Rudiments of Chinese Character Writing
author: Zhang Pengpeng
publishing house: PEKING UNIVERSITY PRESS
number of editions: first edition in December 1997
number of print: third print in March 2002
number of pages: 196 pages
wordage (thousand words): 330 thousand words
format: 16 format
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Chinese characters are classified in the book into pictographic, self-explanatory, associative compounds and pictophonetic types for the explanation of their structures and strokes. Each stoke of the character is illustrated. Common words and phrases are attached to each character. All illustrations have English translations.
This book is a textbook on how to write Chinese characters prepared specially for foreigners.
For a long time, Chinese characters have been regarded as the most difficult writing, and many foreign students have felt it so hard to learn Chinese characters that they gave up their study of the Chinese language all together.
Chinese characters are hard to learn because they are complex. However, I believe that another reason why the Chinese language all together.
At present, when we teach foreigners Chinese characters, we basically follow the teaching mode of “written after spoken”, that is, we teach Chinese characters after we come across them in our talks. I think such teaching mode is suitable for the teaching of the alphabetic system of writing but not for the teaching of Chinese characters.
The form, sound, and meaning of a Chinese character are integrated. Every character has a contain form, pronunciation and meaning. Their forms represent meaning but not pronunciation. Cheese writhing is an ideographic system.
Chinese characters have a logical, discernible structure. The basic component is a stroke, of which a number make up an independent character. Independent characters or character components make up combined characters. When we teach written Chinese characters, we teach strokes first, then forms of Chinese characters. Students may learn the main meaning of the forms of Chinese characters while memorizing their forms with the help of their meanings. In this way, they will feel it easier to learn and write Chinese characters.
The teaching mode of “written after spoken” does not adding teaching only throw it into confusion of Chinese characters in their natural order, and will formation. If today you teach “你好”(How are you!), and tomorrow you teach “谢谢”(Thank you.), the writing of these characters cannot be taught in a systematic way, difficulties will be increased.
The teaching of reading Chinese can be separated form that of Chinese character writing. Reading is easier than writing. One who is not able to write down all Chinese characters, may be able to read all of them. This is a fact we have learned form our teaching. Since reading can be separated from writing, the teaching of writing Chinese characters may not go alongside the reading of the written language in the primary stage of learning. It can be carried out independently in accordance with the characteristics of the formation of Chinese characters. By following a natural order and advancing step by step, beginning with independent characters and then combined characters, form the simple to the complex, and from the easy to the difficult. The systematic teaching of the formation of Chinese characters may not only make it easier to teach, but more importantly help students to understand the structural relations between Chinese characters to better remember the form, meaning and pronunciation of a character.
There are more than 3500 Chinese characters in common use, each of whose structure has a regular pattern. Therefore, as students master the basic strokes, independent characters and character components, (which were derived from independent characters) as well as the pattern of the structure of the characters, they will be able to analyze the forms of Chinese characters and learn new Chinese characters by themselves. It is not necessary to teach students all the 3500 characters, but it is necessary to help them to understand the pattern of the structure of characters, and master the basic technique of writing them.
It is in the above mentioned spirit, that this textbook is written.
The first chapter introduces the characteristics of Chinese characters, and the major difference between characters and alphabetic writing.
The second chapter introduces the basic strokes for writing Chinese characters and the rules of stroke order observed in calligraphy.
The third chapter introduces the important position of independent Chinese characters in the system of Chinese characters, and the 80 most important and commonly used pictographic characters, each of which has an explanation of its expression (the simplified form and the original complex form), pronunciation, meaning, strokes and stroke order. There are also places for students to practice writing.
The fourth chapter introduces indicative characters by the above-mentioned method.
The fifth chapter introduces 70 associative characters. It also introduces the structure of combined characters.
The sixth chapter introduces about 80 pictophonograms.
And the seventh chapter introduces the concept of “Bushou”, radicals by which characters are arranged in Chinese dictionaries, and a group of Chinese characters with the same elements or basic structural parts of Chinese characters under each Bushou. This lesson covers 73 Bushou in common use and more than 200 characters.
The whole book introduces more than 400 Chinese characters, most of which are characters frequently in use. A few rarely used characters are also introduced. The reason why we introduce them is because of their strong capacity of forming characters and serving as basic structural parts of other Chinese characters or Bushou.
To help students to search for Chinese characters, the book has a “Catalogus of Chinese characters” and an “Index of Syllables of the Phonetic Transcriptions of Chinese Characters” attached to it.
The purpose of the book is to help students to easily remember the form of Chinese characters and to acquire the ability to write them. Therefore, the classification of some Chinese characters and the analysis of the structural relations in Chinese characters, which are based on my teaching practice, are different from the convention. This is a first attempt in teaching, and comments from experts and colleagues will be appreciated.
Chapter 1 Characteristics of Chinese characters
Chapter 2 Basic strokes and stroke – orders
Chapter 3 Independent characters (1) – Pictonrams
Chapter 4 Independent characters (2) – Indicative characters
Chapter 5 Combined characters (1) – Associative characters
Chapter 6 Combined characters (2) – Pictophonograms
Chapter 7 Radicals and Chinese characters
Catalogue of Chinese characters
Index of Syllables of the Phonetic Transcriptions of Chinese Characters
Typefaces of Chinese characters
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