What is Written Chinese?

What is Written Chinese?

Written Chinese comprises Chinese characters used to represent the Chinese language, and the rules about how they are arranged and punctuated. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Rather, the writing system is roughly logosyllabic; that is, a character generally represents one syllable of spoken Chinese and may be a word on its own or a part of a polysyllabic word. The characters themselves are often composed of parts that may represent physical objects, abstract notions, or pronunciation.

Various current Chinese characters have been traced back to the late Shang Dynasty about 1200–1050 BC, but the process of creating characters is thought to have begun some centuries earlier. After a period of variation and evolution, Chinese characters were standardized under the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC). Over the millennia, these characters have evolved into well-developed styles of Chinese calligraphy.

Some Chinese characters have been adopted as part of the writing systems of most other East Asian languages, such as Japanese and Korean. Literacy requires the memorization of a great many characters: Educated Chinese know about 4,000; educated Japanese know about half that many. The large number of Chinese characters has in part led to the adoption of Western alphabets as an auxiliary means of representing Chinese. Chinese speakers in disparate dialect groups are able to communicate through writing, because standard written Chinese is based on a standard spoken language (“Mandarin”). Although most other varieties of Chinese are not written, there is a well-developed Written Cantonese tradition.

Source from wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_characters

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