Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and some other Asian languages. In Standard Chinese they are called Hanzi (). They have been adapted to write a number of other languages including: Japanese, where they are known as ''kanji'', Korean, where they are known as ''hanja'', and Vietnamese in a system known as ''chữ Nôm''. Collectively, they are known as CJKV characters. In English, they are sometimes called Han characters.〔Shieh (2011). ("The Unified Phonetic Transcription for Teaching and Learning Chinese Languages" ) ''Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology'', 10: 355-369.〕 Chinese characters constitute the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=History of Chinese Writing Shown in the Museums )〕 By virtue of their widespread current use in East Asia, and historic use throughout the Sinosphere, Chinese characters are among the most widely adopted writing systems in the world.
Chinese characters number in the tens of thousands, though most of them are minor graphic variants encountered only in historical texts. Studies in China have shown that functional literacy in written Chinese requires a knowledge of between three and four thousand characters. In Japan, 2,136 are taught through secondary school (the ''Jōyō kanji''); hundreds more are in everyday use. There are various national standard lists of characters, forms, and pronunciations. Simplified forms of certain characters are used in China, Singapore, and Malaysia; the corresponding traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and to a limited extent in South Korea. In Japan, common characters are written in Japan-specific simplified forms (''shinjitai''), which are closer to traditional forms than Chinese simplifications, while uncommon characters are written in Japanese traditional forms (''kyūjitai''), which are virtually identical to Chinese traditional forms. In South Korea, when Chinese characters are used they are of the traditional variant and are almost identical to those used in places like Taiwan and Hong Kong. Teaching of Chinese characters in South Korea starts in the 7th grade and continues until the 12th grade where 1,800 total characters are taught albeit these characters are not really used in everyday life and are slowly declining in use.
In Old Chinese, most words were monosyllabic and there was a close correspondence between characters and words. In modern Chinese, characters do not necessarily correspond to words; indeed the majority of Chinese words today consist of two or more characters. Rather, a character almost always corresponds to a single syllable that is also a morpheme.〔(East Asian Languages at pinyin.info )〕
However, there are a few exceptions to this general correspondence, including bisyllabic morphemes (written with two characters), bimorphemic syllables (written with two characters) and cases where a single character represents a polysyllabic word or phrase.〔
Modern Chinese has many homophones; thus the same spoken syllable may be represented by many characters, depending on meaning. A single character may also have a range of meanings, or sometimes quite distinct meanings; occasionally these correspond to different pronunciations. Cognates in the several varieties of Chinese are generally written with the same character. They typically have similar meanings, but often quite different pronunciations. In other languages, most significantly today in Japanese, characters are used to represent Chinese loanwords, to represent native words independent of the Chinese pronunciation, and as purely phonetic elements based on their pronunciation in the historical variety of Chinese from which they were acquired. These foreign adaptations of Chinese pronunciation are known as Sinoxenic pronunciations, and have been useful in the reconstruction of Middle Chinese.
==Principles of formation==
(詳細はpictograms, which depicted the objects denoted, or simple ideograms, in which meaning was expressed iconically. Some other words were expressed by compound ideograms, but the vast majority were written using the rebus principle, in which a character for a similarly sounding word was either simply borrowed or (more commonly) extended with a disambiguating semantic marker to form a phono-semantic compound character.
These five methods, together with an obscure category of "transformed cognates", were first enumerated as the ' ( / ) ("six writings") by the scholar Xu Shen in his dictionary ''Shuowen Jiezi'' in 100 AD.
While this analysis is sometimes problematic and arguably fails to reflect the complete nature of the Chinese writing system, it has been perpetuated by its long history and pervasive use.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』