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what is what in chinese?

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The Chinese language is spoken by about 1.37 billion people, making up about one fourth of the world’s population. It has been estimated that China will become the world’s most populous country in 2025 and its Mandarin language is now one of the most common languages globally. Chinese can be written with characters of various types, including logographic ones which are pictograms. These characters represent sounds and words with a single character instead of a sequence of sounds like in English or other European languages such as French or Spanish.

Logographic characters are used to write Chinese, but they are also used to write other languages such as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. The same character can represent a different word in different languages or mean the same thing in different languages. This is particularly true for characters that represent the same sound but represent a different word with a variety of meanings. For example 包 (pinyin: bāo) which means "basket" can be written as 裘 (jī), 袋 (dào), 香蕉 (xiāngjiāo) or 麻辣 (málà).

Apart from logographic characters there are also phonetic characters which represent sounds alone. They are a fairly recent invention. Phonetic characters usually represent one sound but can only be used to spell words that start with this sound and sometimes also words that end with it. For example the Chinese character 丑 (pinyin: chǒu) means "clown", "ugly" or "leather boot". It can only be used to spell words like 共 (tuán) which start with 杜, however it can be used to spell 吃 (chī) if you know what it is spelling.

In addition to characters Chinese can be written in the more modern roman alphabet. This is generally used in Hong Kong and Taiwan and has become popular with young people. It is also used on the internet.

title text: how many chinese characters do you know? http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/exercises/index_of_characters.htm

How many of these characters do you recognise? Answers at [email protected]

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