Chinese Characters - Hieroglyphics, Ideograms, and Semantic-phonetic Compound Characters

In the history of China, there are four methods of creation of Chinese characters, three of them are most frequently used. 

 

Hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphics, the earliest type that originated in the history of China, now still exists in modern Chinese characters. They are easy to recognize and understand, and can also be used as an easy start to learning some Chinese words. 

Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Hieroglyphic Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
 

Ideograms

Ideograms always consist of more than one part. These parts together can make new characters with obvious meanings.

Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
Ideograms Chinese Characters in Chinese Culture
 

Semantic-phonetic Compound Characters

The semantic-phonetic compound is the most widely used formation in Chinese culture.

 

Each semantic-phonetic compound character contains usually two parts: one represents the pronunciation and another explains the meaning. 

Some Common Meaning Expression Parts

Some common meaning of Semantic-phonetic compound Chinese characters in Chinese Culture
Some common meaning of Semantic-phonetic compound Chinese characters in Chinese Culture

Some Examples of Semantic-phonetic Compound Characters

雨 rain/weather related

 

雪 snow

霜 frost

露 dew

雷 thunder

雾 fog

霏 thin and floating clouds; rain or snow falls fast

霁 clear up after rain or snow

 

They all have 雨 part, which means moist weather-related phenomena.

 

But they have different pronunciations based on the other part.  So 雨 is the meaning part, while the other part presents pronunciations. 

Some common meaning of Semantic-phonetic compound Chinese characters in Chinese Culture

贝 shell, money related. Because the first exchange currency in the history of China was the shell. 

 

财 money, property

贡 tribute

贫 poor, poverty

贪 greedy, corrupt

货 product

购 buy

帐 account 

贵 expensive 

贷 loan

 

They all have 贝 part, which represents money-related activities. But, they have different pronunciations based on the other part. 

 

So 贝 is the meaning part, while the other part presents pronunciations. 

Some common meaning of Semantic-phonetic compound Chinese characters in Chinese Culture