The Chinese Alphabet has evolved from several origins over thousands of years to give us the Chinese writing system of today. As we all know, China is a vast country which has one of the oldest and the best civilizations on earth. It is no wonder that the origins and facts about the Chinese Alphabet would be as culturally rich as the country from which it came from. So let us now talk about the fun facts of the Chinese Alphabet, shall we?
The Chinese Alphabet Is Not Really an Alphabet
It is actually a writing script. To understand this, let us talk about the characteristics of alphabets. Alphabets consists of letters or letter forms which are written together to form syllables that form words. An alphabet letter usually does not stand on its own, except maybe the letter A in western alphabet which is a word in itself. The Chinese form of writing consists of Characters which represents a syllable. The characters can be a word in itself or be grouped together to form words or represent ideas. The best way to describe the Chinese way of writing is that it is a non-alphabetic script, although people who may not know that may call the Chinese Characters or Script as an Alphabet. It is excusable for people to use the wrong term but we just want to be clear that the Chinese way of writing is not the same as what is defined as an alphabet in the west.
Chinese Alphabet is a Way to Represent Ideas
The fact is that the Chinese form of writing uses Characters. These Characters are at times words in their own right. This means that Chinese Characters are not used as letters (with perhaps the exception of a few) but rather used as words or syllables that represents ideas or messages.
The Chinese Alphabet or Way of Writing has over 6,500 Characters
Chinese is a very complex language. Whereas it can take a person less than a year to master the English Alphabet and to read and write using it, learning to communicate in written form for Chinese takes years. Education of scribes takes years in China before they can write all the Chinese Characters. This is why Chinese Calligraphy is considered as a form of art in China, especially in ancient times. Today, modern Chinese uses pinyin which is a much simpler form of writing and reading Chinese.
Chinese Alphabet is Actually the Use of Pictograms
Chinese Characters are actually pictograms. It is closer to hieroglyphics than it is to the English Alphabet. Both the Chinese and ancient Egyptian form of writing utilizes picture words or pictograms to represent words and ideas. The difference would be that the Egyptians used picture drawings to represent words and ideas whereas the Chinese used stick figures to represent words and ideas, making it more complex and rich at the same time.
With Chinese being spoken by more than a billion people, knowing a bit more about the written form of the language is a fun way to understand the language, the culture and people of China. Having cleared the misconceptions about having a Chinese version of an alphabet, you are on your way to perhaps learning the beautiful written form of the Chinese language.