February 19, 2016

Chinese character types

Chinese characters look the same to us Westerners in the sense that they all seem equally complicated, but when we look closer, we find that there are actually many structurally different types of Chinese characters. Some of them are really pictures of whatever they represent, so for instance 人 'person' is really a picture of a person and 女 'woman' is really a picture of a woman. 

Then there are other types of Chinese characters, much more abstract and much more complicated, with fancy names like the phono-semantic compounds or derived characters and I would like to introduce them to you one by one. 


This series of articles will be an end result of a project which I have been working on for over three and a half years. I will be publishing a book on Chinese characters and wanted to give you a glimpse of what will be inside as well ask you for any comments or suggestions you might have to make the book as enjoyable and useful as possible. 

In line with my philosophy of minimalism and effectivisim, the book will be very clean and easy to use, combining the absolutely best modern Chinese character research with the best learner experience. 

A lot of time and effort has been put into transforming the complicated research data into easy to understand 'look once, understand immediately' chunks. No clutter, or lumping of information onto the reader. Just an enjoyable learning experience.

For more information and regular updates about this and my other projects feel free to subscribe to my mailing list

Learn more about:
Pictograms
Compound pictograms

10 comments:

  1. picture character!!!! it's amazing how it evolves from long time ago until the characters today. I'm from Malaysia but a lot of us has chinese heritage and it's a proud that we keep learning chinese until today.

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  2. Hi Vladimir - when will the book be ready? I'm keen to buy it already!

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    1. Just designed the cover today:)

      A lot of optimization and checking has to be done, because I would like it to be as good as possible, hopefully rivaling the best books on Chinese characters out there. It has a lot of features, that no other books have too. Just fast, single-trial learning, top-level research, nice design and an overall good experience:)

      If all goes well, it should be out by the end of September.

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  3. Hi, I want to know if the book will be also in Slovak language , or only in English? And if it the book will be available in Slovakia's bookshops too?

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    1. Hello Patrik. The book will be available only in English for now, but I would like to translate it into other languages later. It will be published as a PDF only, so it will be available in Slovakia too.

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  4. Hi, Valdimir
    因為沒有接觸過對外籍人士的中文教育內容,所以並不清楚對於中文字的教育重點為何。
    但在我所受過的教育中,提出幾個重點供您參考。
    1.六書的判斷
    常見的象形、形聲、會意、指事等四種關於文字構造的方法,對於陌生文字的判讀會有幫助,就像我們的俗話"有邊讀邊",或許可以考慮於書中所介紹的文字進行歸類。

    2.部首的判斷
    能夠判定一個字的部首,在使用上更能適切的選用正確的字詞,例如:光耀的耀從光不從足,手腕的腕從肉不從月

    3.書寫的筆劃順序
    當然,在時代變遷之下,書寫的機會變少,筆劃順序對於學習中文的外籍人士似乎也沒有其必要性。就連台灣的年輕族群也越來越少人在意正確的筆劃順序了

    對於書中引用古字體的部份,在我主觀的看法認為,中文字對於英語體系國家的人來說就像是一張張的圖片,學習中文字很容易變成圖像記憶的練習,對於一個文字的介紹如果還加上古字體,恐怕會造成初學者的負擔。至少,接觸古字體是在我們青少年時期才會發生,而學習研究古字體只有專門科系才會有這樣的教育。

    以上觀點供您參考

    另外,書籍封面小弟有個想法
    以白底黑字版本為基礎,拿掉古字體,用各種語言的"字"(character in different languages)打成淡灰鋪底,襯托出主標題,中文的"字"。
    畢竟,懂得19種語言不正好是您的強項?

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    1. Jerry 你好,

      謝謝你的留言。

      書籍封面我們這邊已經決定好了要用藍綠色字的那個。

      我自己花了很多時間考慮這個問題,但從很多,包括行銷方面角度來講,藍綠色封面比較適合。

      文濤

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  5. I hope you did not cancel this fantastic project of a book, if it comes out as an actual book, I will even buy it, this simplistic style paired with minimalism is unique. Your Youtube Videos are a pure archive of knowledge about the Chinese orthography.
    However, I would definitely support this book-in-process :-)

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    1. Thank you very much!:) It's almost done. There's always something that needs a bit of tweaking but it's almost done. I'll be posting updates here and on my youtube channel.

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