Second round of simplified Chinese characters
The second round of Chinese character simplification, according to the official document, Second Chinese Character Simplification Scheme to introduce a second round of simplified Chinese characters, was an aborted orthography reform promulgated on 20 December 1977 by the People's Republic of China. It was intended to replace the existing simplified Chinese characters that were in use; the complete proposal contained a list of 248 characters that were to be simplified, as well as another list of 605 characters for evaluation and discussion. Of these, 21 from the first list and 40 from the second served as components of other characters, amplifying the impact on written Chinese. Following widespread confusion and opposition, the second round of simplification was rescinded on 24 June 1986 by the State Council. Since the PRC has used the first-round simplified characters as its official script. Rather than ruling out further simplification, the retraction declared that further reform of the Chinese characters should be done with caution.
Today, some second-round simplified characters, while considered nonstandard, continue to survive in informal usage. The issue of whether and how simplification should proceed remains a matter of debate; the traditional relationship between written Chinese and vernacular Chinese has been compared to that of Latin with the Romance languages in the Renaissance era. The modern simplification movement grew out of efforts to make the written language more accessible, which culminated in the replacement of Classical Chinese with Vernacular Chinese in the early 20th century; the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and subsequent loss of prestige associated with classical writing helped facilitate this shift, but a series of further reforms aided by the efforts of reformers such as Qian Xuantong were thwarted by conservative elements in the new government and the intellectual class. Continuing the work of previous reformers, in 1956 the People's Republic of China promulgated the Scheme of Simplified Chinese Characters referred to as the "First Round" or "First Scheme."
The plan was adjusted in the following years stabilizing in 1964 with a definitive list of character simplifications. These are the simplified Chinese characters that are used today in Mainland Singapore. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau did not adopt the simplifications, the characters used in those places are known as traditional Chinese characters. Released in 1964 was a directive for further simplification in order to improve literacy, with the goal of reducing the number of strokes in used characters to ten or fewer; this was to take place with consideration for both "ease of production and ease of recognition." In 1975, a second round of simplifications, the Second Scheme, was submitted by the Script Reform Committee of China to the State Council for approval. Like the First Scheme, it contained two lists, one for immediate use and another for evaluation and discussion. Of these, 21 from the first list and 40 from the second served as components of other characters, which caused the Second Scheme to modify some 4,500 characters.
On 20 December 1977, major newspapers such as the People's Daily and the Guangming Daily published the second-round simplifications along with editorials and articles endorsing the changes. Both newspapers began to use the characters from the first list on the following day; the Second Scheme was received poorly, as early as mid-1978, the Ministry of Education and the Central Propaganda Department were asking publishers of textbooks and other works to stop using the second-round simplifications. Second-round simplifications were taught inconsistently in the education system, people used characters at various stages of official or unofficial simplification. Confusion and disagreement ensued; the Second Scheme was retracted by the State Council on 24 June 1986. The State Council's retraction emphasized that Chinese character reform should henceforth proceed with caution, that the forms of Chinese characters should be kept stable; that year, a final version of the 1964 list was published with minor changes, no further changes have been made since.
The second round of simplification continued to use the methods used in the first round. For example: In some characters, the phonetic component of the character was replaced with a simpler one, while the radical was unchanged. For example: 菜 → 蔡 → 酒 → 氿 稳 → 禾 + 文 儒 → 亻+ 入 灌 → 浂 冀 → 丠 廖 → 广 + 了 僚 → In some characters, entire components were replaced by ones that are similar in shape: 幕 → 大 + 巾 整 → 大 + 正 迎 → 迊 答 → 荅 撤 → 阎 → 闫In some characters, components that are complicated are replaced with a simpler one not similar in shape but sometimes similar in sound: 鞋 → 又 + 圭 短 → 矢 + 卜 道 → 辺 嚷 → In some characters, the radical is dropped, leaving only the phonetic; this results in mergers between distinct characters: 稀 → 希 彩 → 采 帮 → 邦 蝌蚪 → 科斗 蚯蚓 → 丘引 豫 → 予In some characters, entire components are dropped: 糖 → 米 + 广 停 → 仃 餐 → 歺 雪 → 彐 宣 → 㝉Some characters are replaced by a similar-sounding one. This results in mergers between distinct characters: 萧 → 肖 蛋 → 旦 泰 → 太 雄 → 厷 鳜 → 桂 籍 → 笈 芭/粑/笆 → 巴 蝴/糊/猢 → 胡 The Second Scheme broke with a millennia-long cycle of variant forms coming into unofficial use and being accepted in that it introduced new, unfamiliar character forms.
Debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters
The debate on traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters is an ongoing dispute concerning Chinese orthography among users of Chinese characters. It has stirred up heated responses from supporters of both sides in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and among overseas Chinese communities with its implications of political ideology and cultural identity. Simplified characters here refer to those characters simplified by the People's Republic of China, instead of the concept of character simplification as a whole; the effect of simplified characters on the language remains controversial for decades after their introduction. The sheer difficulties posed by having two concurrent writing systems hinders communications between mainland China and other regions, although with exposure and experience a person educated in one system can become familiar with the other system. For those who know both systems well, converting an entire document written using simplified characters to traditional characters, or vice versa, is a trivial but laborious task.
Automated conversion, from simplified to traditional is not straightforward because there is not always a one-to-one mapping of a simplified character to a traditional character. One simplified character may equate to many traditional characters; as a result, a computer can be used for the bulk of the conversion but will still need final checking by a human. The writer Ba Jin, in his essay "Thoughts: Reform of Chinese characters", urged caution in any reforms to the written Chinese language, he cited the inability of those educated in Hong Kong or Taiwan to read material published on the mainland, vice versa, as a great disadvantage of simplified Chinese. He cited the ability to communicate, not just with Chinese peoples of various regions, but with people from across the Chinese cultural sphere — countries such as Japan and Vietnam — as a great advantage of the written Chinese language that should not be undermined by excessive simplification. Proponents say that the Chinese writing system has been changing for millennia: it passed through the Oracle Script, Bronzeware Script, Seal Script and Clerical Script stages.
Moreover, the majority of simplified characters are drawn from conventional abbreviated forms that have been used in handwriting for centuries such as the use of 礼 instead of 禮, some simplified characters are in fact restorations of ancient forms that had become more complicated over time. For instance, the character for "cloud" was 云, but the character was borrowed to write a homophonous word meaning "to say". To disambiguate the two uses of the character, the "rain" radical was added on top when it meant "cloud", forming the current traditional character 雲; the homophonous word meaning "to say", has become archaic in modern Chinese, though 雲 continues to be used for "cloud". The simplified version restores 云 to its original use as "cloud". While some simplified characters were adopted from conventional abbreviated forms that have existed for a long time, those advocating the simplified forms fail to point out that many such characters in fact had multiple vernacular forms out of which just one was chosen and privileged by the designers of the simplified character scheme.
Many of the changes can be seen as ideological, such as the removal of the "heart" from the word "love" into the new character without heart. To some, the new'heartless' love character is an attack on Confucianism, which emphasizes the virtues of filial piety and humanity in relationships so as to maintain a harmonious society. On the other hand, supporters of simplification claim that the use of the character 愛 to represent the meaning of "love" is a rather new invention and was not recorded in the Shuowen Jiezi, implying a Han dynasty or date for the creation of the modern traditional form. According to Duan Yucai's authoritative commentary of the Shuowen Jiezi, which compiled philological information on Chinese characters and traced their origins, the character first used to write the word was 㤅, supplanted by 愛. Supporters of simplification argue that the removal of the heart radical occurred in the context of calligraphy in ancient times and was not viewed in an anti-Confucian light. A variant form without the heart radical appears in the Kangxi Dictionary under the head character 愛.
