Presentation on theme: "~ by Annie Chen – 陳儷尹 2010. Chinese is the only language in the world that uses graphic-semantic signs, named characters, instead of alphabets or other."— Presentation transcript:
Chinese is the only language in the world that uses graphic-semantic signs, named characters, instead of alphabets or other phonetic script, for its written form. Chinese characters are at the foundation of Chinese civilization and culture, and it seems they are here to stay.
Origins: According to Chinese tradition, Chinese characters were invented by Cang Jie 蒼頡, a legendary statesman who is said to have lived 4700 years ago. It was so long ago, that even Europe was still a wild forest, full of wild beasts. One day, Cang Jie saw tracks on the snow, left by all kinds of birds, and he saw that each bird had different footprints. The idea of a “writing” system grew in his mind. He looked the world around and drew simple pictures of each thing he saw. Cang Jie and his followers carved these pictures into bones and tortoise shells, so that they would last a long time. These carving became Chinese characters. The sun, moon, water, fire, trees, mountains, utensils, etc., all these everyday - yet important - things of life were could finally be described by meaningful pictures (called pictograms) and create one of the first written languages. There was no phonetic alphabet – like our ABC’s - attached to them. To read them, a person had to know which spoken word they showed. Remarkably, today’s characters often look like their ancient shapes, even after several thousands of years have passed since their invention. That being said, each character is full of history, and Chinese culture.
6 Categories As more and more people started writing Chinese, people needed more and more new characters to describe new things and new ideas. Eventually, written Chinese grew and grew until it had over 50,000 characters. There were so many characters, and they were so unorganized, that Chinese writing started to get very confusing. In the year 100 A.D., a scholar named Xu Shen 許慎 became very worried about this, and decided to do something about it. So he organized 10,000 characters into the very first Chinese dictionary, called the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字. At the end of the dictionary, Xu Shen explained the “six principles”, or six categories that he divided the characters into. The six categories are still very important to us today, and we still use them to organize our Chinese characters.
Four major Chinese character creation categories : 1. 象形 : (xiàngxíng, pictographs), using a picture to represent a real object 2. 指事 : (zh ǐ shì, self-explanatory), using a picture to represent a concept, 3. 會意 : (huìyì, associative compounds), combining two or more pictures which individually express an idea 4. 形聲 : (xíngshēng, pictophonetic), combining one element indicating meaning and the other elements indicating sound,
1. 象形 : (xiàngxíng, pictographs), picture characters; using a picture to represent a real object. Estimated that 4% of characters fell into this characters. Example : 日 月 山 sun moon mountain
2. 指事 : (zhǐshì, self-explanatory), using a picture to represent a concept. There are 125 of them in the Shuowen Example : 上 下 中 : above--which is a picture with an object above the horizon : below--which is a picture with an object below the horizon : middle--which is a picture with a circle in the middle of a flag pole
3. 會意 : (huìyì, associative compounds), combining two or more pictures which individually express an idea. Estimate that 13% of characters fall into this category. Example : 明 看 : bright – 日 means sun; 月 means moon both are very bright : look -- 手 means hand and 目 means eye, indicating a hand hanging over the eyes to look.
4. 形聲 : (xíngshēng, pictophonetic), combining one element indicating meaning and the other elements indicating sound. Estimate that 82% of characters fall into this category. Example : 鯉、鯊、鰻、鱔 combine 魚 (fish) and the sound element to indicate the type of the fish.
Radicals ( 部首 ) Every character has a radical. The radicals are similar to the roots of English words. Therefore the radicals are helpful in recognizing, memorizing and reproducing characters. There are a total of 214 radicals in Chinese, of which some fifty are commonly used. There radicals are used either independently or as parts of more complex characters. They are meaning components—they generally succeed in giving a hint of the meaning of the character, such as “ 心 ” means “relating to thought and emotion,” “ 言 ” means “relating to speech,” and “ 水 ” means “relating to water.” Most of the radicals are pictographs. The radicals are also used to organize Characters in Chinese dictionaries, therefore the knowledge of radicals can be advantageous in using a Chinese dictionary.
吃 唱 叫 - to eat - to sing - to call Radical : “ 口 ” means mouth 喊 喝 哭 - to drink - to cry - to shout
林 森 樹 - wood; forest - a forest - a tree Radical : “ 木 ” means wood 果 枝 柱 - branch - a post - fruit
打 拿 拍 - to hit - to hold - to clap Radical : “ 手 = ” means hand 揮 捶 提 - to pound - to lift - to wipe
A. Oracle-bone inscriptions ( BC 1400 – 1100 ) （商） B. Bronze inscriptions ( BC 1200 – 770 ) （周） C. Script style standardized in Qin dynasty ( BC 200 -207) （秦） D. Official script ( Han style ) ( BC 220 – AC 24 ) （漢） E. Regular Scrip ( AC 220 - 420 ) （魏晋）