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Chinese characters - their deeper wisdom

Elyn lived in China with her family for 30 years, soaking up the history and culture, having fun, and making many friends.


Chinese Characters -- Their Meaning and Wisdom

Chinese Characters are not just a scribble, but are made up of parts that have meaning, like the word telephone in English. TELE means far, and PHONE means sound, or voice. So "TELEPHONE" means "hearing sound from far away," describing what a telephone does. Chinese characters are often made up of parts that have meanings, much like the word TELEPHONE.

So is a Chinese Character just like the word telephone? No - there is more to it. Many of the characters have deep meanings, spiritual meanings that you can think about and ponder. Check out this page, and click on

Character Reflections

to check out some common characters and their amazing stories.

How to write Happy Valentine's Day in Chinese

Happy Valentine's Day in Chinese

Happy Valentine's Day in Chinese

Happy Valentine's Day, using the alphabet, is written as "Qing Ren Jie Quai Le." It is pronounced like this:

Ching Wren gee-eh K-why Luh

Chinese people celebrate two Valentine's Days, one on February 14th, like we do in the West, and another in August, with its roots in a traditional Chinese holiday. This holiday celebrates the story of the cowherd and weaver girl, and traditionally is a time when girls show off their melon carving or other household skills, and make wishes for a good husband. No chocolates. But there are other nice goodies to eat.

Ting - the Chinese Character that means STOP

Ting - the Chinese Character that means STOP

Chinese Characters Tell Stories...

The Story of "Stop"

The character that means "stop" is made up of two parts.

Can you see them? One part is on the left and one is on the right.

The part on the left represents a person, with a body and two legs. And the person has stopped to rest in the shade of the right side of the character, which represents a tall pagoda. When you put these two together you get the meaning of "stop," because the person has stopped their work to rest in the shade of the pagoda.

There is a story from China about stopping:

A person was standing by the road when a horse and rider came galloping by raising clouds of dust. The person at the side of the road, thinking that something important must be happening, called out to the rider,

"Hey! Where are you going?"

The rider called back loudly, "I don't know! Ask my horse!"

There are many horses to ride:

The horses of Habits, especially being overly busy. We run around frantically each day - for work, for school, to shop, run errands, play sports, workout, run, jog, clean the house, yard, car, take the dogs for a walk, do laundry, or sit in front of the TV exhausted.

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The horses of Emotions, like anger, worry, or depression, hate, jealousy or greed. We can miss the delight of simply being alive by winding ourselves up with negative emotions.

Or we may be riding the horses of Desires and Hunger for what we don't have, or think we need. I can remember when our children were small being overwhelmed with the desire for our own house. It is easy to think that we must have a certain brand of something, a certain way of living, a longer vacation or a fancier pet.

This character reminds us to stop the horse and reassess what we are doing. But to stop the horse, we first need to become aware of what it is we should stop and also become aware of our state of mind so we can keep it from taking us over.

Stopping our bodies is easier than stopping our minds. The character shows a person leaning their body against the side of a pavilion. The real challenge is to take the time to stop our mind and give it a rest.

Someone with a mathematical bent has added up all the time average Americans spend sitting at stoplights during their lives: about six months. Most people anxiously await the turn of the light to green. We scheme about how we will pull in front of some other car so we can be first, or gnash our teeth about being late. But in these stopped moments we can use our minds to take a break. We can make the choice to think about something else.

The possibilities are delightful! Sending love to someone, enjoying the green leaves on the trees, contemplating the subtlety of the winter landscape, savoring the cup of tea or coffee you just sipped, saying a prayer of thanks for the good things happening in your life, or even just breathing.

I haven't seen figures for how many minutes we use brushing our teeth, or boiling water for a cup of tea or coffee, but we really do have many opportunities to stop our constant worry or mind chatter and consciously create how we want to feel in our life. If that seems like a lot, at a stoplight you can simply hum your favorite song. It doesn't have to be complicated. Stopping provides us with the time and potential to choose how we want to feel while we go about our daily tasks.

It all started one day when someone stopped to rest in the shade of a tall pagoda...

More on the meaning of characters

Do you like this topic? You will find more in Character Reflections, which you can get at Amazon.

How to use a brush to write the character for "stop" - Paul is a fantastic calligrapher - watch the video to see him at work!

Paul Wang, Beijing calligrapher, shows us how to write the character that means "stop." Watch his brush. You write a character from top to bottom, and then left to right. See how he writes the part that means "person" first, and then adds the piece that means "pagoda" on the right. If you would like to have a copy of this character, please go to the website and look for the download link.

The character for Speech or to Speak is on the left.  The character for Sound is on the right.

The character for Speech or to Speak is on the left. The character for Sound is on the right.

Two more! The characters for "Speak" and "Sound"

What does it mean? The light that can be heard is sound and music

Look at the first character. It has a square mouth at the bottom. And what are the lines coming up from the mouth?

Have you ever thought of words as vapors that come from your mouth? In this character, the box at the bottom is a mouth, with vapors going up and out.

I love the mouth in this form, with the sound rising out so you can see it. It is reminiscent of being able to see your breath outside when the air is cold.

Now check the one on the right. It is almost the same. That one bar in the mouth expands the meaning to include sound, not just talking, but all sounds.

The mouth - which looks like a window at the bottom of this character - has something in it! And the sounds coming out are more elaborate! The line through the mouth-box is described as a tongue, words, and is also thought to be the numeral one, which represents heaven or the divine. All by itself the box with the line through it which looks like a window means the "sun". So there it is, the meaning deepens and the light that can be heard becomes sound.

This character is used in combinations of characters referring to music. Isn't it a wonderful thought to see music as the light that becomes sound? No matter where you are, in a church, temple, or even just outside, if you can hear the sound of sacred music, your spirit feels lifted, and you are put in touch again with your divine foundation. Here the peace, calm, solace, and a deeper sense of well-being that comes from being connected with the sacred can be felt.

Sound and the divine have a natural connection that we can experience if we listen carefully. We are being whispered to all the time by the universe in the singing of the birds at the turn of day, the sound of the sea, the wind in the mountains or blowing through a field of corn, and the sound of people in the market. Isn't it wonderful to have ears and the ability to hear?

This character is used in combinations of characters referring to music. Isn't it a wonderful thought to see music as the light that becomes sound?

No matter where you are, in a church, temple, or even just outside, if you can hear the sound of sacred music, your spirit feels lifted, and you are put in touch again with your divine foundation. Here the peace, calm, solace, and a deeper sense of well-being that comes from being connected with the sacred can be felt.

Sound and the divine have a natural connection that we can experience if we listen carefully. We are being whispered to all the time by the universe in the singing of the birds at the turn of day, the sound of the sea, the wind in the mountains or blowing through a field of corn, and the sound of people in the market. Isn't it wonderful to have ears and the ability to hear?

Chinese for "to clean" - Ca - What you say when it is time to wipe off the table


The parts of the character:

Left side: a hand holding something

Right side: a phonetic character, meaning "to examine" made up of parts (top to bottom):

Top: The roof of a hut,

Below the roof: meat offering (left) held in the hand (right) in the hopes of obtaining a

Bottom revelation from God.

The right side of the character is used in word pairs like "religious ceremonies" and "altar" and "to perceive, or to observe."

The spiritual heart of this character is the examining aspect. There is a reminder here too, not to just examine the object, but to examine the meaning of the object, and its spiritual weight.

Do you spring clean? The custom is such a good one. Not cleaning creates such a mess over time. I am guilty. In our house we have boxes of all sorts of stuff we have had a hard time getting rid of. Especially presents friends have given us over time. Little models of Beijing opera masks, wood carvings, tea pots that don't quite fit our concept of "beautiful" but are too nice to throw out. Do you have boxes like these?

I wince when I look at those boxes full of stuff. I can't bear to even open them. But the trick to cleaning is in the examination, which is what I am working on these days.

I examined some boxes a few weeks ago, and I discovered that these gifts felt like "love" to me. They embodied Caring. Friendship. Relationship. And in the examination, I have figured out why I have a hard time giving things away, and am slowly remedying it. I have decided that I feel like I am throwing my friend's love away when I get rid of their gift.

What to do? My new solution revolves around examination. Look carefully. Take a photo of everything, write its story. This way I separate the love and the object. Keep the love that came with the gift, but be free to give "the thing" away if you want.

