Chinese Language and Alphabet

About 1/5 of the world’s population speaks Chinese.  Mandarin is the official language of China, Taiwan, and Singapore.  Other Chinese languages include (in the order of which they are spoken):  Wu, Cantonese, and Min.  There are over 3,000 dialects of Chinese spoken in China, but only one way to write Chinese.

The Chinese language has had a great impact on the Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese languages.  Chinese symbols are used in both the Korean and Japanese written languages. The first Chinese symbols were based on hieroglyphic pictures.

Today, there are about 20,000 different characters in the Chinese language.  Half of these are used in everyday communication.  Each Chinese word uses 2-3 different characters.  There are over 100,000 Chinese words in the Chinese language.

You can see the beauty of how the symbols are written with these examples.  Twenty-six letters are chosen below to look like the English alphabet.  The Chinese word for each symbol is also included.  Can you see each of the 26 English alphabet letters?

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Online Chinese lessons for kids:

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