Welcome to the official Chinese page of the Gathering Of All Languages!
Let me briefly explain how the Chinese language works!
Chinese is a language of characters. Instead of using a traditional alphabet, it uses pictograms. The reason for this is that in early times, the language began as a sort of art, as drawing rather than writing. For example, the word horse, like many others, evolved from pictures into characters. Just see for yourself:
(Left: Traditional. Right: Simplified)
In Chinese, there are two forms: traditional and simplified. Simplified Chinese was created so that the average person living in China could learn to read and write more easily. Traditional is still used but is becoming less commonplace due to convenience.
Pinyin is the romanization system used for the sake of pronunciation. It uses the Western alphabet to spell out the way a character is pronounced and includes the tones. There are four standard tones and a fifth neutral tone in Chinese. Additionally, each pronunciation can mean many different words, depending on the character to which it refers. This makes learning Chinese even more difficult than it is to begin with!
Nevertheless, Chinese is becoming a more and more important language to know in international affairs. Not only is it the most widely spoken language in the world, it is also growing in the world of business, paralleling the augmenting strength of the Chinese economy.
Here are some interesting facts about China and Chinese:
- China has a population of about 1,339,724,852 people. It has the largest population in the world, with 19.3% of the world population in its boundaries.
- A National Geographics issue with the “typical” human face reveals that the average person on Earth is a 28-year old Han Chinese male.
- Calligraphy is the art of fine writing. It uses brushes to artistically produce Chinese characters.
- The 2008 Summer Olympics took place in Beijing, China.
- The Great Wall can be seen by the human eye from outer space.
- The Four Greatest Ancient Chinese Inventions are the compass, paper, gunpowder, and printing. Some personal favorite inventions are fireworks and ice cream.
- In Chinese names, the surname always precedes the first name. For instance, my name would be Zhang Sharon, or in Chinese, 章雪雯。
I hope this gave you a good picture of China!