Our Spiritual work of cleaning

I can clean the cupboards, examine what is there and throw out the old, get the things that are about to expire on the front of the shelf, and wipe up what has spilled. I can clean lots of things, including the house, but in Lent I have additional encouragement to clean my mind.

Cleaning your house is easier than cleaning your mind

I know from experience that if I keep up the effort, I can keep my mind cleaner too. And that is something I want. That is the spiritual work of Lent.

And what should I clean?

Madeleine L'Engle is a wonderful writer, perhaps you know her children's book, A Wrinkle in Time? This poem she wrote while watching her son burn the garbage is especially to the point.

Fire By Fire

My son goes down in the orchard to incinerate

Burning the day's trash, the accumulation

Of old letters, empty toilet paper rolls, a paper plate,

Marketing lists, discarded manuscript, on occasion

Used cartons of bird seed, dog biscuit. The fire

Rises and sinks; he stirs the ashes till the flames expire.

Burn, too, old sins, bedraggled virtues, tarnished

Dreams, remembered unrealities, the gross

Should-haves, would-haves, the unvarnished

Errors of the day, burn, burn the loss

Of intentions, recurring failures, turn

Them all to ash. Incinerate the dross. Burn. Burn.

~ Madeleine L'Engle The Weather of the Heart, p. 49.

It's a good reminder. I read this poem and asked myself, what are my versions of L'Engle's "old sins, bedraggled virtues, tarnished dreams, remembered unrealities, the gross should-haves, would-haves, the unvarnished errors of the day?"

Just like we clean the house, we can also clean our minds, which is a spiritual practice, and a good thing to remember not just during Lent, but during the whole year. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

What does this image mean?

What does this image mean?

Can you tell what this character means?

It has a big "eye" on the right...

The left part of the character is there for its phonetic sound, but it also means "stork", an animal known for its ability to stand perfectly still while observing what is happening underwater, and also known for its incredible grace and perfection of movement in flight.

In ancient script, the right part of the character shows a man with a big eye on top, like someone walking around staring at things. This half of the character means "to see" and is also used in other characters, including the characters for the ability to hear! I find that interesting, since being able to "see", to really hear someone and not just listen to sounds, is an important part of hearing. So, these two character parts put together make the word "guan" - used for words that describe the ability to see, observe, and meditate.

The stork has to stand perfectly still in order to observe the fish swimming under the water. Its powers of observation are beyond what most people are able to do. So it is natural to find a stork in the character that means "to observe."

For more reflection on the character "to observe," visit the site or go to Amazon to purchase the book.

explain Chinese characters

explain Chinese characters

The Chinese character for Hospitality

Insights from the Chinese character Re Cheng - hospitality

A character is made of bits and pieces...

Today we are taking a look at the character pair, Re Cheng, which signifies "hospitality."

The bits:

First character: Re means warm or hot, and is pronounced ruh

Top - a phonetic piece

Bottom - flames of a fire

Second character: Cheng means sincere, and is pronounced chung

Left side - words

Right side - becoming reality

Hospitality is pictured in these two characters as warm words of sincerity that bloom into actions of the same nature. Perhaps everyone has had some times of hospitality that came with good words but was not followed up with warm realization. Just the words themselves are a pale shadow of what hospitality can be if it is put into action.

Hospitable what? Can you guess?

They are strong, quite tall, and make a pleasant spot in the environment. Sometimes they make us wince if we see where someone has run into one off the road. They can fall on streets in the winter and are a nuisance.

Hospitable what?

Hospitable trees.

The world is so full of trees that by seeing them every day, we forget what an amazing creation they are. They provide us with oxygen, offer us shade in the summer, and can screen our windows from the business of the road. In cold climates they even lose their leaves in the winter and let the sun warm the house when every little bit of sunbeam to counts to keep us a little warmer. Those same leaves return nourishment to the soil, and provide cover for tender plants during the freezing temperatures of the winter. Not only do they have all these positive qualities, but they give us a vision of hospitality.

The hospitality of trees

I love trees, but one of the things I love most about trees is their hospitable attitude. Trees are always welcoming to every guest that arrives on its branches, be it bird or squirrel, bug or butterfly. The tree's branch-arms never push creatures off (although sometimes I wish our back yard trees would just drop off that naughty squirrel who comes and pulls off the crocus petals in the spring to eat the delicious stamens inside).

