Unlike many other forms of writing, Chinese writing is done through the use if pictography, with specialized characters to represent concepts and phrases. These individual characters are known as hànzi (漢字).
Originally, Chinese characters were shown as depictions of the things that they came to be representative of – for instance, the pictograph for a dog would have a crude outlining of a canine, and this outline would make up the basis for the character meaning dog. Through many centuries where Chinese writing became prevalent, the characters became altered and shaped with symbolism that does not resemble the things they stand for at all.
There are two types of Chinese writing: wényán, which has come to be known as classical style, or báihuà, which is adapted from the Mandarin style of speech. Classical writing continued throughout the country until the beginning of the 20th century, and served as the main form of communication for the people at the time. It was established sometime between 25-220 A.D. by the Han Dynasty. Actually, all three of Vietnam, Korea and Japan used this style of speech and writing up until they branched up to form their own native tongues and modes of communication. When a person wishes to learn Chinese, they must decide which version is to be taught to them.
There is a difference between Mandarin-style adaptive Chinese language from speech and the classical variant. In the classical sense, each word was very simple and monosyllabic, often with only one character needed as a visual representation of what the word meant. This changed sometime in the early 1920s, where the style of speech from the Mandarin language was adapted into a written style, and the entire language became more complex as a result. While it is true that the wényán style is used today, it is no longer the primary form of writing there. For an example on these differences, check out a good Chinese dictionary.
Chinese Writing: Characters and Alphabet
An interesting thing to note about the Chinese alphabet is that each of the letters are written in reverse methods that the English alphabet uses. For example, all of the lowercase letters would be rendered like capital letters, and all of the capital letters would be rendered like lowercase letters. Each of the Chinese alphabet are based on a logo-gram-type script to form a representation of each character – hence, it is not a true alphabetic linguistic.
诶 (A) 比 (B) 西 (C) 迪 (D) 伊 (E) 艾弗 (F) 吉 (G) 艾尺 (H) 艾 (I) 杰 (J) 开 (K) 艾勒 (L) 艾马 (M) 艾娜 (N) 哦 (O) 屁 (P) 吉吾 (Q) 艾儿 (R) 艾丝 (S) 提 (T) 伊吾 (U) 维 (V) 豆贝尔维 (W) 艾克斯 (X) 吾艾 (Y) 贼德 (Z)
Information on Chinese Writing Tattoos
Chinese writing tattoos are a common practice in the States and in Europe for their slick appearances and easy implementation into the skin. They are based on typographical characters of the language, and are usually in reverence to something, or the meanings behind them hold significance to a person getting the tattoo. It is important that the word or phrasing chosen be accurately transcribed from English to Chinese, so getting a consult with a professional Chinese translation is recommended. This is so that a person doesn’t commit something to permanent body art without knowing exactly what the definition of the Chinese characters are intended to represent.