Home > China Facts > China Overview > Chinese Language > Introduction of Chinese Language

Introduction of Chinese Language

Last updated by samshen at 2014/4/21

It would seem that written language, which was predated by spoken language by a very large margin, arose during the agrarian phase of human development, i.e., following the strictly hunter-gatherer phase, and for this reason, written language arose in different cultures at different chronological periods, as witnessed by the fact that the Neolithic Age, or New Stone Age, occured in different geographical regions at different chronological periods.*(1, 2) (If, according to the prevailing current thinking, the Out of Africa hypothesis has merit, then humans spoke a highly complex language before they began to migrate out of Africa to the four corners of the earth.)

The words of the Chinese language are composed of characters, which might roughly be compared to syllables in Western languages. In very ancient times, each word consisted of a single character, but over time, Chinese words came to consist of two to three characters, and eventually even more. Most Chinese words in currency today consist of at least two syllable-characters, such as, for example, Beijing, or bei jing, 北京, meaning the "northern capital", but may consist of, in principle, an unlimited number of characters, though practicality naturally limits this. One of the longer, modern Chinese words (note that in Chinese, the creation of new words is a pretty straightforward affair, given that one can simply combine existing concepts – represented by their respective characters – to create a new term) is the compound word, schizophrenia: 精神分裂症, which translates roughly to "split mind disease" and consists of at least seven characters (and some of them look as if they may well be compound characters).

The best way to think of the Chinese language is that it is made up of building blocks (characters) that offer seemingly infinite potential combinations, since the various building blocks can be combined in any number of ways. For this reason, the Chinese language is considered an open-ended language, meaning that there is no limit to how many words can be formed simply by combining two or more characters to form a new concept represented by a new word.

The largest Chinese dictionaries consist of about 56,000 individual characters, while everyday speech, including everyday written language, requires the knowledge of only about 3000 characters, and, in fact, even literary and scientific Chinese language only requires familiarity with about 6000 characters.

Related Topics:

There are 2 comments on this topic

posted by "78.18.65.*" at 1/29/2014 10:49:00 AM

cool

reply

posted by "221.7.151.*" at 2/20/2013 7:34:00 PM

Hi, thanks for your great website! I have been learning 3 years and now lower intermediate. I first started on your website! Then I did 1 month language bath (I recommend this to everyone) then use chinesepod but there speaking classes are so expensive! So I use basic service and then hire an online speaking teacher (we also read Chinesepod PDF articles together ;) from ChineseChatterbox.com for less than 10 dollars and hour. This has been my journey and its work really well for me. Thank you for your page and keep up the good work, you inspired me to start learning Chinese! :)

reply

78.18.65.* replied at 1/29/2014 10:49:00 AM

teach me chinese

78.18.65.* replied at 1/29/2014 10:49:00 AM

teach me Chinese please

Post your comment on this topic

You can post as a guest, yet we suggest sign up first!!

Submit

 

Most Recommended Topics

Chinese Food

Chinese Food

The preparation of food was traditionally manag…>> details

Chinese Kung Fu

Chinese Kung Fu

Kung Fu (an Anglicization of >gongfu> [功夫]), me…>> details

Chinese Taiji Quan

Chinese Taiji Quan

Overview Millions of people practice Taiji …>> details

Shaolin Kung Fu

Shaolin Kung Fu

China is a country of much greatness. It is a l…>> details

China National Day

China National Day

October 1st is Chinese National Day. National D…>> details

Recommended Tours

Yabuli Skiing Tour

4-Days Yabuli Skiing Tour

Visit Harbin, Yabuli

from USD $ 539

Xi'an Quick and Easy Tour

2-Days Xi'an Quick and Easy Tour

Visit Xian

from USD $ 209

Shanghai Highlights from Beijing

2-Days Shanghai Highlights from Beijing

Visit Beijing, Shanghai

from USD $ 279

Interesting to Know

Why Group Travel? China Tours for Mother's Day Tailor-making China Tours

Travel Confidently with Us

Customers

10,000 Satisfied Customers

Customers

50 Years in China Travel Industry

Customers

Quick Response within 24 hours

Customers

Secured Online Payment

Customers

Group Tours with Solo Adventure

Customers

No Hidden Fees and No Traps