Exploring Chinese and Chinese words.

Intro

The Chinese language (Zhongwen) has a fairly consistent written language (wen) but many different dialects (yu or fangyan).

Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) is the official spoken dialect of the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China on Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Standard Mandarin is based upon the Mandarin (Beifanghua "Northern speech" or Beifang fangyan "Northern dialects") group of dialects. There are many other Chinese dialects and dialect groups, but the next two largest groups are Wu and Cantonese (Yue).

Vernacular Chinese (baihua "plain language") is based upon Standard Mandarin. Historically Vernacular Chinese followed Classical Chinese (wenyan) which followed Old/Archaic Chinese.

A Chinese word or phrase (ci) is a unit of meaning that is represented by one or more characters (zi). Chinese characters or Han characters (Hanji. Kanji in Japanese. Hanja or hamun in Korean. Han tu in Vietnamese) are logographs that are either pictograms (pictorial representations of a word or morpheme) or ideograms are graphical approximations of abstract ideas.

Chinese has no syllabic symbols such as the Hiragana and Katakana of Japanese. Chinese has no alphabetic symbols such as the alphabet of English.

Most Chinese words are now Romanized using Pinyin (usu. Hanyu Pinyin, i.e. Romanization of Standard Mandarin). The older Wade-Giles (WG) Romanization system was widely influential and many common Chinese words are popularly known by the WG Romanization instead of the Pinyin Romanization. Other Romanization systems for Chinese include Yale, Guoinll, Zhuyin Fuhao (aka BoPoMoFo), and Gwoyeu Romatzyh (aka GR). Of course there are many people and entities who Romanized Chinese, but were are not linguists.

Tone is very important as this great Pinyin example from Wikipedia [Ref] shows:

  1. 妈, mā, ma with macron (ˉ), ma1,, "mother"
  2. 麻, má, ma with acute accent (ˊ), ma2, "hemp"
  3. 马, mǎ, ma with caron (ˇ), ma3, "horse"
  4. 骂, mà, ma with grave accent (ˋ), ma4, "insult"
  5. 吗, ma, ma with no accent or diacritical mark, ma5, a question particle

Here are the most popular character encodings used for Chinese:

Glossary

Chinese Numbers

Traditional [or Simplified] 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000,000
Regular GLYPH: Chinese or 0 GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese  or  GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese or GLYPH: Chinese
Formal (Daxie) GLYPH: Chinese or 0 GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese or GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese or GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese or GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese  or  GLYPH: Chinese GLYPH: Chinese or GLYPH: Chinese
Pinyin ling2 yi1 er4 san1 si4 wu3 liu4 qi1 ba1 jiu3 shi2 bai3 qian1 wan4 yi4

Some shorthand: GLYPH: Chinese (nian4) for twenty and GLYPH: Chinese (sa4) for thirty.

See more at Chinese Numbers [MandarinTools.com/numbers.html].

Miscellany

ching
ying (Pinyin). "classic", usu. a classical work. EG: I Ching.
di (ti)
Fraternal love. The cultivated feeling toward one's contemporaries.
feng shui
\fung schway\. Interior design and landscaping that utilizes Chinese chi concepts.
I Ching
易经 (Simplified), 易經 (Traditional), Yi4 Jing1 (Pinyin). Aka I Jing; Yi Ching; Yi King; The Book of Changes; Classic of Changes. A pre-Confucian book, the oldest of the Chinese classical texts. I Ching theory is roughly the balance of opposites (Yin (陰 or 阴) and Yang (陽 or 阳)) and  acceptance of change. I have to verify the concept of Wuji (balanced Yin and Yang) because some major Yin Yang sources don't mention Wuji at all. The I Ching is often associated with the Tai Chi Symbol (太極圖, tàijítú (Pinyin), Unicode x262F (9775): ☯).
Yin Yang
broken or open line
¦  --  :
unbroken or solid line
| —
moon sun
night day
dark light
cool warm
rest active
feminine masculine
north south
west east
winter summer
autumn spring
right left
introversion extroversion
earth heaven
jen
ren (Pinyin). Human-heartedness. Natural and humanistic love, based upon spontaneous feelings cultivated through education. Intuition, a kind of moral insight that results from ethical education and life experience that provides a reliable evaluation of the scene of life.
jingshen kongxu
"spiritual vacuum". A lack of heart.
junzi (chun-tzu)
Superior or perfect person.
li
Social norms. Rituals, rites, and proprieties. The behavioral norms in terms of which one's cultivated feelings is expressed.
Lunyu (Lun-yu)
Analects. A collection of notes and quotations written by the disciples of Confucius.
Tao Te Ching
Dao De Ching (Pinyin), Classic of the Way and Virtue.
wúcháng
Buddhist impermanence. The bittersweet impermanence of things.
wuwei (wu-wei)
Non-action.
yi (i)
(1) Righteousness or proper character. The habitual practice of expressing one's cultivated feeling at the right times and in the right places.

(2)易. Yì. As an adjective, "easy" or "simple". As a verb, "to change".
xiao (hsiao)
Filial piety. The cultivated feeling towards one's parents.
yuhangyuan
"travelers of the universe". An astronaut. A popular English variation is taikonaut, after taikong, the Chinese word for space.
zhengming (cheng ming)
Rectification of names. The enforcement of yi in the use of li.
zhong (chung)
Loyalty. The cultivated feeling toward one's superiors, lord, emperor, employers, or one's own country.

Links

Here are links that lead to off-site pages about Chinese.

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