Graphicness of Chinese Characters


The day has finally arrived that I found the courage to dive into the complicated world of Chinese characters. I started learning a bit of Mandarin in 2010 but left the writing aside, because I never thought I would be able to master the memorizing. But the script kept intriguing me. As a designer I admire the graphicness of written Chinese.

Chinese characters (Hanzi) are independent of any spoken version of the language. Chinese has several dialects, many of which are as different from Mandarin as Dutch is from English. But here’s the amazing thing: every dialect uses the same Hanzi to write things down (although in Hong Kong and Taiwan, they use older, slightly more complex versions). Because every single character is connected to a whole word, it means that people who speak a different language, are still able to read each others notes.

As a literature-lover, I like the way layers of history are visible in written Chinese,  I love that 3000 year old concepts of social order, agriculture, and technology are literally still written down in Asia’s modern society of today.

“Shadow Play is Fun!” illustration by Qian Qian.


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