Moreover, the simplified form 爱 is well-attested in the semi-cursive script calligraphy from imperial times, appearing in the work of Sui dynasty calligrapher Zhi Guo and Emperor Taizong of Tang and has appeared in calligraphic works from the Song and Ming dynasties. Pro-traditional commentators argue that the changes through the history are exclusively alterations in writing styles vernacular writing, not in the fundamental structure of the characters—especially after the Qin standardization, they have alleged that simplified characters were arbitrarily schematized and imposed by the PRC on its people with the intention of subverting and eradicating selected elements of traditional Chinese culture, in order to carry out what the PRC viewed as necessary revolutionary modernization. These critics point out that many of the fundamental characteristics underlying Chinese characters, including radicals as well as etymological and phonetic elements, were deliberately omitted in their simplified form at least for this reason.
One frequently-cited example is the character for "sage" or "holy", 圣 in simplified and 聖 in traditional
Bird-worm seal script
Bird-worm seal script is a type of ancient seal script originating in China. The Chinese character 鸟 means "bird"; the Chinese character 虫 means any creature that looks like a "worm", including invertebrate worms and reptiles such as snakes and lizards. The character 篆 means "seal". Other names for this kind of seal script: Niao-Chong Script; the Chinese character 书 here means "script". Niao-Chong Characters; the Chinese character 文 here means "character". There are two subcategories: Bird seal script In this style, some parts of characters have a bird-like head and tail added; the bird style sign is a combination of two parts: a complete seal script character and one bird shape. Worm seal script In this style, some or all the strokes are winding, thus producing a worm-like character, but there is no additional bird shape. Seal script evolved from Oracle Bone Script, diverged into different forms in the Spring and Autumn period, after the power of the Zhou dynasty waned and China began to divide into different states.
This kind of seal script first appeared in the middle era of the Autumn period. It became popular during the late Spring and Autumn period, was most popular during the Warring States period, it was seen in southern kingdoms, such as the Wu Kingdom, Yue Kingdom, Chu Kingdom, Cai Kingdom, Xu Kingdom, the Song Kingdom. Each state in China during the Warring States Period had its own variety of script; these kinds of seal script declined after the Qin Dynasty, most due to the unification of writing scripts by Qin Shi Huang, after his unification of China, although they were used during the Han Dynasty. The bird seal script is seen on bronze and iron antiques of the Yue Kingdom; the script was used on bronze and iron weapons, like swords, to indicate ownership or date of completion. The characters engraved on the famous Sword of Goujian provide a fine example. A few examples of the bird seal script can be seen on containers and jades of that period; the bird seal script was used in the Han Dynasty seals, as well as a few eaves tiles and bricks.
The worm seal script is more common in, originated from the Wu Kingdom or Chu Kingdom. Examples can be seen on antique bronze weapons, containers and seals, constructional or decorative parts like tiles, etc; the characters on the famous Spear of Fuchai would be a good example of this category of seal script. Bronze inscriptions Seal script Large Seal Script Small Seal Script Seal Shuowen Jiezi, by Xu Shen. 《鸟虫书通考》, by CAO Jinyan. 《鸟虫篆大鉴》, by Xu Gupu.
Chinese bronze inscriptions
Chinese bronze inscriptions commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese scripts on Chinese ritual bronzes such as zhōng bells and dǐng tripodal cauldrons from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty and later. Early bronze inscriptions were always cast, while inscriptions were engraved after the bronze was cast; the bronze inscriptions are one of the earliest scripts in the Chinese family of scripts, preceded by the oracle bone script. For the early Western Zhou to early Warring States period, the bulk of writing, unearthed has been in the form of bronze inscriptions; as a result, it is common to refer to the variety of scripts of this period as "bronze script" though there is no single such script. The term includes bronze inscriptions of the preceding Shang dynasty as well. However, there are great differences between the pictorial Shang emblem characters on bronzes, typical Shang bronze graphs, writing on bronzes from the middle of the Zhou dynasty, that on late Zhou to Qin and subsequent period bronzes.
