Chinese language and writing [ç-]. The Chinese language, the most important of theSino- Tibetan languages, is principally characterized by monosyllabism (monosyllabic) of the word roots, isolation (no affixes, i.e. educational syllables, and the like to designate grammatical categories that are only recognizable in Chinese by the word order, isolating languages) and word tones (probably added later). Due to its wide spread and its more than three millennia long development, it has undergone so many forms that actually several languages are hidden behind the Chinese language, which is only less because of the ideographic / logographic (terms and not sounds) Chinese writing that is independent of sound changes notices. The old Chinese very complicated sound with consonantic endings and v. a. Accumulations of consonants in the initial sound (which suggest an even more distant polysyllabic system) simplified to the most polished Peking dialect, comprising only (with tone differentiations around 1,600) sound complexes, which in modern times became the standard language (formerly Guan-hua, Kuan- hua, “Mandarin”, today Pu-tong-hua, P ‘ u-t’ung-hua, “common language” or Guo-yu, Kuo-yü, “state language”). The southern and south-eastern dialects (Cantonese, Hakka, Fukien and others) still partly retain the older phonetic state with a much more complicated word tone system. It is also reflected in the myriad Chinese loanwords that have been adopted by neighboring countries, especially Japan and Korea, along with Chinese culture. Since already in the dialects, v. a. But in the standard language, the few sound complexes were insufficient to reproduce the rich vocabulary and led to innumerable homonyms (identical but different meanings), word compositions were created to avoid confusion; so even very complicated terms could be expressed synthetically, so to speak, and in practice the language ultimately became “polysyllabic” again. At the same time, old grammatical auxiliary words gradually took on the function of affixes, so that the language slowly lost its “isolating” character and approached that of an “agglutinating” one (agglutinating languages). The literary language (“written language”, Wen-yan, Wen-yen), however, retained (with variations) the language level from around the middle of the 1st millennium BC, which fell further and further behind the lively development of language and (like classical Latin in the European cultural area) proved to be insufficient for modern needs. In a “literary revolution” that had been loudly proclaimed since 1917, literary language was abolished and replaced by colloquial language (“clear language”, Bai-hua, Pai-hua). Fixed proverb-like, mostly four-part expressions in the written language, some of which allude to old stories (Cheng-yu, Ch’eng-yü), but still occupy an important place in colloquial language. The literary use of colloquial language can be traced back to the 6th century in poetry. It can be traced back to the 19th century, in prose with Buddhist literature to the 8th century. She also dominated drama and novels unchallenged by the 13th century at the latest. The difficulties in finding oneself in Chinese literature in modern times are due not least to the total loss of the traditional means of expression in the written language, for which a reference system had to be gradually built up in colloquial language, a process that is still not fully completed today is.
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The Chinese script is in principle a word writing that was used in the 2nd millennium BC. Chr. Emerged from a picture script. The oldest testimonies appear in fully developed form since the middle of the 2nd millennium BC on the one hand on bones and turtle shells that were used for oracle purposes, on the other hand on sacred bronze vessels in which symbols were often cast. They are already divided into four types, which still exist side by side today, but which emerged one after the other: 1. simple images (“mountain”, “horse”); 2. composite images (“vessel” and “hands”: “lift up”); 3. figurative symbols borrowed from sound (»ran«: »but« written with the also pronounced »ran« symbol for »to light«); 4. compound characters, which consist of a (roughly) the category of meaning as well as an element indicating the pronunciation (Lautrebus) (“ma”: “mouth” and “horse” for “ma”: question particle). The emergence of the 4th group, which emerged only secondary from the later addition of the category elements from the 3rd, but today over7 ⁄ 8of the stock of characters, obstructed the transition to phonetic transcription; This was already created in the 3rd group, but could not be pursued further due to the isolating character of the Chinese language (lack of affixes and therefore meaningless sound bodies), unlike in Japanese, where a phonetic syllabary quickly derived from the Chinese script originated. The writing reform carried out by the Qindynasty (221–206 BC), in which various, partly local writing forms were standardized and v. a. were taken more abstractly, the basis of the font has remained up to the present day. However, apart from special calligraphic features, there are different font styles: 1. the archaic or archaic, “Seal inscriptions” based on the bronze inscriptions of various types (Zhuan-shu, Chuan-shu); 2. the chancellery or curial script (Li-shu); 3. the normal “sample script” (Kai-shu, K’ai-shu); 4. The italic fonts “Lauf -schrift” (Xing-shu, Hsing-shu) and “Gras-Schrift” (Cao-shu, Ts’ao-shu). Today, around 50,000 characters, of which around 3,500 are sufficient for normal reading, are made up of almost 1,000 simpler elements, some of which are used alone. The difficult-to-learn script not only promoted the development of scholarship in the past, but also made it much more difficult to adopt foreign words that can only be translated very imperfectly with it. Proposals for writing reform, which aimed either radically at the introduction of a western or indigenous (Zhu-yin zi-mu, Chu-yin tzu-mu) phonetic alphabet or at a simplification of characters, had been around since the end of the 19th century. After lengthy discussions, simplified characters were introduced for normal correspondence in the People’s Republic of China in 1958, which were largely based on forms that had always been used in italics. At the same time, the traditional font running in vertical lines from right to left was changed to the horizontal font. The romanization officially introduced at the end of the 1970s (Pinyin) remained an auxiliary script reserved for dealing with foreign countries, mainly used for names. Since then it has increasingly replaced the Wade-Giles romanization that was predominantly (but by no means alone) used until then. The basic retention of the own script ensures the understandability of written expressions also in dialect areas as well as the clarity of special terms that would otherwise be difficult to understand given the countless homonyms. In addition, it certainly has national causes, since the cultural identity of China has always been equated with writing.