guess words based on their alphabet, but in Chinese, you will be quite helpless if you are not familiar with the characters.
If you wish to learn Chinese for the purposes of engaging with their literature, conducting business, or immersing in a Chinese-speaking community, knowing how to read Chinese is crucial. It helps you not be reliant on interpreters or e-translation services – which unfortunately sometimes causes some things to be lost in translation.
It gives you an increased appreciation of the language
Did you know that ancient Chinese characters are actually more like drawings than writing? When you learn how to read and write Chinese characters, you might get fascinated by how some of the characters bear resemblance to the things they refer to. As you can imagine, this can be immensely helpful in your learning, as it helps you remember the meaning of the words.
Learning a language is never just about knowing it – it is also about appreciating its history and culture. A language with such a rich history as Chinese is bound to encapsulate a lot of its amazing stories and cultural nuances. So, it’s always a good idea to learn Chinese characters to get the full picture of what the Chinese language is all about.
And so the answer is clear – learning Chinese characters is worth it! If the daunting number of Chinese characters has been putting you off, it’s time to find a Mandarin course in Singapore to help you with it. Not only is learning Chinese characters beneficial for your practical learning, but it also enhances your learning experience of Chinese culture and history. Who knows? You might even fall in love with the beauty of Chinese characters before you know it!