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3.Chinese Characters and Language


Chinese Characters
? Origin of Chinese Characters
? The most sophisticated and earliest Chinese characters are the inscriptions on tortoise shells and animal bones called Oracle-bon

e Script (Jiaguwen) of the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century BC) which were found at the site of the last Shang capital Yin near present-day Anyang, Henan province.

The Finding of Oracle Bones
? The discovery of the oracle bones in China goes back to 1899, when a scholar Wang Yirong (王懿荣) from Beijing was prescribed a remedy containing "dragon bones" for his illness. ―Dragon bones‖ were widely used in Chinese medicine and usually refer to fossils of dead animals. ? Wang Yirong noticed some carvings that looked like some kind of writing. This lucky finding led to the discovery of Anyang, the last capital of Shang dynasty, as well as Oracle-bone Script .

Chinese Characters
? Evolution of Chinese Characters
? The next stage in the history of Chinese writing is the bronze inscriptions (Jinwen), which also resembled drawings appearing the Shang Dynasty and Western Zhou Dynasty.

Five major scripts of Chinese calligraphy
The art of Chinese calligraphy is closely related to the evolution of Chinese characters and evolved into five major styles with different techniques: The Seal Script (Zhuanshu) The Clerical Script (Lishu) The Standard Script (Kaishu) The Cursive Script (Caoshu) The Running Script (Xingshu)

? ? ? ? ?

The Seal Script (篆书)
? Soft lines of strokes and upright rectangular shape keep the seal form characters more close to pictography. ? Each of the characters has a balanced and symmetrical pattern.

The Clerical Script (隶书)
? It was the turning point in the evolution of Chinese scripts and is the foundation of the later script forms. ? It turned the remaining curved and round strokes of the seal form into linear and flat square shapes.

The Standard Script (楷书)
? It is most influential script and still today’s standard writing. ? It is straight in line, square in form, and non-cursive in strokes.

The Cursive Script (草书)
? This style of calligraphy is smooth and lively with strokes flowing and characters linking together. ? The characters are often joined, with the last stroke of one merging into the initial stroke of the next. ? It is executed freely and rapidly so that parts of the characters appear exaggerated.

The Running Script (行书)
? The Running Script is somewhere between the Standard and the Cursive scripts allowing simpler and faster writing. ? The running standard script 行楷 ? The running cursive script 行草

Tools of Chinese Calligraphy

-- Four Treasures of the Study
? ? ? ? ? Brush Ink, ink stick Paper Ink stone The best of each of these items is represented by: Hu brush (湖笔), Hui ink stick (徽墨), Xuan paper (宣纸) , and Duan ink stone (端砚). ? In addition to these four tools, desk pads and paperweights are also used by calligraphers.

Chinese Calligraphy
? The art of Chinese calligraphy is widely practiced and revered in Chinese culture. In addition to being an art form in its own right, Chinese calligraphy has also influenced ink and wash painting, which is accomplished using similar tools and techniques. It has also led to the development of many other forms of art in China, including seal carving, ornate paperweights, and inkstones.

Chinese Characters
? Formation of Chinese characters ? Xu Shen (许慎; 58 –147), the Chinese philologist in the Han Dynasty summarized ―Six Ways‖ in his Shuo Wen Jie Zi: Pictogram, Ideograph, Logical Aggregates, Pictophonetic Compounds, Transfer, Loan. ? Later scholars pointed out that only the first 4 are the principle of constructing Chinese characters, the rest two are ways of using them.

Shuo Wen Jie Zi (说文解字) by Xu Shen
? The first to analyze the structure of the characters and to give the reasons behind them ? The first to use the principle of organization characters by shared components, called section headers/radicals (部首).

Chinese Characters
? Formation of Chinese characters Pictograms (象形) represent real-life objects by drawings. Example: 日 月 云 雨

Chinese Characters
? Formation of Chinese characters
Ideographs (指事) represent positional and numeral concepts by indication. Example:

一 二 三 上 下 本 末

Chinese Characters
? Formation of Chinese characters
Logical Aggregates (会意) form a new meaning by combining the meanings of two or more characters. Example: Wood 木 Small Forest 林 Big Forest 森 手 + 分 + 手 = 掰 Hand + To separate + Hand = To separate sth with two hands

Chinese Characters
Formation of Chinese characters Pictophonetic Compounds (形声) form a character by combining the meaning of one character and the pronunciation of another character.

Example: ?妈 码 玛







Strokes of Chinese Characters
? There are 8 basic categories:
Heng—horizontal stroke Shu—vertical stroke Pie—left falling stroke Na—right falling stroke Dian—dot stroke Ti—upward stroke Zhe—horizontal stroke with a vertical turn Gou—vertical stroke with a hook

Chinese Characters
? There are currently two systems of Chinese characters. ? The Simplified Chinese Character System 简体字 was developed by the PRC in 1956 to promote literacy. ? The Traditional Chinese Character System繁体字 is still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Chinese speaking communities (except Singapore and Malaysia) outside mainland China.

