how important is it to know how to write chinese characters by hand?
By - Quality_Fun
Character input on phones is done by handwriting or pinyin these days. Speaking and reading is critical, writing less so especially if you can remember the pinyin you can select the character you want.
i see. this seems to be the case for many countries. i can’t say if this is a positive or negative thing. less and less emphasis on handwriting would mean it eventually falls out of use, and losing a major aspect of language...even if technology makes it more convenient, i still feel uncomfortable about it.
Well the characters won't ever go away, it's just the amount of people who need to remember how to draw them dwindles. It'll still be the language of print and stuff, but in an age where pen and paper are becoming more uncommon, it's not as necessary to learn the proper way to write thousands of Chinese characters. It's way more important to learn what they mean.
That's how language evolves.
Think of it this way: how many English speakers learn beautiful cursive nowadays?
Though this is based on my experience (non-Chinese, but exposed to traditional before learning how to write my parents' language, Korean), understanding stroke orders helps recognize characters slightly easier.
In my opinion, stroke order usually helps when you are trying to write out characters, because I find that if you mess up the stroke order, the keyboard or program you are using to input Chinese will usually give you the wrong character. However, I find that stroke order has less to do when helping recognize full characters because you don't see the order in the way that it was written.
maybe it's because you spend more time thinking about and focusing on that character.
That too. In my case, with the stroke orders.
Chinese don't write much with paper and pen nowadays.
However, writing is a fundamental part of any language, and you must learn it.
What happens when you encounter a Chinese character that you don't know? This will happen many, many, many times. The only solution is to draw/write that character in a translation app and search for its meaning.
So for a learner, reading anything physical in Chinese requires knowledge of writing. Otherwise you'll be fucked when you encounter the first characters you don't recognize, which will happen in approximately ten seconds.
> The only solution is to draw/write that character in a translation app and search for its meaning.
That's the thing, I can write it while staring at it in some context(if it's a new word then by definition you don't know how to write it from memory), and I can remember the meaning, how to recognize, and the pronunciation afterward, but I'm not going to remember how to write it.
Do you mean that you won't remember how to write that character from pure memory on a blank piece of paper?
Don't worry, that's a very common problem amongst all Chinese people.
Fortunately, there's a very popular solution. You pick up your smartphone. You search for the character on the phone. You find the character. You write it down.
>What happens when you encounter a Chinese character that you don't know? This will happen many, many, many times. The only solution is to draw/write that character in a translation app and search for its meaning.
do these character recognition apps take into account the order of strokes the user draws?
Some do to more or less extents. I would recommend the stroke order and basic stroke-types used, for the exact scenario where you encounter a word you don't know. (you wouldn't be able to pin-yin it)
Once you do it enough times, you'll get it I think? It's the same general rules for every character. If it helps you understand: I believe some of the stroke order was created with paying mind to your sleeves not-getting ink on them when doing calligraphy ;D
You can be a bit sloppy and cursive-ish with the writing, but stroke order essentially will get your sloppy/cursiveish writing to make sense from the app perspective. It'll become reflex, and it doesn't need to be 100% accurate (unless a word has many strokes then you may need to write all the strokes correctly)
I think writing does help with reading because we remember by associations and writing is just another form of association, but certainly it's not require that you can write every word in today's age.
I think learning a language is a endeavor that requires commitment, and commitment maybe requires interest (as well as maybe a learning schedule), so whatever makes you more interested is the better outcome. Whether focusing on strokes, or saving the stroke order for another time to look into.
i suppose that's incentive for users to learn how to write them properly.
>What happens when you encounter a Chinese character that you don't know?
You translate it.
Chinese culture places great importance on being able to write well and in the correct order. I think inability to write removes you from the aspect of the culture. As one moves up the social ladder; it’s also expected as a part of one’s refinement.
I guess if you’re coming in fresh; those aspects aren’t as important. But for memorization purposes; many things can be said about ability to memorize stroke order; it helps you remember the character and use a traditional dictionary.
I'm learning Chinese by myself too in my free time (I'm level HSK 4 now) and the advice I can give is to stop trying to learn the writting only with language apps. I tried most of them and it's not working.
The best way to learn the writting is the old way : a notebook and a good pen. I suggest you to try to get the HSK 1 books (course + workbook) first and see if that works for you.
Did you try Anki? You only need how to read it. Hence all that is required is memorizing it. But perhaps you find that tedious and boring. The most efficient way of learning is doing what you enjoy the most.
Writing is certainly less important than speaking and listening and typing, but I wouldn't let your writing fall too far behind. If you learn them all at once, it'll take longer, but then you know them all. If you skip writing, then you'll one day have to _go back_ and relearn every single character, learning how to write it.
At the very least learn how to write the most common characters. Then, if you need one day, you can learn to write the rest as you need them.
Edit: I mean, for some rare characters, even many native Chinese speakers forget how to write them. They would recognize them, but forget how to write them. I remember a while ago, there was a study where they asked Chinese people how to write the word "sneeze," and a lot of them didn't know.
