I received a text message from a Chinese colleague on 21 January this year.
First, he complimented me on the family photograph I have as my WeChat profile. He then went on to write:
“You know in Chinese, we say “Hao” [which] means “Good”,
[and] “Ni Hao” means “How are you?”.
Do you know how the Chinese character “Hao” is?
It is: 好
It is formed by 女representing “girl”, and 子 representing “son”,
It means if you have a girl and a son, then you are the best.
So you are the happiest guy in the world because you have a daughter and a son.
They together is: “好”.
This is perhaps one of the nicest and most complimentary things anyone has ever said or written to me.
After thanking him for his kind message, he went on to write:
“Yes, Chinese characters are amazing. It is quite different from English. They are different types of forms. Chinese character is formed by image, and English words are formed by [only] 26 elements. This is why in China, handwriting is an art, because the writing could be looking like an image or a picture.
For example, the mountain in Chinese is “山”. It really does look like a mountain.
And, also water in Chinese is “水”.
In ancient Chinese type it looked like this:
“Does it really look like water?”, he asked.
“Yes, I think it does” I replied. A waterfall, flowing water, ripples, or water from above perhaps.
I might have mastered the mountain character, but many more are required to master this language. According to Wikipedia: “Functional literacy in written Chinese requires a knowledge of between three and four thousand characters.”
It is indeed a mountain to climb! 🙂