Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Reading Chinese characters

  1. #1
    JackBoni
    Guest

    Reading Chinese characters

    Hi

    Bearing in mind that I have no experience in any form of Chinese whatsoever, I hope you will forgive me for asking a potentially ridiculous question. All the European and Slavonic languages have some form of alphabet -and in addition to all of these, Japanese does, too, even though there are effectively four alphabets in Japanese. My question is this - as there does not seem to be an "alphabet" in Chinese (of course, correct me if I'm wrong) how do you read the characters? Is it a case of learning basic ones and learning additional sounds as the characters acquire additional meanings through, perhaps, the addition of new characters onto basic ones? Or is it a case of memorising how every single Chinese character is pronounced, with no correlation at all between what the character looks like and how it's pronounced? I realise that there would be no way around learning stroke order, how to write the characters themselves, and something I have a very vague idea about called "tone", though.

    Any explanation at all would be fascinating. If anyone could provide examples through actual Chinese characters or pinyin, that would, of course, be even better! Thanks

    Jack

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    США
    Posts
    2,284
    Rep Power
    12

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    I studied the reading for awhile and I'm no expert but basically you have to rote memorize every character; there's no corellation between meaning and how they look, let alone what tone is involved. It's brutal, I gave up.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  3. #3
    JackBoni
    Guest

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    Wow, that sounds fascinating, actually, even if it does sound extremely difficult. What was your motivation for looking at it in the first place, sperk? If I were ever going to learn to read Chinese, I would want to read it so that I could read about a particular part of Chinese history which has caught my attention in recent years. There was a novel written based around this particular part of Chinese history (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by someone called Luo Guanzhong) You can read about it on Wikipedia, if it interests you - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of ... e_kingdoms - I learnt a bit about it because I used to play a computer game based around it, which I believe it also mentions in that article.

    Thanks for your answer, sperk.

    Jack

  4. #4
    Почтенный гражданин delog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    pale blue dot
    Posts
    270
    Rep Power
    6

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    there's no corellation between meaning and how they look
    Not so. There are no correlations between sounds and forms, but there are between meanings and forms, not quite obvious, of course.
    English as a Second Language by Jeff McQuillan and Lucy Tse.

  5. #5
    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    США
    Posts
    2,284
    Rep Power
    12

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    Quote Originally Posted by JackBoni
    Wow, that sounds fascinating, actually, even if it does sound extremely difficult. What was your motivation for looking at it in the first place, sperk? If I were ever going to learn to read Chinese, I would want to read it so that I could read about a particular part of Chinese history which has caught my attention in recent years. There was a novel written based around this particular part of Chinese history (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by someone called Luo Guanzhong) You can read about it on Wikipedia, if it interests you - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_of ... e_kingdoms - I learnt a bit about it because I used to play a computer game based around it, which I believe it also mentions in that article.

    Thanks for your answer, sperk.

    Jack
    Where I work there are a lot of Chinese so it was to communicate with them that I learned what I know of Chinese. I used pinyin which is much easier. It would be hard to penetrate deeply into the language with learning to read but I don't have the motivation. I've heard of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms though I've never read it. I think it would take a good 7-10 yrs of studying characters before you could tackle something like that. You could always give it a try and see if you like it.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  6. #6
    JackBoni
    Guest

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    I intend to read it in English first. I have a lot of free time on my hands at the moment, as, although my Russian is poor by comparison to many of the very talented people on these forums, my Russian is "very good" when compared to other people on my course. We're tackling very simple texts at the moment, and so I have time to push ahead on my Russian, and pursue any other interests I have in other areas.

    I am aware that learning characters would be a very daunting task, but I also think that I would enjoy it. I like the challenge. Delog, thank you for your clarification

    Jack

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    15

    Re: Reading Chinese characters

    English spelling is a little like Chinese. You have to rote learn the pronunciation for many of our "characters" if you consider a character to be one word. For example (all you Russians will be fully aware of this horrible situation):
    rough
    through
    thorough
    bough
    brought
    and for giggles
    caught

Similar Threads

  1. characters
    By sperk in forum How do you Say... in Russian?
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: November 18th, 2009, 06:59 AM
  2. What are the gender of these characters?
    By SharkBeach in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: April 11th, 2009, 07:18 AM
  3. Chinese classical Chinese literature
    By sunpopal in forum Chinese
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: June 2nd, 2006, 11:56 AM
  4. Entering Cyrillic Characters
    By crux_online in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: November 22nd, 2005, 05:31 PM
  5. When To Learn Characters?
    By Darobat in forum Chinese
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: August 15th, 2005, 11:24 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


Russian Lessons                           

Russian Tests and Quizzes            

Russian Vocabulary