Other Languages Using the Chinese Script

[ 2005-06-15 20:25:46 pm | Author: Admin ]
                                    Other Languages Using the Chinese Script

Korea and Japan introduced a governmental system that was modeled after the Chinese central bureaucracy. With this bureaucracy, the Chinese script was also used as an instrument of government. But it was not possible to write in Korean or Japanese language with characters that are based upon the very different Chinese grammar. For that reason, during the 10th century Japan created alphabets with abbreviated Chinese characters that served only as sound provider. Two alphabets are in use, the Hiragana and Katakana syllable alphabets. In school, there are taught roughly 2000 basic Chinese characters (jap.: kanji). Although Japanese language uses a high percentage of Chinese loanwords, it is possible to write them in Hiragana or Katakana alphabet if one does not know the respective characters. In Korea, king Sejong (r. 1418-1450) is said to have introduced a new alphabet called Hangul, totally independent from the Chinese characters, to write texts in Korean language. Some 1800 Chinese characters (kor. Hanja) are taught in school, but less and less characters are in daily use, although Korean language uses many Chinese loanwords.
In Vietnam, the ruling class had adopted Chinese government styles and people of knowledge wrote in Chinese until the begin of the 20th century. But from the 10th century on in the stream of national movements, there was a need to write Vietnamese words. Adopting the pattern of the ideographic Chinese script, Vietnamese scholars created the chữ nôm script (sometimes called "demotic script" - vernacular script) that used combined Chinese characters (chữ' Hán or chu' nho) to write down Vietnamese words, like
an "to eat", combined from "mouth" and the Chinese sound of an. From 1637 on, Portuguese missionaries created a romanized transcription for the Vietnamese, called chữ' quốc ngữ (quốc ngữ is a Chinese loanword, meaning "language", chin. guoyu 國語) "national language script" that totally replaced the Chinese script from 1945 on.
A similar problem like Vietnamese have Cantonese people that try to write their language with Chinese characters. The grammatical differences and the different word treasure makes it necessary to create new characters for many important words and grammatical particles, most of them with the radical
"mouth" or "man", indicating that the syllable is taken phonetically: 佢哋 for kéuih-deih "they", for ge "my, your, his, her", for go "that", and so on.
The nomadic tribes of north China that adopted Chinese customs and ruling style, also used the Chinese writing system in their bureaucracy, and some of them copied the characters to create an own character style writing system, like the kingdoms of Xixia (Hsi-hsia), Khitan and Jurchen. Also southern tribes that were not so highly organized like the nomadic empires, created Chinese style character scripts, like the Lolo, Miao and Yao. 


  Chinese silk embroidery painting art from Suzhou

[Last Modified By Admin, at 2006-01-05 09:00:06]

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