Chinese Language
?

?

Chinese is a tonal language, belonging to Sino-Tibetan汉藏语系. The Sino-Tibetan languages form a language family composed of, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia.

Chinese Language
Chinese (Mandarin) Phonetics ? Initials (consonants) ? Finals (a vowel, or a combination of vowels,
sometimes with a nasal at the end)

? Tones (four distinct and one light tones)
? Each Chinese character corresponds to one syllable. A syllable consists of an initial, a final and a tone.

Chinese Language
Pinyin
? The Romanized phonetic spelling system created in 1950’s for Mandarin or standard Chinese (Putonghua). ? It is based on Beijing Dialects, a branch of the Northern dialects of Chinese language ? It uses 25 letters in English except ― V ‖. ? It includes 21 initials and 39 finals.

Chinese Language
? Chinese are tonal. Each syllabus can have a number of different meanings depending on the intonation 声调with which it is pronounced. 妈(mā) —high level 麻(má —high rising ) 马(mǎ)—low falling-rising 骂(mà )—high falling 吗(ma) —neutral

4 tones and 1 neural tone
? First Tone First tone, or high-level tone (阴平): a steady high sound, as if it were being sung instead of spoken. Second tone Second tone, or rising tone (阳平), or linguistically, highrising: is a sound that rises from mid-level tone to high (e.g., What?!) Third Tone Third tone, low tone, or low-falling-raising(上声): it has a mid-low to low descent; if at the end of a sentence or before a pause. It is then followed by a rising pitch. Fourth Tone Fourth tone, falling tone (去声), or high-falling: features a sharp downward accent ("dipping") from high to low, and is a shorter tone, similar to curt commands. (e.g., Stop!) ? Neutral tone The neutral tone is also called the fifth tone, light tone or zero tone (轻声).

Chinese Language
Chinese word building: ? Some words are single syllable (one character) ? Majority words in modern Chinese are double syllable (two characters) ? Some words are multi-syllable (three or more characters)

Chinese Language
Chinese Grammar
? Chinese grammar is not any more complex in general compared with other languages. Some aspects are even much simpler. ? Main features:
– No grammatical distinction between singular or plural – No distinction of verbs according to tense, mood and aspect – No inflection 变音 of nouns, verbs,etc. – The order of words in a sentence is almost unchanged: Subject—Verb—Object.

Chinese Language
Putonghua and the Dialects
? Chinese is a language consisting of many dialects, some of which are even mutually unintelligible, which is why some linguists consider Chinese as a language family. ? About one-fifth of the world’s population, or over one billion people, speak some form of Chinese as their native language.

Chinese Language
Putonghua and the Dialects
? The standardized form of spoken Chinese is Standard Chinese (Mandarin) based on the Beijing dialect, which is part of a larger group of North-Eastern and SouthWestern dialects. ? Standard Mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China as well as one of the 4 official languages of Singapore, where it is called Huayu. Chinese is also one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations.

7 main dialect groups
Name 1. Mandarin 2. Wu 3. Yue/Cantonese 4. Min 5. Xiang 6. Hakka/Kejia 7. Gan simplified character 官话/北方话 吴语 粤语 闽语 湘语 客家话 赣语

Chinese Language
? Like any other language, Chinese has absorbed a sizeable amount of loanwords 外 来语 from other cultures. ? Words borrowed from along the Silk Road include 葡萄 “grape,‖ 石榴 “pomegranate‖ and 狮子“lion.‖ Some words were borrowed from Buddhist scriptures, including 佛 “Buddha‖ and 菩萨 “bodhisattva.‖ Other words came from nomadic peoples to the north, such as 胡同 “bystreet‖, 琵琶 “lute‖, 骆驼 “camel‖.

Chinese Language
Modern neologisms are translated into Chinese primarily in three ways: ? Free translation (by meaning):电话 (telephone), 手机(mobile phone), 蓝牙 (bluetooth); ? Phonetic translation (by sound):沙发(sofa), 克隆(clone), 歇斯底里(hysteria); ? A combination of the above two (partially transcriptive with a careful selection of meaning-encoding characters):披萨饼 (pizza), 汉堡包(hamburger),吉普车(jeep).

Chinese Language
? The serious study of the Chinese language in the West began with the missionaries coming to China during the late 16th century. ? Among them were Michele Ruggieri (罗明坚) and Matteo Ricci (利玛窦) from Italy. They mastered the language and became the first sinologists.

Chinese Language
? In 1814, a chair of Chinese was founded at the Collège de France, and Abel-Rémusat (1788—1832) became the first Professor of Chinese in Europe. In 1837, the first European Chinese-language school in the Russian Empire was opened. ? Since then sinology became an academic discipline in the West.


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