Thursday, 17 April 2014
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Chineasy – learn Chinese through graphics

Illustrator Noma Bar is working with entrepreneur ShaoLan Hsueh to develop Chineasy, a new method of learning Chinese through graphical ‘building-block’ words.

 

Fire

Fire

After studying the language and breaking down thousands of common characters, ShaoLan concluded that most characters are built from around 100 ‘building blocks’.

She identified the most common ones and briefed Noma Bar to create a series of illustrations that clearly show what the basics are.

Similar to Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Bar’s illustrations show ‘fire’, ‘person’ etc. He’s worked to create literal interpretations of the characters – harking back to their - presumably figurative - roots.

Tree

Tree

These basic characters can be combined to make a series of compounds. Two trees is a ‘forest’ (obviously), a mouth and a door is a ‘boss’ (somewhat logically) and two women together is an ‘argument’ (not sure we’re comfortable with this one to be honest…).

Argument

Argument

The basic blocks or compounds can be combined to create an array of words and phrases – ‘big’ and ‘group’ makes ‘everyone’, ‘sky’ and ‘big’ makes ‘extremely big’ and so on.

Extremely big

Extremely big

There’s a film explaining the Chineasy system here:

ShaoLan says that as well as helping people to learn Chinese, the system also helps people understand the historical and cultural influences behind the language.

Boss

Boss

She’s now started a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise £75 000 to develop the system and create a Chineasy book.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Amazing idea, wish I had this when I was younger, however how do you know how to read/pronounce the characters...?

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