December 16, 2006 1:49am CST
Can someone tell me how many characters are in the Chinese alphabet. I have heard Chinese is a very difficult language to learn. Is this true?
• United States
16 Dec 06
There is no Chinese alphabet in the sense we understand. Chinese characters are not letters. Although there are a lot of exceptions, Chinese characters represent a concept, an idea or an object. The Chinese computerized fonts for words processor include 6500 characters for the simplified form and 13500 for the traditional form.
20 Dec 06
Good explanations here. The only thing that can be said to be anywhere near an "alphabet" would be the radicals, which are the most basic pictographs, such as man (ren), heart (xin), etc. These can be added together to make more complex words. For example, take the symbol for tree, and add 3 together to make the word forest. Unfortunately, not all the words are that easy to comprehend. By the way, it has been studied that if you know only 250 characters, you can identify around 90% of the most commonly used characters. That makes basic chinese not as difficult to learn as you may think.