Thu Apr 24th, 2008 at 05:06:34 PM EST
Many Westerners think that reading and writing in Chinese characters is extremely difficult.
Well, it's not as hard as one might think.
Here is a friendly hand to get you started.
Are you ready to learn your first (simplified) Chinese character?
Well, here it is:
人 means person
This character is a radical and is used to build more complicated characters. There are about 300 of these radicals in the simplified system which is used in mainland (PRC) China.
From that, one can imagine a person with their arms stretched out like this:
大 which means big
or a person with his (her) arms by their side:
小 which means little
Many of these radicals can be easily memorized when one knows the story behind them. Here is another example:
This is the symbol for sun:
日 - sun
This is the symbol for tree:
木 - tree
Two trees together make a forest:
木 木 - forest
But a tree with roots means root or source or origin:
本 - origin
The symbol for Japan means "origin of the sun" (land of the rising sun):
日本 - Japan
What good are these symbols? Well, if you travel in China, you will be able to read some of the signs, as well as communicate with the people there. As dialects change from region to region in China, but the writing stays the same, by tracing some of these symbols on your left hand with your right index finger, you can communicate the same way people from two different dialects communicate in China.
More in the next diary.