Chinese characters

All posts tagged Chinese characters

Chinese Characters: Simplified or Traditional?

For people who don’t have a background in Chinese, the distinction between simplified and traditional forms of Chinese characters may be unclear. In fact, many people don’t realize that Chinese characters have these two forms of standard writing. So for those contemplating studying Chinese or just starting out, which version is best to learn?

Simplified vs. traditional Chinese characters

It’s important to first note that this can be a very sensitive cultural and political issue for many people, so it may be best to avoid debates around simplified and traditional Chinese. In this post and on this site, we aim to completely avoid taking any side and simply want to provide information to our readers. In fact, our game app Chinese Fridge features both simplified and traditional Chinese characters because both are used by millions of people and have their own desirable aspects.

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Pinyin: A Chinese Alphabet Learning System

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Chinese teachers and educators almost unanimously agree that Chinese must be learned with Chinese characters, but most are also using the Pinyin Chinese alphabet system to help facilitate learning. While the Pinyin alphabet shouldn’t be used exclusively to learn Chinese or as a writing system, it can definitely help students with memorizing and perfecting pronunciation.

Now that we’ve covered how to explain Chinese characters to kids and why the written Chinese character system is not an alphabet, let’s take a look at a true alphabet that can be used for learning Chinese — the Pinyin alphabet.

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Explaining Chinese Writing to Kids: It’s Not an Alphabet

Cover page of the Shuo wen zhen ben, a dictionary dedicated to etymological descriptions of Chinese characters.

Author’s Note: If you’re looking for a Chinese alphabet that resembles English, check out our article explaining Pinyin.

Many parents who visit our website are looking for a guide to help explain written Chinese to kids, often searching for information about a “Chinese Alphabet.” But while English speakers are used to writing using a phonetic system, written Chinese is not an alphabet, but instead a vast set of distinct characters that have an assigned pronunciation (or sometimes more than one pronunciations, based on usage and meaning).

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Sneak Peak of Dim Sum Chinese Fridge Game App

Who’s hungry for some dim sum? Our next Chinese game app is in development and the topic is mouth watering!

Xia Jiao

To give you a little “taste” of what’s to come, check out this prototype art for shrimp dumplings, or 蝦餃 (xia jiao) in Chinese. We hope this next set of vocabulary will help kids learn Chinese characters and words for dim sum, but we can’t guarantee it won’t make them hungry, too!

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Chinese Alphabet for Kids Misconception

Author’s Note: If you’re looking for a Chinese alphabet that resembles English, check out our article explaining Pinyin.

We’ve heard parents ask about a “Chinese alphabet for kids” a lot, and each time we have to clarify that Chinese traditionally doesn’t really have an alphabet. But while Chinese people don’t really use an alphabet, there are two predominant phonetic systems that are basically alphabets, but Chinese people never use these to communicate — they’re seen as a learning aid for foreign people and small children. Instead, Chinese people read and write using Chinese characters, which are often comprised of shared base elements known as “radicals”.

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