Thursday, July 24, 2008

Many Ethnic groups are found in China, and is this charming image romancing their appeal.......romance........romanisation........ Chinese Mandarin is an ancient living language with pictographic writing and it once underwent Romanisation.
About fifty years ago the Chinese government established a standard official version (called Putonghua or Hanyu - language of the Han people - the majority people.
The amazing written characters were simplified and made easier to write (really!) and Romanisation saw the Pinyin system adopted to express the sounds of the language, for example via vowels etc. Another trick is that tones are used to express the differences in meaning of the same sound.
As well as the simplified characters those seen in newspapers, in books or in headings use slightly different fonts.
Traditional characters are more complex and unsimplified and might be seen used in Taiwan or in Hong Kong and in the global communities - probably used in the printed menu at the local Chinese Cafe. The characters are also seen in Japanese and in some Korean texts and in other instances of which I am unaware.
Each Chinese character is pronounced as a single syllable and has its own meaning. They are combined.
The other decorative cursive styles found in calligraphy make a beautiful art form.
Incredible examples of fine characters carved into stone slabs or steles are found preserved in collections - the Stele Forest is one that can be seen.
It seems that maps and place names underwent modernisation as well and dual versions can exist to test the wits, locations become quite unintelligible on certain maps.

Most of this information is from the book Ni Hao by Fredlein and Fredlein, published by China Soft, Brisbane, 2001. The little symbols for accents etc in above words have been omitted. More complex discussion as to the key to learning Mandarin is on this link.

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