Essay Sample on Chinese Writing System

Paper Type: 
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1530 Words
Date:  2021-03-23

The Chinese writing system is continuously used all over the world. The writing system played a great role in establishing China as a country. The Chinese language presents meaning rather than oral language use. Thus its speakers use over one hundred dialects. The Chinese characters are read with similar or related meanings by the Japanese and Korean readers as well. Due to the high population of the nation, Chinese orthography rivals all alphabetic writing systems in the world. However, the world does not know much about the Chinese writing system and how it works and to the extent of making sense of character based reading as well as alphabet writing. Most people do not have a knowledge of written language as it only limits to the alphabetic writings. Notably, the Chinese culture is extremely rich in literature and other arts.

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The Chinese language comprises of concepts Yi (meanings, ideas, functions) and the yain (characters, words, and languages) xing (forms, format). The Chinese language should be viewed as a meaning-centered perspective because it focuses on Yi more than xing in the reading of texts. Most researchers concentrate on the phonological information of written characters identification and meaning activation. Phonological awareness in the Chinese language focuses on the ability to acquire information about the pronunciation of characters on the levels of a syllable, onset and rime as well as tone, while the morphological awareness focuses on the relationship between spoken and written language.

The Chinese characters do not represent ideas. It's a typical misinterpretation that Chinese characters show thoughts with no reference to a talked dialect. Most Chinese characters have a part that gives a clue at the articulation of the words they speak to, alongside another segment (typically called a "radical") that gives an insight into the general class of significance of the words they speak.

.A case of this would be 工, a word open gōng in Mandarin. In this language, 工 signifies "work," however, it likewise happens as a sound clue in the characters (红,江,扛,空,and 功) among others which match the sound-insight with importance clues meaning, such as"silk," "water," "hand," "opening," and 'quality.' Hence, yielding the words "red," and "Yangtze stream," "to bear on the shoulder," "vacant," and 'accomplishment'. Therefore, sooner or later in the improvement of the Chinese dialects, these words all rhymed with or sounded like 工. Nevertheless, today, they're declared hóng, jiāng, káng, kōng, and gōng, separately, in Mandarin.

Notably, Chinese characters do not have an easy way of representing sound. Unlike in English where the alphabets are used to represent some sound. However, the readers are seen to grasp the meaning beyond the characters, because the characters only reveal the surface meaning of what lies within. Characters have a limit while meaning has no limit. Therefore, reading goes beyond understanding the text and further pursues the idea or yi of the text. It is argued that the Chinese people tend to see things in a holistically manner while Westerners tend to perceive things atomically and analytically. The Chinese language uses lexico-grammatical level modifications which are rather complicated such as in identifying the features of word, phrase, clause, topic, part of speech and subject among others. In English, it is easy to see a clear line in the constituency between the morpheme, word, phrase, and clause depending on the verbal group. Nevertheless, it becomes unclear to determine the apparent relation of the words and word order in the Chinese language.

In the Chinese language, the characters are considered as the coding unit doe graphic and phonemic proximity as the word concept is Chinese cannot be agreed on its applicability in the language. The Chinese sentence differs a lot from the English sentence; in the grammatical level and also the inner structures. The clause is regarded the basic syntactic unit of a language and is used as a coding unit for syntax and semantic acceptability for the Chinese language considering the difference in the English language. It is also crucial to understand that Chinese readers make miscues at almost the same frequency as English readers. This means that reading of the Chinese language is a constructive process and not just a simple progressive recognition of characters. Notably, Chinese reading is not less or more accurate than English reading, and thus, readers of Chinese language just like many other languages make miscues. However, the readers of the Chinese language depict a stronger reliance on syntactic and semantic context cues than the phonemic and graphic cues when making sense of the Chinese language.

On the other hand, the Chinese dialect Mandarin, which is commonly seen as an analytic language since it relies on the word order to show relationships between words. This means that nouns and verbs do not change in Chinese, unlike in English, where there are words such as goose in singular and geese in plural. In English as a sentence like “she slept with the children” indicates an action of sleep and that there was more than one child. In the Chinese language, the conveying of such a sentence would be quite a different sue to the use of characters, which could be considered uncommon. Basically, a Chinese sentence would be conveyed as “I today at wash many dishes” which when spoken in Chinese is correct but in English, the sentence is viewed as wrong. Information in Chinese and English is conveyed and presented in different ways. In English, the alphabets represent sounds of as language more efficiently than the Chinese characters. The characters in Chinese represent certain words, and there are over 3000 characters some based on simple pictures that resemble the things they represent.

Romanization of Chinese is the use of the Latin language to write Chinese. The Chinese language uses the logographic script, and the characters do not represent phonemes directly. There have been many systems used to represent Chinese in the past, but the Hanyu Pinyin has become the international standard since 1982. Other systems are such as Wade –Giles and Yale Romanization. Romanization of Chinese serves as a useful tool for foreign learners of the language. It indicates the pronunciation of the unfamiliar characters and also clarifies the pronunciation. Chinese pronunciation is problematic for many first time learners. Similarly, Chinese dictionaries have complex rules for characters, and Romanization simplifies the problem through listing characters by their Latin form alphabetically.

The Hanyu Pinyin is the official Romanization system for Standard Chinese. It is used to teach the Chinese language in simpler forms since Chinese is mostly written in character form. This system comprises of four diacritics denoting tones. The Hanyu Pinyin without tones is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written using the Latin alphabet. In short, the system is used to make the Chinese language more English friendly.

The first book to use the Roman alphabet to write Chinese was the ‘Miracles of Western Letters.' However, this and other books did not have any impact on the Chinese writing systems, and the Romanization was intended more for the westerners than the Chinese people. Later on, the Qing reformer, Song Shu proposed that the Chinese adopt a writing system.


In conclusion, Chinese language reading is different in many ways from the English language. The readers of the Chinese language tend to focus on the character as a whole. Evidently, readers focus on the yi, which is the meaning and the interior rather than the xing, the format, and outer. The Chinese reading based on the traditional beliefs that reading is meaning seeking and contexts rather than formats. This explains why the word order of the Chinese language is different from the English language. To make Chinese language simple for other people, there was the introduction of the Romanization of the language. The Hanyu Pinyin is the official Romanization system for Standard Chinese. It is used to teach the Chinese language in simpler forms since Chinese is mostly written in character form The Romanization of Chinese is the use of the Latin language to write Chinese because the Chinese language uses the logographic script and the characters do not represent phonemes directly. Through Romanization, people from different languages can learn the language without using the characters which are seen as complex.


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