Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Language facts: Chinese

First of all, it's important to mention that there's not only one universal written Chinese language. There are two dominating written systems of Chinese – Simplified used in mainland China and also an official writing system in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and other overseas Chinese diasporas. Then is traditional Chinese used largely in Taiwan and still in Hong Kong and Macau. Interestingly, spoken Chinese is not recognized as simple vs. traditional, but as Mandarin (mainland) and Cantonese (Hong Kong) dialects.

The Great Chinese Wall.
Source: DollarPhotoClub.com

Simplified Chinese

Chinese is the most important language among Sino-Tibetan tongues. Simplified Chinese is the official language spoken by the world's largest population, namely in the People's Republic of China, and the basic communication tool of today's most buoyant economy. This language system, consisting of several thousands of characters with each having unique meanings, is dramatically different from the western languages in terms of its wording, syntax and methods of expression. Simplified Chinese characters were promoted  mainly in the 1950s and 1960s by the governments of the People's Republic of China in attempt to increase literacy. If you are seeking business opportunities or planning to explore markets in China or Singapore, it's definitely a winning strategy to send over your messages in Simplified Chinese!

Traditional Chinese

Standard Chinese has developed gradually from the Mandarin dialect in the north of China over several hundred years, with the Peking tone as its standard tone. Traditional Chinese is the official language of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The writing system is also referred to as ‘standard', orthodox’ and ‘complex characters’. Chinese is currently the language used by most people in the world as nearly one fifth of the world's population, or about 1.3 billion people, speak Chinese as their native  language.

One of the most ancient languages in the world, with a history of 6,000 years today is also one of the working languages of the U.N. both in traditional and simplified forms.


Using special hieroglyphs, Chinese has a character as its minimum unit. Characters are meaning-representative  syllabic characters, with the special characteristics of integration of vision, voice and meaning. Syllables can be divided into three parts, namely initial consonant, compound vowel and tune. 

Alphabet samples:


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