| Written Chinese ： ウィキペディア英語版|
Written Chinese () comprises Chinese characters (汉字/漢字; pinyin: ''Hànzì'', literally "Han characters") used to represent the Chinese language. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Rather, the writing system is roughly logosyllabic; that is, a character generally represents one syllable of spoken Chinese and may be a word on its own or a part of a polysyllabic word. The characters themselves are often composed of parts that may represent physical objects, abstract notions, or pronunciation. Literacy requires the memorization of a great many characters: educated Chinese know about 4,000. The large number of Chinese characters has in part led to the adoption of Western alphabets as an auxiliary means of representing Chinese.
Various current Chinese characters have been traced back to the late Shang Dynasty about 1200–1050 BC,〔William G. Boltz, Early Chinese Writing, World Archaeology, Vol. 17, No. 3, Early Writing Systems. (Feb., 1986), pp. 420–436 (436).〕〔David N. Keightley, "Art, Ancestors, and the Origins of Writing in China", ''Representations'', No. 56, Special Issue: The New Erudition. (Autumn, 1996), pp.68–95 (68).〕〔(John DeFrancis: Visible Speech. The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems: Chinese )〕 but the process of creating characters is thought to have begun some centuries earlier. After a period of variation and evolution, Chinese characters were standardized under the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC). Over the millennia, these characters have evolved into well-developed styles of Chinese calligraphy. Chinese speakers in disparate dialect groups are able to communicate through writing because standard written Chinese is based on a standard spoken language ("Mandarin"). Although most other varieties of Chinese are not written, there is a well-developed tradition of written Cantonese.
Some Chinese characters have been adopted as part of the writing systems of other East Asian languages, such as Japanese, Korean, and (formerly) Vietnamese.〔
Written Chinese is not based on an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Instead, Chinese characters are glyphs whose components may depict objects or represent abstract notions. Occasionally a character consists of only one component; more commonly two or more components are combined to form more complex characters, using a variety of different principles. The best known exposition of Chinese character composition is the ''Shuowen Jiezi'', compiled by Xu Shen around 120 AD. Since Xu Shen did not have access to Chinese characters in their earliest forms, his analysis cannot always be taken as authoritative. Nonetheless, no later work has supplanted the ''Shuowen Jiezi'' in terms of breadth, and it is still relevant to etymological research today.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』
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