Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chinese Language in all its Forms - Imagery of Chinese Characters

Although there are dozens of dialects and subdialects in China, most of which are unintelligible to each other, Chinese writing has been simplified and standardized since the 1950s, and is the same used throughout China. There are approximately 10,000 characters, however in order to be considered literate (or in order to read a newspaper) you must know at least 3,000

One of the aspects of Chinese script that I find fascinating is the imagery and/or ideas behind some of the characters, and how certain characters were chosen to be added together to represent another word. For example, for the character "to rest", the character for person is combined with the character for tree. The imagery associated is a person leaning up against a tree to rest from hard work or a long journey. 

I put together three printables (the images are the links) with characters that have interesting imagery behind them, and encouraged the girls to draw the images corresponding with the character. The characters, as with spoken Chinese, usually have more than one meaning, which is understood within context.

The character for "Home" uses the characters for pig and roof -- in fact, a pig under a roof, because a house is a home when you have a pig to feed your family.

The character for "Morning" uses the characters for sun and armor, with the imagery of a sun rising over a soldier's helmet. 

Knowing the imagery behind the words gives a bit of insight into the culture, at least historically. The idea that every house needs a pig, or that the morning is in context with a soldier. When you think of "home" - what comes to mind? If you were to paint a picture of the "morning" - what would you paint?

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