All posts by sarah

Pictographic: step

bù,is comprised of two feet. In the oracle bones, the upper part is a left foot with the toe pointing upwords and the lower part is a right foot with the big toe also pointing.
But in the another direction. Two feet moving forwards one after another one after amoche graphics “walking forwards”. Which is the original meaning of bù “ steep”. It is also used as a nouns, and as an old unit of measurement. The modern version ofbù will keeps “the foot” in the upper part, but the lower part of it has been changed completely into another form.

Pictographic: both

The original form of the character was a cpmlex one, the upper part depicts two “birds”  with their beaks turned to the left, sitting on a “right hand”. This combination indicates one hand catching two birds, which suggests the concept of “a pair”.

Pictographic: old

The oracle bones picture the character as an old man facing the left, with a lunched back, and a stick in his hand. Other characters relating to “old” or “elders”which are derived from his character include (xiào: filial piety) and (zhǎng: elder).

Pictographic: man

The original character of  nán was a combination of two parts: the left side is a field(田tián), and the right side is a plough – like tool. As ploughing in field was men’s main work in ancient times, the original meaning of “男nán”is “the strength in the field” or “man”.


Pictographic: door

门mén,  Chinese (simplified) ; 門mén, Chinese (traditional).
mén,door; is a pictopgraph showing a set of double doors (mén).  门mén is also a radical; the characters with this radical usually related of “door” or “gate”. For example, ) shuān, fasten;  ) shǎn, flash;  ) bì, close. lao1

Pictographic: cut

分fēn is comprised of two parts: the lower part is a 刀dāo “knife” which means “ to cut”; the upper part is 八 which means something being separated. The idea of this character is to cut something with a knife – which signifies “to separate”. From this, the meaning was extended to “分辨”( fēnbiàn: to distinguish), and “branch”(of an organization, as in 分店(fēndiàn) branch of a shop. 分数(fēnshù) score.

Pictographic: many

This is an ideogram. It is formed by two 夕xī, one on top of the other. It signifies that days and nights are changing forever. This meaning then implied the idea of duō, "a lot ".
The original meaning of duō was an antonym of  shǎo" a little ". Later, another meaning was added, which is " more ". In Chinese, " two hundred more " means " more than two hundred ".


Pictographic: white

The original meaning of bái is brightness. In the oracle bones, it is a picture of a fire burning with a bright ring burning surrounding it. Later it evolved to mean “clarity” or “clearness”.


Classical Chinese

Classical Chinese (Chinese: 文言文; pinyin: wényán wén; literally: “literary language writing”), also known as “Literary Chinese”,[a] is the language of the classic literature from the end of the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han Dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. Classical Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese that evolved from the classical language, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. Literary Chinese was used for almost all formal writing in China until the early 20th century, and also, during various periods, in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Among Chinese speakers, Literary Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese, a style of writing that is similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese, while speakers of non-Chinese languages have largely abandoned Literary Chinese in favor of local vernaculars.

Literary Chinese is known as kanbun in Japanese, hanmun in Korean (but see also gugyeol), and Hán văn in Vietnamese (From 漢文 in all three cases; pinyin: hànwén, “Han writing”).

Excerpt by Wiki


Pinyin, or Hanyu Pinyin, is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet in mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Chinese and a pinyin without diacritic markers is often used in foreign publications to spell Chinese names familiar to non-Chinese and may be used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into computers.

pin yin1

The Hanyu Pinyin system was developed in the 1950s based on earlier forms of romanization. It was published by the Chinese government in 1958 and revised several times. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted pinyin as an international standard in 1982. The system was adopted as the official standard in Taiwan in 2009, where it is used for romanization alone rather than for educational and computer input purposes.

pin yin2

The word Hànyǔ (simplified Chinese: 汉语; traditional Chinese: 漢語) means the spoken language of the Han people and pīnyīn (Chinese: 拼音) literally means “spelled-out sounds”.

History of Hanyu Pinyin (1949 to present)

Pinyin was developed as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. One of the prominent figures was Zhou Youguang, who is often called “the father of pinyin”, as he led a government committee in developing the romanization system. Zhou was working in a New York bank when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Zhou became an economics professor in Shanghai, and in 1954, when China’s Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Zhou was assigned the task of helping to develop a new romanization system.

Hanyu Pinyin was based on several preexisting systems: (Gwoyeu Romatzyh of 1928, Latinxua Sin Wenz of 1931, and the diacritic markings from zhuyin). “I’m not the father of pinyin,” Zhou said years later, “I’m the son of pinyin. It’s [the result of] a long tradition from the later years of the Qing dynasty down to today. But we restudied the problem and revisited it and made it more perfect.”

A first draft was published on February 12, 1956. The first edition of Hanyu Pinyin was approved and adopted at the Fifth Session of the 1st National People’s Congress on February 11, 1958. It was then introduced to primary schools as a way to teach Standard Chinese pronunciation and used to improve the literacy rate among adults.

Beginning in the early 1980s, Western publications addressing Mainland China began using the Hanyu Pinyin romanization system instead of earlier romanization systems;  this change followed the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC in 1979. In 2001, the PRC Government issued the National Common Language Law, providing a legal basis for applying pinyin. The current specification of the orthographic rules is laid down in the National Standard GB/T 16159-2012.

Above exerpt by Wiki