Stages of Chinese Character Lesser Seal Script Regular ScriptOracle bone script (Simple Chinese) Chinese bronze Clerical Script inscriptions Regular Script Greater Seal (Traditional Chinese)
Traditional classificationThere are six traditional types of HanCharacter• Pictograms• Simple ideograms• Ideogrammatic compounds• Rebus characters• Phono-semantic compound characters• Derivative cognates
Pictograms• Roughly 600 Chinese characters are pictograms— stylized drawings of the objects they represent.• These are generally among the oldest characters
Simple ideograms• Ideograms express an abstract idea through an iconic form, including iconic modification of pictographic characters.
Ideogrammatic compounds• In ideogrammic compounds, also called associative compounds or logical aggregates.• Two or more pictographic or ideographic characters are combined to suggest a third meaning 木×2 = 林 木×3 = 森 人+木 = 休 a man leaning two trees three trees against a tree → grove → forest → rest
Rebus characters• These are characters that are "borrowed" to write another homophonous or near- homophonous morpheme, comparable with using "4" as a rebus for English "for"
Phono-semantic compound characters• They form the majority of Chinese characters — over 90%• Characters were created by combining a rebus with a determinative Compound Determinative Rebus 氵 木 沐 water mù mù "to wash oneself 采 艹 cǎi 菜 plant "harvest, vegetable" cài "vegetable
Derivative cognates• It may refer to characters which have similar meanings and often the same etymological root, but which have diverged in pronunciation and meaning