The Chinese Script

[ 2005-06-15 19:16:18 pm | Author: Admin ]

The Chinese Script

The Chinese Script is the only ideographic (picture) script that is still used today, and at the same time it is the oldest one in use (about 3200 years). Its great advantage is that is can be used by all dialect speakers in and outside of China that call the same object with a quite different pronunciation that can hardly be recognized by somebody who only speaks the official standard language. People that can not communicate by language can use the characters to make an understanding possible. Even people that speak a language that is totally different from Chinese, like Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese, are (were) able to communicate with each other by using Chinese characters.

The character of Chinese as a language with isolated syllables not having a declination or conjugation makes it possible to express every spoken word in a written form simply by writing one single character. It is impossible to see or to hear if a word is a noun or a verb or an adjective, and in old Chinese most words could be used as noun or verb or adjective or adverb (for instance, the word [duŋ] can mean the noun "east", the adjective "eastern", the adverb "to do something in the east", and the verb "to go eastwards"). But the great problem of Chinese language is that it has only very few syllables compared to languages with closed syllables (for example the European languages except English, the Altaic languages like Mongolian or even Korean and Japanese). There is an extremely high number of words that sound totally identical, even if Chinese language has four (dialects have more) tone pitches (high, rising, low, falling): for example, the syllable [dji] in the high tone pitch could mean "table", "mocking", "striking", "hungry", "machine", "muscle", "cock", "trace", "piling up", "basis", "concubine", and so on. This extreme high homophony (equal sounds) in Chinese language comes from the simplification of the language in shape of the governmental official's language (guanhua
官話, in Portuguese called Mandarin) that developed during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties in the northern capital in Peking. Officials that came from different regions of the vast empire of China had to create a common language that based upon the smallest common denominator. Like most languages, Chinese thus shows the trend of simplification. Words that sounded totally different two thousand years ago today sound absolutely identical.


  Chinese silk embroidery painting art from Suzhou

[Last Modified By Admin, at 2006-01-05 09:08:35]

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