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Traditional Characters

New Theory About Chinese Characters

Traditional characters actually are come from Kaishu. It reserves chinese written language culture as it developed from the ancient time to the present. It consists of many characteristics which are worth reserving, including “Six Categories” and the new theory of the character structure.

The new theory uses a scientific method to analyse Chinese characters to improve the insufficiency of “Six Categories”. This theory is more complete, systematic and widely adapted to Chinese Characters from any dynasties. “Form Imitation” (a) Depict objects according to their shapes (b) Include around 600 Chinese characters (c) Oldest characters generally

象形 Pictograms “Indication” (a) Express an abstract idea through an iconic form, including iconic modification of pictographic characters



Derivative Cognates

Simple ideograms

“Reciprocal Meaning” (a) Characters having similar meanings and often same etymological root, but having diverged in pronunciation and meaning

六書 Six Categories




Ideogrammatic Compounds

“Borrowing” (a) Create another homophonous characters to express abstract meanings (b) New character is created for the original meaning, if extended use would take over completely

It contributed a lot in the mainland as it improved the illiteracy rate when China was still undeveloped in 1950s. With more educated people, economic development was boosted. Besides, many simplified characters take reference from Caoshu. It also has its own cultural value.

Principles of the theory

It is to break characters into particular parts in order to understand the original meaning. Parts of the character can be divided into basic and compound components.

Complete Character 整字

睬 “Joined Meaning” (a) Two or more pictographic or ideographic characters combined to suggest a third meaning (b) One or more of the components compressed or abbreviated

First Level 第一層次

First Level Component 一級部件

Second Level 第二層次

形聲 Phono-semantic Compounds


Simplified Characters

“Form & Sound” (a) A character with a phonetic element and a character with a meaning element (b) Include > 90% of Chinese characters (c) Complex characters created through several combinations

Development of Simplified Characters Compound Component -Refer to the parts which can be broken again.

Basic Component -Refer to the parts which cannot to be broken again.

爪 木 Second Level Component 二級部件

簡 簡 繁

China Taiwan Macau HongKong

The Distribution of Chinese Characters = Simplified Chinese = Traditional Chinese

Simplified characters are often used among mainland Chinese. Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

In the past, China has long been a feudal society. Many Chinese were farmers and lacked education. Complicated structures of traditional chinese was difficult to learn. Over hundred millions were illiterate. This prevented the development of the society.

In 1950, after establishment of the People's Republic of China, it started reforming Chinese characters by simplification for the purposes of (1)decreasing illiteracy rate and (2)transforming the characters into pinyin so as to develop as phonetic alphabets.

Mass people found them useful and convenient. Simplification was a great success, particularly to children and adults who have begun to learn the characters. They were enthusiastic to learn them. Trial has proved that the scheme was workable.

Poster 2_Ng Cheuk Ting  

會意 形聲 假借 Phono-semantic Compounds “Form Imitation” (a) (b) (c) = Simplified Chinese = Traditional Chinese Principles of the theory “Reciproc...

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