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The Chinese Language - a general introduction

Spoken Chinese Language - Mandarin and Cantonese

To western people's knowledge, people speaking Chinese speak either Mandarin or Cantonese, which are two major accents of spoken Chinese. The pronunciations of Mandarin and Cantonese are so different that Chinese people from north China would not understand what Hong Kong people are saying in Cantonese.

The speaking accent of Chinese language is independent from the written forms. Therefore, newspapers printed in Traditional Chinese characters can be read out in either Mandarin or Cantonese.

Mandarin is mostly based upon the local accent of Beijing area.In terms of spoken forms of Chinese language, there are actually even more regional accents besides Mandarin and Cantonese. From north Chinese people's point of view, the accents of north China provinces are similar and could understand each other while the accents of south China provinces are quite different and difficult to understand.

Written Chinese Language - Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese

On the other hand, there are two types of written forms of Chinese language: the Traditional Chinese and the Simplified Chinese. Traditional Chinese is the real Chinese language, while the Simplified Chinese was created by the Chinese Communist party under Mao's personal command.

traditional Chinese character for 'progress'Traditional Chinese character for "Progress".
traditional Chinese character for 'progress'Simplified Chinese character for "Progress".

Let me raise two examples regarding the comparison of Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese characters. The Chinese character for "progress" is illustrated as the picture at the right. The lower part of the character in both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese are the same, which means "walking". The upper half of the character in Traditional Chinese is "佳", which means "good". So the composition of the traditional Chinese character for "progress" does make sense with the meaning of "walking towards good". However, the upper half of the character in Simplified Chinese is "井", which means a "well". The whole simplified Chinese character means "Walking towards a well", which is to drop down to well instead of progress.

Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto (江本胜) is very famous for his experiments in discovering the feelings of water. By observing the shapes of crystals of frozen water, he found that water shows a variety of crystal shapes in response to different music, displayed language characters and human thoughts. When the water is exposed to positive human thoughts, language or peaceful music, it shows beautiful six-pillar crystals. When it is exposed to negative thoughts, language or noisy music, the water crystal shapes are irregular and look ugly.

traditional Chinese character for 'love'Traditional Chinese character for "love".
traditional Chinese character for 'progress'Simplified Chinese character for "love".

Mr Emoto also found that when displaying to water the written word of "love" in different languages, similar six-pillar crystals are observed. In particular, he found that the water crystal shape in response to Traditional Chinese "love" are better than to Simplified Chinese "love". Mr. Emoto commented, "Water crystal experiments show that Traditional Chinese characters carry very good messages." The Traditional Chinese character for "love" has a "心" (heart) at the middle, while the Simplified Chinese character for "love" has deleted it, which is simply missing the most critical part.

Can Pinyin replace Chinese characters?

Actually when Mao commanded the simplification of Chinese characters, his final aim was to replace Chinese characters with Latin letters completely. The current version of simplified Chinese was only a stepstone.

At that time one of his excuses was that the traditional Chinese characters were difficult for the mass people to learn. This is actually not correct because the simplification process was not to make the language more accessible but to damage it.

If Chinese characters were replaced with Latin letters, it would not be Chinese language any more. This kind of Latinizing process has already happened to the Korean language and Vietnamese language, which both originally used Chinese characters. One big chaos caused is that many Chinese characters have the same pronunciation. So after replacing with Latin letters, it becomes very difficult to distinguish many words. In some official documents in Korea, they mark Chinese characters to make the meaning exact.

Actually a language is not simply a system of symbols. The usefulness and descriptiveness of the language is largely connected to the history of the tribe because the symbols and words are not meaningful until you can connect them to real persons and affairs. And that takes time. Therefore, each language is not a simple language, it corresponds to the history of the tribe.

In this regards, the traditional Chinese language is incomparable after being enriched by a history of 5000 years.

How many characters are there in Chinese?

Most often used Chinese characters are in a number of 2500 to 3000. So if you know 3000 Chinese characters you will be able to read most books and articles without much difficulty.

Researchers once examined thirteen classical Chinese books and found that there were over 6000 different Chinese characters. So if you know 6000 Chinese characters you will rarely see unknown characters in reading.

The disaster brought by Simplified Chinese characters

Over the past 3000 years, Chinese language characters have experienced very few changes. The stableness of the language is crucial for inheriting the traditional culture.

However, the Communist Party's simplification of Chinese characters has totally cut off this inheritance. It largely damaged the feature of Chinese characters as illustration of shapes. The factual effect of the simplified Chinese was that the generations educated with simplified Chinese textbooks have been disabled from accessing ancient Chinese books and people are not able to judge the Communist Party by traditional Chinese culture's opinion any more, which is a total disaster.

The Simplification of Chinese characters is one of the fundamental reasons why the brutal Communist governance has been so well accepted by the Chinese people and why it is so difficult to bring about changes to China -- Without traditional moral standard, Chinese people have got no way to judge the falsehood of the Communist Party and have subconsciously accepted everything of the Communist Party including its killings, its brutality, its tyranny and so on.

Have Any Experience Or Question in Learning Chinese Language?

I find that it is not easy to find good Chinese language teacher or course, because even in mainland China the mainstream traditional Chinese culture have already been damaged by the Communist regime.

So it is necessary and helpful for people to exchange good experiences in learning Chinese language.

Now if you have any good experience, know any good course, good textbook etc. in learning Chinese language, please share it.

If you have any question, you can also ask, so that other visitors may answer it through making comments.

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