Thursday, 10 May 2007

Learning Chinese R/W way - Lesson 3

The ability to read Chinese depends on an ability to distinguish between different words. Here are a few words that we have learnt and may confuse you:
To confuse you even further, 干 is yet a different word.

To be able to really see the difference, you should understand how Chinese characters are written. Wikipedia has a good article on the eight basic writing principles. Read it now. I will be waiting for you here. Come back after reading it.

千 starts with a "short tapering line thinning toward lower left" (Stroke 7) whereas 干 starts with a "straight horizontal line" (Stroke 2).

Note all the words above do NOT end with "A hook to the left". The last strokes of all of them are just "straight vertical line".

Chinese characters can be written in different "style" or "scripts". Most computer font style is based on either "Clerical" or "Regular" scripts. Now take a look at the example, again from Wikipedia before continuing.

If you have looked carefully, you should have noticed that nearly all strokes start with a slightly larger "head" (in regular script) because when we write them, we pause slightly (or press down the brush slightly) before continuing the stroke. When it is time to turn, we also pause slight (or press down the brush slightly), again creating a slight thicker node. There are two ways to end a stroke: finish the stroke by lifting the brush or by pausing. Please note that some words only differ by how a single stroke was ended.

Please sensitise yourself to these differences. This will be very useful to recognise different Chinese Characters.

In this lesson, we have not learnt any new words. But I hope you have a better understand and ability to find the differences between words that may look similar.

Chinese does not have tense. In the next lesson, we shall learn how Chinese express the time concept we shall talk about pronouns.

PS After I wrote this, I found another useful site which shows how to count pen strokes as well as the order of how to write the character.

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