Their boughs remain open to all, naughty squirrels playing tag, big black crows, or sometimes a flock of dozens of birds, who all seem to want to squeeze into that particular tree. What is it about that tree that is so inviting? Certainly it is the tree's open boughs and patience with all the activity that brought the flock of birds twittering and singing in the late afternoon, holding them close until they are ready to settle down for the night. Trees are open to all just the way they come. Even though a tree is not a person, there is much to learn from the hospitality of trees.

"In the cherry blossom's shade

there's no such thing

as a stranger."

~Kobayashi Issa - Japanese poet known for his haiku poetry, 1763-1828

Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.

~George Washington Carver, 1864 - 1943

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

~Hebrews 13:2

Chinese Characters

Do you like Chinese characters? These books are fun too.

Chinese Characters on the Wall - in a Soup Restaurant - A scroll of Chinese characters on the wall are often an inspirational quote

Character Reflections Chinese calligraphy

Character Reflections Chinese calligraphy

This photo is of a scroll in a soup restaurant in the Zhang Jiang area of Shanghai, not too far from the airport. Lots of working people live in Zhang Jiang, and they throng to this restaurant. Because the soup there is Cantonese in style, the flavor is not heavy, but is light, and best of all, there is a subtle fragrance that is charming.

The calligraphy reads:

Zhi4 wei4 si4 dan4

The highest flavor is (light, not heavy)

Zhi4 ren2 si4 chang2

The highest person is (ordinary, regular)

I suppose the closest saying we have to this in English is "she is the salt of the earth". In Chinese custom, people with position and face are the important ones with high value in society. To say that "ordinary, regular" people are the best gives them the face they deserve. Yes to the ordinary!

The characters on the wall say... - Well, it depends on how you read it!

