View Full Version : Importance of Learning Chinese Writing

01-17-2011, 09:27 AM
There are an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 billion native Chinese speakers in the world. The various dialects of Chinese make it the most widely spoken language group in the world. Chinese is an official language in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao and Malaysia, among others. In addition, Chinese is a common second language in many places, including Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia--especially in the northern areas closer to the Chinese border.

The Two Character Systems
1. There are now two forms of Chinese written characters. Traditional characters, used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and many countries outside of mainland China, are much more complicated than mainland Chinese simplified characters. The complexity requires that students expend more time and effort to learn and memorize the traditional characters. It also lowers overall literacy rates, and people have a tendency to forget how to write some more complex characters several years after leaving school.
Overcome Dialects
2. Although the official language in China is Mandarin Chinese, there are many local dialects. In fact, there are often several sub-dialects of a particular dialect, such as Northern and Southern Hakkanese in Taiwan. Although most people speak Mandarin, a certain percentage don't. Because all of the dialects use the same written characters, learning to read and write Chinese can help facilitate communication in some rural areas.
Local News
3. In many Chinese-speaking areas, English language news is hard to find and often very limited. Although watching broadcast news in Chinese will give some news, newspapers are considered the most comprehensive news source in many Chinese-speaking places. Learning to read and write Chinese allows you to read local newspapers, giving you international news and a good sense of local news and people.
4. Many Chinese phrases and concepts do not translate well into English or other languages. The concepts of many Taoist and Confucian works are altered or lost by translation. Some poetry simply cannot be translated. By learning to read and write Chinese, you're able to read many classics, much poetry, and even some 20th century political writing without losing meaning in translation.
Travel & Navigation
5. Although many major Chinese-speaking cities offer street signs with romanized Chinese, some medium-sized cities do not--and very few small towns offer street signs with anything other than Chinese. Even with the romanization, many smaller streets and lanes aren't marked with Western characters; in many rural areas, signs are completely in Chinese. Learning to read and write Chinese allows you to navigate through many lesser-known areas of Chinese-speaking countries.