Furthermore, starting in the Spring and Autumn period, the writing in each region evolved in different directions, such that the script styles in the Warring States of Chu and the eastern regions, for instance, were strikingly divergent. In addition, artistic scripts emerged in the late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States, such as Bird Script called Bird Seal Script, Worm Script. 寅 Yín in Four Different Scripts on Shang–Zhou bronzes Of the abundant Chinese ritual bronze artifacts extant today, about 12,000 have inscriptions. These have been periodically unearthed since their creation, have been systematically collected and studied since at least the Song dynasty; the inscriptions tend to grow in length over time, from only one to six or so characters for the earlier Shang examples, to forty or so characters in the longest, late-Shang case, a hundred or more on Zhou bronzes, with the longest up to around 500. In general, characters on ancient Chinese bronze inscriptions were arranged in vertical columns, written top to bottom, in a fashion thought to have been influenced by bamboo books, which are believed to have been the main medium for writing in the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
The narrow, vertical bamboo slats of these books were not suitable for writing wide characters, so a number of graphs were rotated 90 degrees. Examples: Of the 12,000 inscribed bronzes extant today 3,000 date from the Shang dynasty, 6,000 from the Zhou dynasty, the final 3,000 from the Qin and Han dynasties. Inscriptions on Shang bronzes are of a uniform style, making it possible to discuss a "Shang bronze script", although great differences still exist between typical characters and certain instances of clan names or emblems. Like early period oracle bone script, the structures and orientations of individual graphs varied in the Shang bronze inscriptions, such that one may find a particular character written differently each time rather than in a standardized way; as in the oracle bone script, characters could be written facing left or right, turned 90 degrees, sometimes flipped vertically with no change in meaning. For instance, both represent the modern character xū 戌, while and are both hóu 侯 "marquis".
This was true of normal as well as extra complex identificational graphs, such as the hǔ 虎 "tiger" clan emblem at right, turned 90 degrees clockwise on its bronze. These inscriptions are all cast, are short and simple; some were to identify the name of a clan or other name, while typical inscriptions include the maker's clan name and the posthumous title of the ancestor, commemorated by the making and use of the vessel. These inscriptions those late period examples identifying a name, are executed in a script of pictographic flavor, which preserves the formal, complex Shang writing as would have been written on bamboo or wood books, as opposed to the concurrent simplified and more rectilinear form of writing as seen on the oracle bones. A few Shang inscriptions have been found which were brush-written on pottery, jade or bone artifacts, there are some bone engravings on non-divination matters written in a complex pictographic style; the soft clay of the piece-molds used to produce the Shang to early Zhou bronzes was suitable for preserving most of the complexity of the brush-written characters on such books and other media, whereas the hard, bony surface of the oracle bones was difficult to engrave, spurring significant simplification and conversion to rectilinearity.
Furthermore, some of the characters on the Shang bronzes may have been more complex than normal due to conservative usage in this ritual medium, or when recording identificational inscriptions. Shang bronze script may thus be considered a formal script, similar to but sometimes more complex than the unattested daily Shang script on bamboo and wood books and other media, yet far more complex than the Shang script on the oracle bones. Western Zhou dynasty cha
Stroke order refers to the order in which the strokes of a Chinese character are written. A stroke is a movement of a writing instrument on a writing surface. Chinese characters are used in various forms in Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese, they are known as Hanja in Korean and Chữ Hán in Vietnamese. Stroke order is attested in other logographic scripts, e.g. cuneiform. Chinese characters are logograms constructed with strokes. Over the millennia a set of agreed rules have been developed by custom. Minor variations exist between countries, but the basic principles remain the same, namely that writing characters should be economical, with the fewest hand movements to write the most strokes possible; this promotes writing speed and readability. This idea is important since as learners progress, characters get more complex. Since stroke order aids learning and memorization, students are taught about it from a early age in schools and encouraged to follow them; the Eight Principles of Yong uses the single character 永, meaning "eternity", to teach eight of the most basic strokes in Regular Script.
