Should we all write in Chinese? | BBC Ideas

It is actually not a myth to say that writing unified the Chinese cultures. There are many many
small groups of dialects in China, but we all use this one written system which are
the characters. That makes things easier for people speaking different languages. How do they understand each other? by written language -which is great! So how does Chinese work? A mountain may look just like a mountain with a peak in the middle. And fire resembles some blazing
logs. Put them together and you get volcano. I know this bit is dog… So, like, my dogs are really cute, I guess? Universal language schemes were
particularly popular in the 17th century. People would have assumed that the
origin of language theologically was in the Garden of Eden so the whole world
would have spoken one language but then with the Tower of Babel languages
were broken into a multitude of languages. Francis Bacon assumed that a language like Chinese and its writing system would have qualified because of this special relationship between the sign and what it symbolised. Tons… How many are there Hongping? Oh I’m sorry, I don’t know. I don’t know. Obviously, it’s too many. 2,000? 8,000? 9,000? … A million? Not quite, but it is is very hard to say. That dictionary has
around sixty four thousand characters. If you know five thousand characters you’re doing very well. No! Oh my God! What do you think it means? Oh right. It’s “biang”! This one word means that noodle?! Yep, in fact… The trouble is not just inventing one but getting people to use it. Language needs a cultural context. You cannot really just borrow or create. Every year we lose hundreds of languages from this planet and I would fear that a universal language might lead to cultural impoverishment. I use very simple “like” and “dislike” and then I design my own sometimes. They have to guess!

About the author


  1. They say that there are a lot of Chinese characters, but how many of them see daily use? Japanese manages to get by with just over two thousand regular use characters, and even then it's not like each character is its own thing in total isolation from every other character. You just have to look at the character for tree (木) in relation to the characters for woods and forest (林 and 森) to see how some characters are just combinations of other characters. It's also not like everyone really needs to remember how to write an extreme 57 stroke character…

    I enjoyed this piece but I think it goes a little out of its way to make Chinese characters seem more difficult to use than they actually are, and I think that promoting that mindset and lack of understanding isn't all that conducive to people gaining any proficiency with them.

    Really, I don't know that we need to adopt the entire Chinese writing system, but I don't see how it would hurt to adopt some of the characters the same as how we've adopted emoji.

  2. Oh u shud go to Malaysia to tell them this idea… some folks there will bare pitch folks n torches n ull see a very different side all together.

  3. Meanwhile, I hope Chinese can adopt English aside with its characters to form a new language based on this combination. It’s just like how Japanese adopted Chinese characters, it would eventually enrich the expressive ways of Chinese language.

  4. Chinese is too complicated. They have so many tiny details! Korean is a lot more better not much of tiny details.

  5. Why should we make everyone learn like one of the hardest languages to learn? Why not make it an easier language like English or Spanish

  6. Why so many dislikes video was pretty balanced, showed the positives and the negatives of the hypothetical adoption of the Chinese writing system globally.
    Edit: realize it's probably the title of the video.

  7. No, for many reasons. Like how if we did , like Chinese student's we would leave school only knowing a few 100 character's

  8. Our writing system is simply the best, some idiots think that it's more important to have a 'beautiful' languange than one that makes sence

  9. Yeah, if Chinese was an UL, I'll have to learn >10000 of them. Japanese? >2000 kanjis. Vietnamese? Like learning Latinized Chinese (with a little bit of Vietnamese stereotype).

    P.S.: I'm Vietnamese.

  10. British people should do something against BBC , your forefathers traveled all the way to Southern hemisphere to spread their culture or at least language and now they give idea to shift to Chinese in homeland.🤦‍♂️☠️☠️

  11. It would be easier if we all used one language but Chinese is not the logical choice as it is one of the most difficult to learn. English or Spanish would be the best option, not that difficult learn and already the 2 most diversely spoken languages. Chinese is the most spoken but almost exclusively in China, not worldwide

  12. Writing in Chinese would be equivelent of going back to the horse and buggy which the whole of China has only just came out of as a country . They had the intelligence to introduce the Hindu numerical system and God only knows how cumberson the original Chinese system was , but for racial and cultural reasons they will not let go of that horrific writing system . I was watching a You Tube video and a American was asking Chinese people on the street to write the symbol for thumb and nobody knew along with other simple tasks , incredible.

  13. And even Emojis are not universal. The Asians use different emojis. Like ^_^. And ^0^ ^_'^.

    And the Chinese minorities only communicate in Mandarin Chinese because they are forced to learn it. They still speak their local language or dialect, oftrn unable to translate that into mandarin characters. But even though they may oftentimes write the same characters their cultural use is different and therefore differs in syntax, for example. Not to mention the whole way of thinking and therefore impact in the grammar and syntax that comes from cultural differences. The whole thing is way more complicated than shown in this report. Clearly whoever put that together has very limited knowledge of Chinese language and/or culture.

