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do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby stevie » Tue 07.10.2007 1:00 pm

I don't think there's many more characters to learn in Chinese than in Japanese per se. Today I read that 1000 characters cover 90% of written chinese, the next 1000 over up to 98%, and another 1000 after that cover 99.8%, or something like that. I don't remember the exact figures, but you get the idea.

This reminded me of the Jouyou Kanji, in that there are just under 2000 to use but it is disputed how useful some of them actually are (ie there are likely to be more common ones that have been left out of the Jouyou), so ideally you'll need to know more than the 1,945 Jouyou. I'm not so knowledgable on this, I'm going by what I've read online so please correct me if this supposition is wrong.

I'm not sure where I'd stop to be honest... it depends if I'm on a mission to be able to read and write everything or not. The sheer number of characters to learn is not a huge cause of concern to me. It's just something I tackle day by day is all, I don't want or need to learn them all by tomorrow.

Actually, I suppose the trick with Chinese is that a number of the characters (I am not sure how many) were simplified, so if you want to be completist then you've essentially got to learn to recognise two versions of the same hanzi in a lot of cases - simplifed and traditional (and how to write them if you want to be able to write in chinese as well). I guess if you have a certain destination in mind then you could base your study on that - from what I understand, traditional is still used widely in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and simplifed is now used officially in the PRC, Singapore and Malaysia. Understanding the methods/rules by which many of the characters were simplified probably helps a lot as well, though I can't say I'm familiar with them myself :)

An interesting note is that since there is no katakana, loan words are spelled in Chinese using phonetically similar (or often not so similar) characters - for instance, Edinburgh, in chinese, is written 爱丁堡, pronounced ài-dīng-băo. I quite like this, though obviously it is so much easier for a beginner to pick out loan words in Japanese than it is in Chinese :) Also, as has been mentioned before on this forum, having hiragana serves as a great help to differentiate elements of grammar, and the end and beginning of different words, - an advantage that is lost in Chinese (though of course there are other ways to do this, you just learn it differently and it's not as immediately visable).
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RE: My response.

Postby UtsusuAssassin » Tue 07.10.2007 2:20 pm

Rock Lee wrote:
I know that this is don't have something with Japanese!

but I'm wondering if Chinese use letters on it languge!

I can know the different between Japanese and Chinese by the letters!

on Japanese you find hiragana katakana and kanji!

on Chinese I just see kanji!

( sorry if my question was silly! but I really like to know! )

and thanx! :)


Yup they only use kanji ^ - ^;; but its not that hard if you pretty much know all of the japanese standard kanji. Just know that the pronounciation for the same character is not the same in the chinese language. but if you already mastered japanese, you can pretty much get by in china by reading and writing only hahhaha if the person you're asking a question is patient enough to wait for you to write down the question. xD
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Chikubi » Wed 07.11.2007 11:44 pm

UtsusuAssassin wrote:
Rock Lee wrote:
I know that this is don't have something with Japanese!

but I'm wondering if Chinese use letters on it languge!

I can know the different between Japanese and Chinese by the letters!

on Japanese you find hiragana katakana and kanji!

on Chinese I just see kanji!

( sorry if my question was silly! but I really like to know! )

and thanx! :)


Yup they only use kanji ^ - ^;; but its not that hard if you pretty much know all of the japanese standard kanji. Just know that the pronounciation for the same character is not the same in the chinese language. but if you already mastered japanese, you can pretty much get by in china by reading and writing only hahhaha if the person you're asking a question is patient enough to wait for you to write down the question. xD


That's not entirely true actually, for instance the word 'eat' 食べる uses the kanji 食 but in Chinese it's 吃 even though the kanji 食 still means eat. Another example the word 'dog' 犬, Chinese use 狗 (but they also have the character 犬 which also means dog ofcourse) but still you can get pretty far if u mastered japanese kanji.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Teh_Freak » Thu 07.12.2007 12:33 am

Y'all seem to be forgetting about Bopomofo, it seems to be mainly used in children's books, like furigana.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby AJBryant » Thu 07.12.2007 10:41 am

