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Characters for the world

Updated: 2024-05-11 11:21 ( China Daily )
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Students of the Xi'an International Studies University get a taste of calligraphy with members of the Xi'an Calligrapher's Association to mark United Nations Chinese Language Day in the provincial capital of Shaanxi on April 23.[Photo by Shang Hongtao/For China Daily]

Luminary author Lu Xun (1881-1936) once wrote that the beauty of Chinese characters is present in three aspects: their meaning enlightens the mind, their sound touches the ear, and their appearance appeals to the eye.

From inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze ware dating back more than 3,000 years, Chinese characters originated as a pictographic writing system, borrowing the shape of the sun, the moon, birds and beasts, among others.

To improve aesthetics and efficiency of use, multiple scripts were developed over the passage of time, such as zhuanshu (seal script), lishu (clerical script), caoshu (cursive script) and kaishu (regular script). Their beauty is especially visible in calligraphy to this day.

Many characters not only bear meanings and cultural connotations inherited for millennia but also indicate their pronunciation. As a whole, characters are a symbol of Chinese civilization, bridging the past, present and future.

According to the Ministry of Education's Center for Language Education and Cooperation, more than 30 million people around the globe are learning Chinese.

The language is taught in more than 190 countries and regions, among which 85 have incorporated Chinese lessons into their national education systems.

With a growing number of people toggling between their mother tongue and Chinese, the genes of Chinese culture embedded in the latter are likely to be better and more widely recognized.

Around the 15th United Nations Chinese Language Day, which fell on April 20, foreign Chinese speakers and overseas Chinese teachers shared their passion, understanding and benefits of this language in their daily life.

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