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Chinese Characters

The Chinese languages are the languages of the Han people, the major ethnic group of China, and consist of a great many dialects. It is estimated that over 1 billion people speak a form of Chinese, being some 95% of the population. Other non-Chinese languages spoken include Tibetan, Mongolian, Lolo, Miao, and Tai. Chinese characters can be traced to a time when people making records in their daily life by tying knots in ropes or strings. The most acceptable legend of the inventor of Chinese writing was a minister named Ts'ang Chieh, who records the history in the court of Emperor Huang Ti, the first king of China. Originally, many Chinese characters were standardized drawings of ideas. Over time, the drawings were simplified until they only vaguely resemble the original drawings.
Mainland China uses a simplified form of writing but the traditional script is still in use in such places as Taiwan and Hong Kong. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a movement for reform began that wished to see literacy rates increase and saw the traditional script as a barrier to this goal. This movement grew in strength after the formation of the PRC. Spoken Chinese comprises many regional dialects. However, the mutual unintelligibility of the sub varieties is the main ground for classifying them as separate languages or dialect groups. There are some oral components to Chinese characters. Sometimes an additional component is added to change the meaning of a character while the base sound is changed little or not at all.

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