>Writing is certainly less important than speaking and listening and typing, but I wouldn't let your writing fall too far behind. If you learn them all at once, it'll take longer, but then you know them all. If you skip writing, then you'll one day have to go back and relearn every single character, learning how to write it.
how would i even learn to write? the apps i've been trying out don't teach writing at all.
>I remember a while ago, there was a study where they asked Chinese people how to write the word "sneeze," and a lot of them didn't know.
coincidentally, i saw this mentioned earlier today on twitter. could this be an inherent disadvantage of a language not having an alphabet?
> could this be an inherent disadvantage of a language not having an alphabet?
Well you just substitute that problem with learning how to spell words. There's a lot of 'common' words that trip people up regularly
Necessary is the one for me
of course, but with an alphabet, even misspelled words can be understood and even pronounced. without an alphabet or other cues, well, i'm not sure how one would even begin to try writing the word for sneeze or necessary if they don't already know how.
and so on.
You can look up the HSK. It's a foreign Chinese literacy test structured into multiple levels. You should be able to find lists of the vocabulary words required for each level. Start with level 1 and learn all the vocabulary. Then move on to higher levels.
i have pleco, which i think offers the hsk. i passed level 1 easily, but that's just for reading.
Knowing how to write will help in the learning process. There are a few rules to stroke order. [Basic Rules of Writing Chinese Characters](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmMsdjbYtuY)
You can practice stroke order from these top components. [https://www.dong-chinese.com/dictionary/topComponents](https://www.dong-chinese.com/dictionary/topComponents)
Baidu has [Baike](https://baike.baidu.com) an encyclopedia that will read out the text. The voices do not sound robotic at all. You learn things and Mandarin at the same time.
I learned to handwrite characters using Pleco.
In my opinion it's more important to recognize characters. What you write on your computer and phone will mostly be Pinyin, even natives do so. You will still have to recognize characters to input the correct ones (say you are trying to write 'fact', 事实. You will find there are many other characters with the same Pinyin 'shishi').
You don't have to learn how to write, but if you focus on reading and recognizing characters I think you'll eventually learn how to write even without direct practice.
Even though I practiced writing, I think it was a bit of a waste of time, since I don't ever manually write things.
Note: of course, if you are learning formally, let's say for an exam or to attend University in Chinese, you should learn how to write
i have pleco, but i didn't know it can help teach handwriting.
There is the Flashcard function, and there is a paintbrush icon on the top right which turns your screen brighter.
I just write out the character and select the tick if I wrote it well, or cross if I didn't.
By the way, good luck on your study! It's hard but definitely rewarding!
Depends on your own personal goals. For me, I prioritized reading, speaking and listening and didn't put much effort into handwriting, so that's easily my weak point but my other sides are stronger.
If I need to write something I just look it up, especially since I know everything else about it except how to write it on command. Of course some of the more common characters I can write if needed.
It's obviously not ideal but for my own personal goals it suited me.
u should learn to write it anyway. u only know half the language if u dont learn to write it. and it might come in handy in some situation, or u might fall in love with chinese calligraphy after learning how to write.
it looks scary yea but thats the same for learning any other language thats not ur first language
i certainly *want* to know how to. it's just that i doubt i can. i'm not even sure where i would begin to learn; all the apps i've tried so far teach nothing about writing or the stroke order, only the characters themselves.
oh u are learning on ur own. then it is better to find a teacher. learning that on ur own is a bit complicated
> it's just that i doubt i can
I don't know Chinese but I promise you of all the things you're capable of learning given enough effort, writing Chinese is very low on that list lol
And you'd probably have to learn from actual teachers in classes, not those self learning apps. I haven't met anybody that's become fluent in any language primarily through self learning apps
I use Hanping App for translation and the paid Pro version teaches stroke order when you tap on the character, I think the free version also does but only for a small amount of characters.
I used these elementary textbooks for a while and it has a section that teaches stroke order. But it doesn't have much English translation (I can read most Chinese because I was born in HK, came to US when I was 8...I use it to work on mandarin pinyin).
[https://store.mandarinposter.com/chinese-practice-paper/](https://store.mandarinposter.com/chinese-practice-paper/) You can print out these paper that already has the grid on it for writing practice.
Yes knowing the stroke order really helps with writing, because you will start to see a pattern develop through different words. You will start seeing that the complicated words are just multiple simple characters put into one. Like the character for male 男 is just 田 (farm) on top of 力 (power/energy).
When would that ever come in handy?
I use pinyin to input Cantonese and I'd do the same for Mandarin. Some people use more scholarly/advanced ways of inputting Chinese but for me pinyin works best. As long as you recognize the numerals and know what they sound like you're off to a good start.
if you can use Pinyin (and select the correct character), you are more or less OK in daily life without knowing how to handwrite.
Signing your name is still critical in business, but that's not the same as knowing how to write.
Sometimes you still need to write Chinese when you sign a contract or fill in a form. therefore I would suggest you to learn some basic principles of handwriting, so that you can copy the characters from your cellphone when you need to write them down.
> you still need to write Chinese when you sign a contract
You can't use a name chop?