In ancient China, the Jiǎgǔwén characters carved on ox scapula and tortoise plastrons showed no indication of stroke order. The characters show huge variations from piece to piece, sometimes within one piece. During the divination ceremony, after the cracks were made, the characters were written with a brush on the shell or bone. Although the brush-written stroke order is not discernible after carving, there exists some evidence that it was not idiosyncratic: a few of the characters marginal administrative notations recording the provenance of the shells or bones, were not recarved, the stroke order of these characters tends to resemble traditional and modern stroke order. For those characters which were engraved into the hard surface using a knife by a separate individual, there is evidence that in at least some cases all the strokes running one way were carved the piece was turned, strokes running another way were carved. In early Imperial China, the common script was the Xiaozhuan style.
About 220 BC, the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first to conquer all of China, imposed Li Si's character uniformisation, a set of 3300 standardized Xiǎozhuàn characters. Its graphs on old steles — some dating from 200 BC — reveal indications of the stroke order of the time. However, stroke order could still not yet be ascertained from the steles, no paper from that time is extant; the true starting point of stroke order is the Lìshū style, more regularized, in some ways similar to modern text. In theory, by looking at the Lìshū style steles' graphs and the placement of each stroke, one can see hierarchical priority between the strokes, which indicates the stroke order used by the calligrapher or stele sculptors. Kǎishū style — still in use today — is more regularized, allowing one to more guess the stroke order used to write on the steles; the stroke order 1000 years ago was similar to that toward the end of Imperial China. For example, the stroke order of 广 is clear in the Kangxi dictionary of 1716.
The Kangxi and current shapes have tiny differences, while current stroke order is still the same, according to the old style. However, the stroke orders implied by the Kangxi dictionary are not similar to nowadays' norm. Cursive styles such as Xíngshū and Cǎoshū show stroke order more than Regular Script, as each move made by the writing tool is visible; the modern governments of mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan have standardized official stroke orders to be taught in schools. These stroke order standards are prescribed in conjunction to each government's standard character sets; the various official stroke orders agree on the vast majority of characters, but each have their differences. No governmental standard matches traditional stroke orders completely; the differences between the governmental standards and traditional stroke orders arise from accommodation for schoolchildren who may be overwhelmed if the rules about stroke orders are too detailed, or if there are too many exceptions.
The differences listed below are not exhaustive. Traditional stroke order: Widely used in Imperial China used in the Chinese cultural sphere secondary to each region's governmental standards. Practiced by informed scholars of calligraphy. Called "calligraphic" stroke order; these stroke orders are established by study of handwritten documents from pre-Republic China those of notable calligraphers. These stroke orders are most conservative regarding etymology, character construction, character evolution, tradition. Many characters have more than one stroke correct form. Stroke orders may vary depending on the script style. Unlike the other standards, this is not a governmental standard. Japanese stroke order: Prescribed in modern Japan; the standard character set of the MEXT is the Jōyō kanji, which contains many characters reformed in 1946. The MEXT lets editors prescribe a character's stroke order, which all should "follow commonsensical orders which are accepted in the society"; this standard diverges from the traditional stroke order in that the two sides of the grass radical are joined, written with three strokes.
Oracle bone script
Oracle bone script was the form of Chinese characters used on oracle bones—animal bones or turtle plastrons used in pyromantic divination—in the late 2nd millennium BCE, is the earliest known form of Chinese writing. The vast majority were found at the Yinxu site, they record pyromantic divinations of the last nine kings of the Shang dynasty, beginning with Wu Ding, whose accession is dated by different scholars at 1250 BCE or 1200 BCE. After the Shang were overthrown by the Zhou dynasty in c. 1046 BCE, divining with milfoil became more common, few oracle bone writings date from the early Zhou. The late Shang oracle bone writings, along with a few contemporary characters in a different style cast in bronzes, constitute the earliest significant corpus of Chinese writing, essential for the study of Chinese etymology, as Shang writing is directly ancestral to the modern Chinese script, it is the oldest known member and ancestor of the Chinese family of scripts, preceding the bronzeware script.
