Writing System Links
There is an ever-growing body of material on CJV writing systems on the
Web, especially dealing with Chinese characters. The following are a few
links in rather haphazard order. TAKE NOTE - the most interesting articles
are not necessarily at the top!
has an extensive range of articles concerning Chinese characters and the
Chinese writing system. The main article has many links (e.g., Cantonese
Chinese) which are relevant to the Chinese writing system.
The ultimate site on Chinese characters is Chinese
Characters and Culture. It is highly interactive with explanations about
characters, etc and has a very good FAQ.
- Chinese a detailed and comprehensive site about Chinese characters.
List of the 300 most common Chinese characters as used in Chinese.
Written System - useful as it gives examples of the earlier stages
Kanji by Jean Pascal
Chauvet. An individual look at Chinese characters, their origins and their
characteristics by a Frenchman in Japan. Has elements of a personal oddysey,
making it interesting and refreshingly idiosyncratic.
chinoise: An introduction to the Chinese writing system (in French) with
lots of graphics showing the development of ancient forms, etc.
- Chinese - an introduction to the Chinese script and its origins.
A brief rundown on the Chinese writing system can be found at Chinese
Characters: Mysterious in Origin and Magical in Meaning
of the Chinese script from a conventional Chinese perspective.
systems: Chinese character writing: This page is interesting only because
it is so full of fallacies about the Chinese language and script. The author
knows nothing about Chinese. Read it at your own risk.
Check out this piece about the sort of writing system that would result if
English were written like Chinese. Slightly overstated, but you get the
This page on Characters
and Glyphs sets forth clearly the concept that all writing systems (including
Mayan and Chinese) make some resort to phonetics.
Pinyin.info is a must-read site. 'Most
of what most people think they know about Chinese -- especially when it comes
to Chinese characters -- is wrong. This website is aimed at contributing
to a better understanding of the Chinese languages and how romanization can
be used to write languages traditionally associated with Chinese characters'.
With extracts from a number of books and a fascinating look at a Chinese
language, Dungan, that is now written with the Cyrillic alphabet in Russia.
Language(s) David Jordan's take on the Chinese language, including
the writing system and dialects. (Jordan regards the monosyllabic character
system of Classical Chinese as the standard from which modern spoken Chinese
Jordan also has an interesting article on Creating
New Chinese Characters which deals with an example from Hokkienese.
The Chinese Language and Culture Forum has a long discussion on the proposition
characters are objectively harder, even for Chinese'. There
is a remarkably enlightened exchange between the proponents and opponents
of this view, degenerating with the appearance of rednecks halfway through.
Dictionary of Rare Chinese Characters (in Japanese) -- a priceless site
with photos of rare forms of Chinese characters, including Chinese dialect
characters, popular characters formed on phonetic principles, Japanese characters
(kokuji), auspicious characters, etc. Highly
A conversion chart between Wade-Giles and pin'yin can be found here.
To get information from the horse's mouth, check out the Agency for Cultural
language policy materials, which includes a table of the standard characters (jōyō kanji), correct kana usage, a comparison of old
and new kana usage, exceptional character readings, the treatment
of foreign words, romanisations, etc. In Japanese.
Kanji Networks: Etymologies of Chinese Characters as Used in Japan, by Lawrence Howell and Hikaru Morimoto, is an excellent searchable resource, clear and easy to use.
includes an introduction to Japanese, with a link to its writing system.
A very detailed introduction to the Japanese writing system can be found
at Jack Halpern's Guide
to the Japanese Writing System. (Adherence to "orthodoxy" makes
its explanations more convoluted than they need to be, especially concerning
A glorious site about the Japanese
writing system, written by Jim Belote. Lots of fun, too. Jim isn't an
expert on kanji, which makes him ask all the right questions!
- Japanese - a brief but lucid description of the Japanese writing system.
Mary Sisk Noguchi's series The Kanji
Clinic (appearing in the Japan Times) gives interesting insights into
the process of learning of kanji by adults.
Japanese Writing System (by Matthew White). A very good introduction to
the historical development of the Japanese writing system, in particular hiragana
and katakana (would be better if the graphics links weren't broken).
- Japanese has an explanation of the Japanese writing system.
A light-hearted step-by-step guide to hiragana, katakana, and
kanji can be found at the Kanji
Site. Very well done; useful for reference and self-testing.
A dictionary of Kanji
Surfers are spoilt for choice when looking for tables of Hiragana
and Katakana. Try these:
table and Katakana
table (Reveals the origins of the ordering a, i, u, e, o. Part of Shinji
Takasugi's excellent Teach
Yourself Japanese site).
And don't forget cjvlang's own Hiragana
& Katakana (pass your cursor over the top of each letter to reveal
the corresponding hiragana / katakana sign. Plus katakana
combinations used for writing foreign words.)
The following is an interesting page comparing the Japanese and Chinese writing
systems from the point of view of literacy: Chinese
characters, literacy, and the Japanese model
The same writer tests you on the reading of place names in Kyoto, Osaka,
Kobe, and Nara in: Hard-to-read
place names in the Kansai region. This is a salutary lesson in the arbitrary
way characters have been assigned to Japanese words.
A Japanese language site on the origins of the difference
between Go and Kan readings.
on kanji and computers
Quoc Ngu & General
More information on the quoc ngu and their pronunciation can be found
at this link: Guide
2020 - Writing Reform Proposal: A somewhat long-winded plea for the reform
of the current Vietnamese writing system (quoc ngu), specifically the
monosyllabic hangover from Chinese. Lots of information not just about the
writing system but also about the development of the language, its relationship
with Chinese, etc.
A very interesting, if partisan, view of the adoption of quoc ngu
can be found at the Language,
Identity, and Nationalism page. The article compares Vietnam's success
in throwing off Chinese cultural and political domination with the inability
of the Taiwanese to do the same.
How to Type Vietnamese Language: an introduction to different input systems for typing Vietnames on the computer.
- chunom -- a good introduction to Chu nom, including a selection
of Nom characters.
Vietnamese Nom Preservation
Foundation - a foundation set up to preserve the historic chu nom
To look up actual Chu nom characters, see the above site's lookup
A Vietnamese-language site about the Chu
Another Vietnamese language site about the Chu
Brief comments on Chu
nom in Japanese (with brief sample text)
Unicode won't work on the Internet - not only an indictment of Unicode,
but an entertaining look at the writing systems of China, Japan, and Korea.
will work on the Internet - a riposte to the above, technically no doubt
correct but not nearly as entertaining.