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Ten Chinese Characters That Look Like Their Meanings

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The Chinese written language is a miracle of human achievement. Constituting the oldest continuously used system of writing in the world, its development stretches back at least three thousand years to the oracle bones of the Shang dynasty and probably more. During this time, tens of thousands of different characters have come into being and evolved into the language we use today.

Many of the earliest characters were pictograms, representing more or less directly the objects to which they referred. Yet only around 4% of existing characters can be considered as such. Those that can have changed so much over the years that the original pictogram is often barely recognisable from the presently used character. But that just adds to the fun.

Indeed, it’s thanks to its use of pictograms – and in a similar way ideograms that the Chinese language can be seen as a treasure trove of hidden meaning and cool resemblances just waiting to be uncovered. While most characters the budding Chinese learner will come across are not instantly recognisable as the meaning they intend, there are those rarer moments of discovery in which the two things come together perfectly as one.

The following quiz contains just some of those moments I’ve encountered during my own Chinese learning odyssey. It’s not meant as a test. It’s simply here to demonstrate how cool Chinese characters are. Having said that, if there’s anyone getting anything less than 10/10, they need to go away and have a long hard think about your life.

Share Share Share: If you think Chinese characters are as cool as I do, feel free to share the quiz on Twitter, Facebook or wherever, and get your friends involved.

Match the Chinese characters with their meanings

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Match the Chinese character with its meaning I got %%score%% of %%total%% characters correct

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