The common Chinese term for the script is jiǎgǔwén. It is an abbreviation of guījiǎ shòugǔ wénzì, which appeared in the 1930s as a translation of the English term "inscriptions upon bone and tortoise shell" first used by the American missionary Frank H. Chalfant in his 1906 book Early Chinese Writing. In earlier decades, Chinese authors used a variety of names for the inscriptions and the script, based on the place they were found, their purpose or the method of writing; as the majority of oracle bones bearing writing date from the late Shang dynasty, oracle bone script refers to a Shang script. It is certain that Shang-lineage writing underwent a period of development before the Anyang oracle bone script because of its mature nature. However, no significant quantity of identifiable writing from before or during the early to middle Shang cultural period has been discovered; the few Neolithic symbols found on pottery, jade, or bone at a variety of cultural sites in China are controversial, there is no consensus that any of them are directly related to the Shang oracle bone script.
The oracle bone script of the late Shang appears pictographic, as does its contemporary, the Shang writing on bronzes. The earliest oracle bone script appears more so than examples from late in the period. Comparing oracle bone script to both Shang and early Western Zhou period writing on bronzes, oracle bone script is greatly simplified, rounded forms are converted to rectilinear ones; the more detailed and more pictorial style of the bronze graphs is thus thought to be more representative of typical Shang writing than the oracle bone script forms, this typical style continued to evolve into the Zhou period writing and into the seal script of the Qin in the late Zhou period. It is known that the Shang people wrote with brush and ink, as brush-written graphs have been found on a small number of pottery and bone, jade and other stone items, there is evidence that they wrote on bamboo books just like those found from the late Zhou to Hàn periods, because the graphs for a writing brush and bamboo book are present in the oracle bone script.
Since the ease of writing with a brush is greater than that of writing with a stylus in wet clay, it is assumed that the style and structure of Shang graphs on bamboo were similar to those on bronzes, that the majority of writing occurred with a brush on such books. Additional support for this notion includes the reorientation of some graphs, by turning them 90 degrees as if to better fit on tall, narrow slats. Additionally, the writing of characters in vertical columns, from top to bottom, is for the most part carried over from the bamboo books to oracle bone inscriptions. In some instances lines are written horizontally so as to match the text to divinatory cracks, or columns of text rotate 90 degrees in mid stream, but these are exceptions to the normal pattern of writing, inscriptions were never read bottom to top; the vertical columns of text in Chinese writing are traditionally ordered from right to left. Oracle bone inscriptions, are arranged so that the columns begin near the centerline of the shell or bone, move toward the edge, such that the two sides are ordered in mirror-image fashion.
Despite the pictorial nature of the oracle bone script, it was a functional and mature writing system by the time of the Shang dynasty, i.e. able to record the Old Chinese language in its entirety and not just isolated kinds of meaning. This level of maturity implies an earlier period of development of at least several hundred years. From their presumed origins as pictographs and signs, by the Shang dynasty, most graphs were conventionalized in such a simplified fashion that the meanings of many of the pictographs are not apparent. Compare, for instance, the third and fourth graphs in the row below. Without careful research to compare these to forms, one would not know that t
Chinese family of scripts
The Chinese family of scripts are writing systems descended from the Chinese Oracle Bone Script and used for a variety of languages in East Asia. They include logosyllabic systems such as the Chinese script itself, adaptations to other languages, such as Kanji, Hanja, Chữ nôm and sawndip. More divergent are Tangut, Khitan large script, its offspring Jurchen, as well as the Yi script and Korean Hangul, which were inspired by Chinese although not directly descended from it; the deciphered Khitan small script may be another. In addition, various phonetic scripts descend from Chinese characters, of which the best known are the various kana syllabaries, the zhuyin semi-syllabary, nüshu, some influence on hangul; the Chinese scripts are written in various calligraphic hands, principally seal script, clerical script, regular script, semi-cursive script, cursive script. Adaptations range from the conservative, as in Korean, which used Chinese characters in their standard form with only a few local coinages, conservative Japanese, which has coined a few hundred new characters and used traditional character forms until the mid-20th century, to the extensive adaptations of Zhuang and Vietnamese, each coining over 10,000 new characters by Chinese formation principles, to the divergent Tangut script, which formed over 5,000 new characters by its own principles.