But only in Taiwan. The PRC doesn't use it.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 07.12.2007 11:25 am

UtsusuAssassin wrote:
Yup they only use kanji ^ - ^;; but its not that hard if you pretty much know all of the japanese standard kanji. Just know that the pronounciation for the same character is not the same in the chinese language. but if you already mastered japanese, you can pretty much get by in china by reading and writing only hahhaha if the person you're asking a question is patient enough to wait for you to write down the question. xD


I can't tell if you honestly believe this or if you were just making a joke.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Thu 07.12.2007 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby katafei » Thu 07.12.2007 11:32 am

I doubt if what Utsusu says is valid, although knowing Jaoanese might help you reading the menu in a Chinese restaurant ^_^
However, there are a lot of different Chinese dialects, and I gathered that even though people from different places may not understand each other when they speak, they will be able to communicate by writing down characters.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 07.12.2007 2:21 pm

That's because they learn to read and write "standard" Chinese.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Kamwah » Mon 08.13.2007 11:33 pm

Chinese has no letters and only use kanji (i.e. Chinese characters). In Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, the traditional script is used. In the mainland China, the simplified script is used.

There are many dialects in Chinese. The standard form of spoken Chinese is called Mandarin (also called "Putonghua" in the mainland China), which is based on the northern dialect.

The Japanese name of Mandarin is 北京語 (ペキンご). "北京” means "Beijing".
Last edited by Kamwah on Mon 08.13.2007 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby JaySee » Tue 08.14.2007 1:47 am

One of the reasons I'm not studying Chinese but Japanese is that most of the simplified characters are so incredibly ugly. I mean, honestly. Of course you could go and learn the traditional ones, but since they're only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau that doesn't make much sense either, efficiency-wise... though I might give it a go sometime in the future :p

I read somewhere that for simplified Chinese knowledge of about 3000 characters is 'sufficient' and for traditional Chinese about 4000. I think quite a funny example of Chinese-Japanese character miscommunication is the fact that while in Japanese 手紙 means letter, in Chinese it means toilet paper (though it might be an old or barely used term... I dont know as I don't speak Chinese).
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby stevie » Tue 08.14.2007 2:52 am

While I've been learning Chinese I've noticed that for characters that are used in Japanese too, usually it's the simplified form rather than the traditional (though not always - also consider I'm only at the beginner level and can only write 100 hanzi from memory. I'm interested in finding out if this trend continues though).

I'm not sure if Japan simplified these after China did or what. To be honest, learning Simplified then learning Traditional isn't so hard (at least I haven't found it so). Infact if I know the simplified version first, the traditional somehow becomes a lot easier to remember, even though sometimes it's far more complex.

As for reading, my textbook says the 1000 most used hanzi in Chinese account for 90% of most texts, then next 1000 take it up to 98%, then the 1000 after that take it up to 99.5% or so.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Kamwah » Thu 08.16.2007 9:57 am

Both Chinese and Japanese used the same writing of kanji (i.e. Traditional Chinese) in the past. Japan simplified the kanji in 1946 and the mainland China simplified the kanji in 1956.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau didn't follow the simplification and still use the traditional script. The population of Traditional Chinese is just about 30 million.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 08.16.2007 2:25 pm

Simplified Chinese characters are not the same as Japanese simplified, though. On the whole, Japanese kanji are a lot closer to traditional characters than simplified.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby Kdar » Mon 11.12.2007 1:09 pm

I was one thinking about learning Chinese.
The thing that turn me down from this idea was their 4 intonations. And also bigger amount of Kanjis.

But actually.. Now I think Chinese is not harder or easier then Japanese.

And also Chinese sure have very simple and easy grammar I think.
And those intonations are just something that one need to get use to.
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RE: do Chinese use letters or only kanji!???

Postby everdream » Mon 11.12.2007 1:21 pm

I've been wondering for a while, how do Chinese children read? Do they have an equivilent of furigana, or can they just not read untill they've learnt how to read all the hanzi?
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