The Chinese developed their script thousands of years ago - and in time, exported it to Japan by way of traveling monks. In Japan these characters are known as Kanji. The Japanese adapted their Kanji over the centuries until a major overhaul after the second world war, when the official number of Kanji was reduced to somewhere around 50,000. That's still a huge number of characters and most people never learn anywhere near that many characters - and for most needs, it's not really neccessary.
Even today, to read a Japanese newspaper, you'll need to know about 3,000 separate Kanji. True to the roots of the language, Traditional Chinese and Japanese Buddhist texts make use of some very unique and rarely used characters. Even those fluent in Chinese language will often have difficulty translating the texts.
See Our NEW Chinese Symbols Shop!
Chinese sharacters have also become popular for tattoos. If you're planning to get a Chinese writing tattoo, it's highly recommended you always get a second opinion before putting ink to skin. Better yet, get a professional Chinese translator to check your choice first to make sure it means what you think it means. It's not as easy as picking a nice-looking character from a wall. If you're considering a Japanese Kanji tattoo, we recommend Karma-Net.Com. They work with the translators from BBIworld.Com - who have done a lot of major work in that area. They are very reasonable too. It's much better to spend a few bucks beforehand than to fork over hundreds for tattoo removal.
Many people don't realize that there are two main Chinese dialects, Mandarin and Cantonese. They are quite different from each other, but both are tonal. This means that rather than the sound of the syllables themselves making the "word", the tone of the speech changes the meaning entirely. In fact, the same "word" can mean 16 entirely different things depending on the tone used in speaking it! There are some great resources online for Chinese Symbols and other related topics.
Learn more about Chinese Food, Cooking and Recipes
Didn't find what you were looking for?
Try Google Search