The earliest Chinese writing consists of divinatory texts inscribed on ox scapulae and tortoise plastrons found at the last Shang dynasty capital near Anyang and dating from 1200 BC. This Oracle Bone Script shows extensive simplification and linearization, which most researchers believe indicates an extensive period of development. Although some Neolithic symbols have been found on pottery, jade or bone at a variety of sites in China, there is no consensus that any of them are directly related to the Shang oracle bone script. Bronze inscriptions from about 1100 BC are written in a developed form of the script and provide a richer body of text; each character of the early script represents a word of Old Chinese, which at that time was uniformly monosyllabic. The strategies used are traditionally classified into six categories first recorded in the second century dictionary Shuowen Jiezi. Three of these categories involved a representation of the meaning of the word: Pictograms represent a word by a picture such as 日 rì "sun", 人 rén "person" and 木 mù "tree".
Ideograms are abstract symbols such as 三 sān "three" and 上 shàng "up". Semantic compounds combine simpler elements to indicate the meaning of the word, as in 林 lín "grove". Evolved forms of these characters are still in among the most used today. Words that could not be represented pictorially, such as abstract terms and grammatical particles, were denoted using characters for similar-sounding words; these phonetic loans are thus new uses of existing characters rather than new graphic forms. An example is 來 lái "come", written with the character for a similar-sounding word meaning "wheat". Sometimes the borrowed character would be modified to distinguish it from the original, as with 毋 wú "don't", a borrowing of 母 mǔ "mother". Phono-semantic compounds were obtained by adding semantic indicators to disambiguate phonetic loans; this type was used extensively on the oracle bones, has been the main source of new characters since then. For example, the character 其 representing jī "winnowing basket" was used to write the pronoun and modal particle qí.
The less common original word was written with the compound 箕, obtained by adding the symbol 竹 zhú "bamboo" to the character. Sometimes the original phonetic similarity has been obscured by millennia of sound change, as in 格 gé < *krak "go to" and 路 lù < *graks "road". Many characters explained as semantic compounds were phono-semantic compounds that have been obscured in this way; some authors dispute the validity of the semantic compound category. The sixth traditional category contained few characters, its meaning is uncertain. Development and simplification of the script continued during the Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods, with characters becoming less pictorial and more linear and regular, with rounded strokes being replaced by sharp angles. During the Warring States period, writing became more widespread, with further simplification and variation in the eastern states. After the western state of Qin unified China, its more conservative seal script became the standard for the whole country.
A simplified form known as the clerical script became the standard during the Han dynasty, evolved into the regular script still used today. At the same time semi-cursive and cursive scripts developed; the Traditional Chinese script is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Mainland China and Singapore use the Simplified Chinese variant; until the early 20th century, formal writing employed Literary Chinese, based on the vocabulary and syntax of classical works. The script was used less formally to record local varieties, which had over time diverged from the classical language and each other; the logographic script accommodated differences in pronunciation and word order, but new characters were required for words that could not be related to older forms. Many such characters were created using the traditional methods phono-semantic compounds; the Chinese script was for a long period the only writing system in Ea