About Chinese Alphabet

Although there are numerous searches for Chinese Alphabets in search engines; and that there are numerous of websites which caters about Chinese Alphabet, the truth is there is no Chinese Alphabet.

First and foremost, what is an Alphabet?

The alphabet is a phonetic system where the individual sounds of the language are represented with letters. Letters are symbols which only have phonetic values and do not mean anything by themselves. The letters should either be formed into a word or read together in order to be understood as a concept.

Chinese writing on the other hand uses a character. These characters are symbols that represents a word, an object or an idea unlike that of the English Alphabet.

The difference between the Alphabet and the Chinese Characters does not stop with the phoneme and morpheme alone. Majority of the alphabet, besides that of English, does not exceed 50. The Chinese writing system have a scope of over 80,000 characters.

For a person to read a newspaper, he must have memorized at least 3,000 characters. Small dictionaries have atleast 6,000 characters in them, while the much larger dictionaries ranges from 40,000 to 50,000 characters in them. However, despite overwhelming number of characters existing in the Chinese writing system, only about 6,000 characters are essential in everyday use and Chinese students acquire these in the course of several years.

While it may be true that there are no existing Chinese Alphabet, writing systems to transcribe the Chinese characters to Latin characters were created. These systems is singularly called as romantization.

Existing romanization systems are as follows:

  • Hanyu Pinyin
  • MPS2
  • Gwoyeu Romatzyh (Guoyu Luomazi)
  • Sin Wenz (Xin Wenzi)
  • Tongyong Pinyin
  • Wade-Giles
  • Yale

Among these writing system, Hanyu Pinyin is the internationally adapted standard system of romanized spelling for transliterating Chinese.



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