meaning of Chinese symbols

meaning of Chinese symbols

Here is a fascinating poem I found on the wall at a Beijing Traditional Restaurant in near Xi Ba He. The funny thing about this poem is that you can read it in all directions, left to right, right to left, up and down, and down and up. These are the words - try it yourself.

````Moon Read Fish Clear Water

Heavens Speak Birds Quiet Forest

The "proper way" to read the poem is right to left:

The water is clear, the fish can read the moon.

The forest is quiet, the birds are chatting (speak heavens is an idiom, for chatting about everything)

You can read it backwards too:

The moon reads the fish in the clear water.

The heavens speak of the birds in the quiet forest.

Up down left to right, it is

The moon and the heavens speak and read the fish and birds in the clear and quiet waters and forests.

Up down, right to left, it is

The waters and forests are clear and quiet, the fish and birds are reading and speaking of the moon and heavens.

Fun, isn't it?

How do you say Happy Saint Patrick's Day in Chinese! - Maybe you need to know?

how to say happy saint patricks day in chinese

how to say happy saint patricks day in chinese

The first character means holy and also means Saint..

The next four characters are the Chinese that sound most like "Patrick" to Chinese ears.

The fifth character is the word used for all holidays, jie, pronounced gee-eh.

The last two characters mean happy.

The words don't follow the same order as English. For example, if you wanted to say "Happy Holiday!" you would say "Holiday Happy" in Chinese.

How to pronounce this?

Say: shung pah tuh lee kuh gee-eh kwii luh!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you!

Chinese for Merry Christmas! - Would you like to wish your friends Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Merry Christmas in Chinese

Merry Christmas in Chinese

You can copy the characters above, or you can try saying it in Mandarin..

This is how you say it:

Shung Dahn kwii luh!

Its not that hard! Let me know what you think.

Have you ever tried to write any Chinese characters?

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 27, 2014:

@Donna Cook: In China people often wish others good luck. One of the most popular wishes is that you will have good luck and everything just the way you wish.

Donna Cook on July 24, 2014:

Fascinating lens! I'm only familiar with the characters for good luck.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 10, 2014:

@crystalpearl25: I find them terribly difficult to remember too. My brain was formed with ABCs, which gave it a different kind of remembering.

crystalpearl25 on July 09, 2014:

Great lens! I just came back from China after living there for over 5 years. During my stay there I had to learn to write Chinese characters. Always found them so difficult to remember, but they do look so artistic and are full of meaning.

tonyleather on February 10, 2014:

What a very interesting and informative lens! Thanks a lot!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on July 06, 2013:

@RoSelou: Thank you for your kind comment! I like them too...

RoSelou on June 30, 2013:

When i see a book with Chinese characters i often don't pick it, since i consider it too complex for a language. Your lens opens my mind that these characters is interesting, and I love studying signs. Great lens.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on April 24, 2013:

@justramblin: Thanks! Glad you like it!

justramblin on April 24, 2013:

Yes, I love studying the meaning of the characters. Once I understand the story behind them, they are easier for me to read. Your book sounds like one I'd love to read. I really enjoyed this lens very much.

Malu Couttolenc on February 20, 2013:

I tried, took one month of Mnadarin of course didn't learn much but it was nice. I didn't know wo many things about Chinese characters. Fanstastic lens!

cofcjoni on February 20, 2013:

Very nice lens and subject. I teach preschool and many of our public schools teach Chinese as well.

Melissa from Florida on February 20, 2013:

Very informational, thank you for making such a great lens!

SandraWilson LM on February 19, 2013:

Very nice and educational lens. I knew the characters were made up of parts but I could see them as you described them. Nicely done!

PinkstonePictures from Miami Beach, FL on February 19, 2013:

Wow, interesting lens.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on February 17, 2013:

@happynutritionist: Oh thank you for your blessing! It is very interesting to live here - and Bibles in Chinese are quite something. Not an a b or c in sight!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on February 17, 2013:

@FastSecrets: They are difficult if you don't start when you are small. I agree! You count as literate if you know 3,000 characters. That is what most people use for reading newspapers and daily life. College grads will know 10,000 or more, but only the dictionary geeks will know more than that.

FastSecrets on February 16, 2013:

Great info. Lucky me I found your lens by chance.

Chinese characters are too difficult for me.

There are over 50,000 characters to master

happynutritionist on February 16, 2013:

I have or had a Bible in Chinese - may have passed it along by now - and the humble fortune cookies that come with our Chinese meals each have a word in Chinese characters with the interpretation on one side. That is the extent of my knowledge until visiting this beautiful page. It must have been interesting to live there. *blessed*

anonymous on February 01, 2013:

I have tried to write Chinese characters, they present so artfully and now its good to learn more of what is behind them and deeper meanings. You have taught us very well, delightful!

CoolFool83 on January 30, 2013:

I learned something new. Great lense.

WriterJanis2 on January 30, 2013:

I haven't. These are so beautiful. It's such an art form. Blessed!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on January 16, 2013:

@LaPikas: This is so true, and you are absolutely right, that if you don't understand the culture, you won't really be able to use a language well and truly convey your meaning. Fortunately, characters are not the most important part of knowing Chinese - speaking it is far more critical. Thanks for your comments!

LaPikas on January 16, 2013:

I enjoyed reading your lens very made me think about what they say that if you want to know more about a language you have to know more about the culture as well...and this is really true. I find very interesting all the meanings and structure of chinese characters, but very difficult to learn and manage to use them in daily life...maybe it's just me.

Vikki from US on January 15, 2013:

Yes, I've tried ;)

Back with a blessing!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on January 07, 2013:

@kinleymcfadden: Yes indeed! Practice helps a lot! I never get enough...

kinleymcfadden on January 05, 2013:

What a great lens! Very interesting. I took a chinese course in college and it was fun to learn to write chinese characters. It does get easier with practice.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 03, 2013:

Very interesting.

May Matthew on January 02, 2013:

An inspiring article. Thank you!

ismeedee on January 01, 2013:

FAscinating! Happy New Year!! Our family were all giving amazing sculptures of each of our Chinese horoscope this year for xmas with chinese characters on them!

Odille Rault from Gloucester on November 17, 2012:

What a fascinating lens! Congrats on the well-deserved Purple Star. :)

cmadden on November 04, 2012:

I love the way you added your thoughts to the stories and characters - a very interesting lens!

randomthings lm on October 06, 2012:

I think I have tried years ago to do a couple. It is very interesting to learn how other people communicate and how something that we are unable to read means something. If that makes sense...

Rosyel Sawali from Manila Philippines on October 05, 2012:

The characters you shared here are truly interesting. Being Filipino-Chinese, I learned Chinese while growing up. I need to brush up on my Mandarin though. Nice reading a lens about Chinese characters and their meanings. ^_^

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on October 03, 2012:

@poutine: It's difficult - but it isn't so hard once you get the scheme of it.

poutine on October 03, 2012:

I always thought it was too difficult to write Chinese characters.

Cheryl Kohan from England on October 02, 2012:

I haven't tried to write Chinese characters but I'd love to try, sometime. This is such a good page...not just because of the Chinese characters but because the thoughts you've shared are interesting and heartwarming. You've certainly earned that purple star!

tfsherman lm on October 01, 2012:

What a beautiful lens! Thanks!

Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on September 22, 2012:

No, and I hope you don't think that I'm going to remember these characters here. I'm terrible with languages of any kind, even American English!


kerri5 on September 10, 2012:

I especially like 'zhi4 ren2 si4 chang4- è³ äºº ä¼¼ 常ãI am so very 'chang2'ã hehe. does it make me very 'zhi4â also?

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on September 07, 2012:

@lesliesinclair: Oh thank you - that is a wonderful compliment. More and more people are studying Chinese - and it is a smart thing to do! There are jobs out there that need Chinese - and not so many people to fill them. Nice to meet you!

lesliesinclair on September 07, 2012:

I've never tried, even though they are beautiful. My son studied Chinese in college. You've done a beautiful job of explanation on this lens.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on September 06, 2012:

@anonymous: I think you are thinking of å¿ è¯ï¼ I like your thoughts about being passionate about sincerity - that is a wonderful trait in people.

anonymous on September 06, 2012:

But ç­è¯ means devotion, not hospitality. Which makes sense with that interpretation too. ç­ means hot like temperature, but also in a "fiery passion" sort of a way similar to English (ie ç­(hot)æ(emotion, feelings) means passionate). So it's saying be passionate about sincerity ï¼è¯ï¼ï¼which remember is 'words' and 'to become'). Being passionate about being sincere is to devote oneself.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on September 02, 2012:

@miaponzo: Oh thank you! Yes, a good many characters have completely developed from pictures. But some are phonetic. They are interesting too, since the phonetic that was picked often has a related meaning. Always something to think about. Thanks for stopping by and giving a blessing!

miaponzo on September 02, 2012:

Back for a blessing.. I love the way Chinese language has developed from pictures to symbols :)

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 27, 2012:

@julieannbrady: Do you know what they mean? I love individual characters - they are so beautiful.

julieannbrady on August 27, 2012:

I've never tried to write Chinese characters, but have always been rather fascinated by the artsy style of them. I actually have a couple of Chinese characters hanging in my kitchen! ;)

Angela F from Seattle, WA on August 27, 2012:

I've never tried to write it myself, but am always fascinated when watching others. *blessed

anonymous on August 26, 2012:

I have not, but I thought it was so cool to have my name done in Chinese characters when I was in Chinatown. Thanks for information.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 18, 2012:

@anonymous: You are so welcome. It was my hope that it would do that. Thanks to you too!

anonymous on August 18, 2012:

Chinese is considered to be more difficult to learn than English. I now understand why. Good information. Thanks for taking the time to make this lens.

JoshK47 on August 18, 2012:

I have not, though I'd really like to learn. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 17, 2012:

@hartworks lm: My goodness! What a special background you have. And what a beautiful name you have in Chinese. It's very very poetic and lofty. So happy you found my lens! You might enjoy my book, which is called Character Reflections and is available at Amazon or at the characterreflections dot com site. So nice to meet you!

