How did the ancients learn Chinese characters with pinyin?

Thursday, January 12, 2023

When we learned Chinese characters as children, we first learned the Chinese Pinyin of "a, O and E". After learning Pinyin, we began to learn to recognize Chinese characters. When we learn pinyin, even if we encounter words we don't know, we can learn by looking up the dictionary without the help of teachers.

ancient times learn Chinese

In ancient times, the Chinese people did not have the current Chinese pinyin. When they learned to recognize Chinese characters, they could only read and learn after the teacher. But there are thousands of Chinese characters, and what teachers can teach is also very limited. When you see unknown characters and no one teaches them, you will be blind immediately. In order to overcome this disadvantage, so that people can recognize Chinese characters they don't know when they study alone, they began to form the earliest phonetic method - straight sound.

The earliest Chinese Dictionary

The earliest Chinese Dictionary

Straight sound is to use homophonic words to phoneticize. For example, "Gu" notes "Gu" and "Xu" notes "Xu". How to read a homonym, how to read this word. It should be noted that the straight tone here is different from the "common and false words" we encounter when learning ancient Chinese. The key of common and false words lies in "false", that is, the Chinese characters used in the original text are wrong words. Future generations will not correct them out of respect for the author, but make remarks on the correct words.

Although orthographic characters are convenient to use, what if people don't know the characters used for phonetic notation? For example, if a person who has just learned Chinese characters does not know "Xu" or "Xu", then the direct sound will have no effect on his learning Chinese characters.

When people found the deficiency of straight tone, a method closer to Pinyin appeared, that is reverse tangent.

The basic rule of reverse cutting is to spell two Chinese characters to phoneticize a word, cut the word to take the initial consonant, and cut the word to take the vowel and tone. For example, "Gong": ancient song cut, take the initial "g" of "Gu", take the vowel and tone "Ling ng" of "song", and then get the pronunciation "g Ling" of "Gong".

the-basic-rule-of-reverse-cutting

Does it feel like learning Pinyin in primary and secondary schools? Since the Han Dynasty, through the supplement and improvement of all dynasties, the reverse tangent method has become the most popular phonetic method in ancient China, and formed a set of systematic learning and use methods. Take the previous "Gong" as an example. Although the pronunciation of "song", "CHANT" and "send" are exactly the same, in the reverse cutting method, "Gong" is only an ancient send cut, and each initial and vowel has its corresponding word. Therefore, as long as we learn the words corresponding to each initial and vowel, we can use inverse tangent to learn other strange words.

In order to learn Chinese characters more conveniently, the ancients also made an inverse tangent chart similar to Xinhua dictionary by using the inverse tangent method. For example, the "cut rhyme finger palm map" of the Song Dynasty divides Chinese characters into 36 vowels, 206 rhymes and 4 tones, and forms 12 pictures according to certain rules. If you encounter words that you can't read, you can directly look up the table.

Cut rhyme palm painting

"Cut rhyme palm painting"

Sign up for a free trial now!

FAQ / Tips

We offer secure and convenient payment options, including PayPal. PayPal is a widely recognized and trusted online payment platform that provides a secure way to make transactions. We also follow industry-standard security protocols to ensure the safety of your personal and financial information.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can send an email to: service @chineselearning.com.We have a team of professionals who will be happy to assist you with any issues as soon as possible.
No, the tuition fees you have paid cover all costs.There are no additional fees or hidden charges. We strive to be transparent and upfront with our pricing, ensuring that our clients receive the best value for their investment.
Our teaching methodology is centered around our students and their individual learning objectives.We provide personalized learning plans, innovative and flexible teaching materials and methods, and strive to make learning Chinese a joyful and enjoyable experience.Our approach is designed to engage students and foster a deep understanding of the Chinese language, culture, and customs. We believe that learning should be fun and meaningful, and we work hard to ensure that every student enjoys their Chinese language learning journey with us.
Our instructors are highly skilled and experienced experts in Chinese language teaching, with proficiency in multiple languages. They hold at least a bachelor's degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, and possess extensive teaching experience and knowledge. Through a rigorous selection process and ongoing training, our instructors are equipped to provide students with authentic pronunciation, accurate language usage, and cultural background knowledge, all of which are essential for achieving mastery of the Chinese language.
We offer highly flexible class schedules that cater to your needs, with lessons available from 7am to 10pm Beijing time, seven days a week.This allows you to conveniently take lessons at any time and from any location that suits your schedule.