The Chinese script is a logographic script structured so that each character
represents a single concept; characters are then combined
to form compound words.
Note: The script does also have a phonetic component.
Although there are several distinct languages (or "dialects") spoken in China including Mandarin and Cantonese (Hong Kong), they can all read many of the same "written words" because it is based on meaning, not on sound.
See the links below for more information
There are several variants of the the Chinese script used in different contexts.
The table below shows how the name for Mandarin Chinese changes between scripts and even nationalities. Note though that the characters in the form from China are the same in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese.
See the Other Language/Dialects section for information on forms like Cantonese and Wu.
If you have your browser configured correctly, the Web sites above should display the correct characters. If you have difficulties, see list below for font and browser configuration instructions.
If these sites are not displaying correctly, see the Browser Setup page for set up information.
In Windows, Macintosh/iOS and Droid, input options for both Simplified and Traditional Chinese are available.
You can also activate different input options for each script. Typical options include
Yabla How to type Chinese using Pinyin gives detailed instructions for activating Chinese pinyin input on both Windows and Macintosh as well as iPhone and Droid.
You can also view generic documentation for
If you activate the Extended (ABC) Keyboard on the Macintosh, the following codes allow you to type different accent codes.
A more limited set of accent codes are if the Windows International keyboard is activated. The long mark (macron) is not available there.
utf-8) whenever possible
Language Tags allow browsers and other software to process Chinese text more efficiently. Below are the recommended codes for different scripts
zh(the most generic tag, but rarely used)
zh-Hansis preferred, but
zh-CNmay be found on older sites.
zh-Hant-TW(Taiwan) is preferred
zh-Latn-pinyinfor Mandarin. If the text is nort Mandarin,use one the dialect codes below.
See the Vertical Text page for information on vertical Chinese text
Different regions of China speak in varieties which are traditionally called "dialects", but they are so far apart that spealers from different regions may not understand each other. Linguists usually consider these dialects to be separate related languages and sometimes use the term "Sintic languages".
The standard form of modern spoken Chinese is called Mandarin Chinese, but other forms include Cantonese/Yue (Hong Kong), Wu (Shanghai) and Hakka.
For these varieties, there are currently two standards available, the IANA standard which adds "variety" tags to the base
zh tag or the SIL ISO-639-3 standard which treats dialects as separate languages.
Note: A -- indicates no IANA or ISO-639-3 code registered.
* Min includes Fuzhou, Hokkein, Amoy, Taiwanese
Most non-Mandarin Chinese documents are written in either Traditional Chinese, pinyin or some other Western phonetic form. To distinguish the forms, one can use a script tags like
wuu-Latn-pinyin (Wu Chinese in pinyin) or
wuu-Hant (Wu Chinese in Traditional Chinese)
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Last Modified: Thursday, 08-Sep-2016 12:52:06 EDT