hartworks lm on August 17, 2012:

My grandfather was an advisor to Dr. Sun Yat Sen and my father grew up partly in China and went on to be a political scientist specializing in the Far East, so I was around a lot of Chinese characters -- we had scrolls all over the house. I was given a Chinese name, which I used to be able to write but haven't tried in years, Lin San Yuan, with the poetic meaning of "the forest of the three springs." This reflected the hope that I would be the 3rd generation to have close ties with China. That didn't happen but I am definitely a fan of Chinese characters... both on paper and visiting with them!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 16, 2012:

@TwistedWiseman: Wow! Cool!

TwistedWiseman on August 16, 2012:

I will give it a go. I use Japanese katakana for my name.

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 14, 2012:

@Elaine Chen: My children did too - they were at school in China. Of course, they also had their lessons in English, which I gave them in the afternoons. Writing English is a lot easier than writing in Chinese!

Elaine Chen on August 14, 2012:

yes, I learn Chinese characters in primary schools

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on August 11, 2012:

@anonymous: Can you send me an email with a picture?

anonymous on August 11, 2012:

I have a charm bracelet I've had since I was a child with Chinese characters. How can I find out what these characters mean?

Echo Phoenix on July 31, 2012:

yes, I have and I love it! it is pure art, truly. Squidtastic!

sheezie77 on June 20, 2012:

Very interesting lens, great job! Squidlike

joannalynn lm on June 03, 2012:

The derivation of the words has so much meaning, but the Chinese are an ancient people. It makes me appreciate their language and the written form of their language, as well as the beauty of it as an art form. I learned a lot from this lens. Thank you!

NAIZA LM on May 24, 2012:

I really love to learn someday.. Chinese characters are really so interesting to learn this kind of new languages. Very resourceful lens! ~Blessed by a Squid Angel. :)

Ladyeaglefeather on May 17, 2012:

my son doodles, these all of the time. I love this page.

dahlia369 on May 17, 2012:

Very interesting, thank you for sharing the deeper meaning of Chinese characters. I always thought of them as artistic and intricate but after reading your lens my understanding reached another dimension, thank you!! :)

BlogsWriter on May 13, 2012:

Chinese characters look a bit complicated but great effort to explain them, well done.

jlshernandez on May 12, 2012:

Yes, I have. My grandfather taught me to write my name in Chinese which is really the phonetic translation of my English name. I can write 1-10 and that is about the extent of my knowhow. This is a fabulous lens explained so clearly for the layman who do not read Chinese characters. I enjoyed reading this and it deserves to be blessed.*****

evaemilie on May 02, 2012:

Very interesting reading, thank you! I don't know how to read Chinese characters, but they are very beautiful and calligraphy is fascinating!

aurora7 on April 30, 2012:

This is a great lens. I love the story in the beginning about the character stop.

norma-holt on April 18, 2012:

yes, I looked at the way characters are formed years ago when doing my linguistic research into the origin of language and religion. It is interesting how some chinese characters resembles things in English as well as other languages, such as French. Two of my grandsons (5 and 7 years) are doing Chinese as a compulsory subject at school and the youngest one sang me a song he has learned. It was wonderful. Featured this on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012. Hugs

SteveKaye on March 28, 2012:

Excellent presentation on a difficult topic. You have made Chinese characters approachable and interesting.

earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on March 03, 2012:

Great lense! I am always encouraging my children to learn Chinese and Vietnamese. Many blessings. Cheers Grace

kerri5 on February 24, 2012:

Yes I have tried write Chinese characters! They are the coolest characters ;)

anonymous on February 24, 2012:

informative lens. thanks

flicker lm on February 23, 2012:

What an inspiring lens! Thanks.

Brandi from Maryland on February 21, 2012:

Wow! Very fun to learn about Chinese characters! I never gave them much thought since I have no reason to be acquainted with them, but you have certainly peaked my curiosity! :)

squeedunk on February 20, 2012:

Nice an informative. I appreciate having a breakdown of the characters this way. You really bring them to life. Well Done!

Elyn MacInnis (author) from Shanghai, China on February 10, 2012:

@SciTechEditorDave: Wow - you have done a lot of studying! I didn't have it in this lens, but Chinese characters were taken to Japan hundreds of years ago and used as the basis of their written language, so there are many similarities in meaning. I guess that is the subject of another lens.... Thanks.

David Gardner from San Francisco Bay Area, California on February 09, 2012:

Nice lens! (Hen hao!) Yes, I took Japanese for many years (high school and college) and Mandarin (in college), and traveled to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau I'm quite familiar with the Hanzu (or in Japanese, "Kanji") characters. You have a very nice lens here. Congratulations on a Squidoo masterpiece!

kathysart on January 02, 2012:

I used to do henna tattoos on Kauai, HI and did a lot of Chinese characters.. I love them. Thumbs up and blessed.

rewards4life info on December 27, 2011:

No, I haven't.But I'd really love to try it some day. I'm bookmarking your lens for later. Fascinating topic. Well done!

dellgirl on December 26, 2011:

Yes, I tried writing Chinese characters years ago, didn't do very well. I like them a lot though. Very nice lens, thumbs up!

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