  14. This is a horrible idea when English is already technically a universal language already

  15. It's a foolish idea. To teach Chinese would mean having a brutal education system like China. Most Chinese can only use their language at a basic level.

  16. Technically nobody can read chinese. They just recognise pictures that correspond to words. eg the word for "good" is the character for "man" next to the one for "woman" and is read as "good" not "man woman" Rhyming words look nothing alike and a giraffe is a long neck deer

  17. Chinese is an artistic and poetic language, English is a highly detailed language which is probably the easiest to learn, I like the qualities of both languages🎉👍

  18. You have people who know nothing about Chinese language talking shit about the writing system in the comment section. Just how arrogant can people be to think that written Chinese is outdated and backward? Written Chinese has the highest information density and people can read the fastest. The language is very concise. Just because you know nothing about it doesn’t mean it’s bad, and talking shit about something you don’t know makes yourself a fool.

  19. As a learner of Japanese I would say "Don't adopt the whole Chinese writing system, especially in languages which don't use the SVO word order, or languages which words morph, or languages which use many particles."

    The Japanese actually did some kind of that a thousand year ago, when they didn't have the Kana. When a text from China came they had to rearrange the order of characters to read it in Japanese, and they had to add grammatical particle themselves. Like 花無心招蝶 it will be 花 無心にして蝶を招き . There even be a study of the converting method called 漢文訓読.

    I prefer using mixed script like Japanese one but I don't know whether the 2000 characters of 常用漢字 is enough or too much.

  20. Chinese characters often DO denote sounds. Phonosemantic compounds are maybe the most prevalent type of Chinese Characters.
    Also, the Japanese language easily shows how difficult it can prove to apply the Chinese writing system to a completely foreign language. Chu Nom is another example.

  21. Writing in Chinese characters, phonetic in English, this is the most perfect way of language I think of, if you know the language. But forget it, why take care of other people's affairs?

  22. The lack of a real alphabet In Chinese makes it impractical as a language currently. English should remain as the worlds language of practicality.

  23. The cost of having a universal language would be cultural impoverishment. I do believe that it is is in our best interests to be multilingual polyglots. It really doesn't take much to learn a language like Chinese. You don't necessarily need to aim for complete mastery. I do however, feel disappointed when I'm on a train and British folk look at Chinese like they're aliens from another planet just because they're speaking in Chinese. Even though Chinese behaviour can be annoying by other country's standards, I do feel we British utterly fail to do our part to understand them along with people from other nations. Why should non English speakers do all the heavy lifting whilst we remain monolingual? There's resources abound for learning languages.

  24. Why does bbc reupload this propaganda? English isn't perfect, but Chinese even worse. Chinese isn't the solution the world needs.

  25. 校长说:校服上除了校徽别别别的,让你们别别别的别别别的你非得别别的!
    anyone know this?

  26. Chinese nope it's wayyy to hard to write than English I am guessing the next language they are going to suggest is sanskrit lol I have been studying it for past 5 years and I still cant manage to pass any exam

  27. Let's talk about how irrational everyone in the comments is being right now. They just explored the idea of a universal writing script and gave some facts about Chinese characters and settled on the opinion that it would not be the best idea. Is that deserving of 50% dislikes and comments full of needless hate?

  28. Do you Chinese learners know these characters?


  29. Oxford again? Does the BBC know that there are, in actual fact, other universities in the UK which offer equally reliable and in some cases more relevant information? Unbiased broadcaster indeed.

  30. Why should every country have the same writing system, let alone language? Everyone has their own tongue and forcing it down other people's throats ain't gonna help

    Also not to get biblical but that's how Babylon was destroyed

  31. Seems like people are biased because English is the language they ever known. If you don't understand chinese then probably don't act like you already know it

  32. This video is definitely NOT bullshit. It attracts and exposes freaks occasionally in the comments. No differs will be accepted.

  33. We're already heading that way…. with English.

    Business, science, technology, culture, romance…. all use English as the de facto language.

    Which is good.

  34. Could do what the Japanese did, have both and mix them – kanji for important 'Latin' like scientific words or common objects and then an alphabet system to soak it other words.

  35. One fact is they lack language skills to tell what they’re doing, thinking and know about anything.

  36. I haven't been indoctrinated! Hating your country and wanting to replace your own people because you hate them is perfectly acceptable behavior!

  37. Do you think we should invade China force them convert to Christianity execute them if they don't force them to read and write in English.

  38. I bet you all this was funded by that Chinese Confuses program. Hey Comrade do you know why we are superior! Because I can do this Fuck Trump he can die Im going tp start a revolution and over throw the government! ( im a Trump supporter by the way this is for instructional purposes) Your turn comrade, lets see you do it! And that's why you will always be inferior having to steal other peoples ideas because your incapable of producing your own!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *