Chinese written language is a logographic system in which a unique symbol, character, is used to represent lexical morphemes and each character maps to one morpheme rather than to an individual phonemic unit of the spoken language.
Unlike alphabetic-phonemic languages, in which the semantic and orthographic correlation is largely arbitrary, the Chinese writing system embeds semantic information within the character itself. Above 83% of the Chinese characters are compound characters composed of two components: a semantic component that gives a clue to meaning and a phonetic component that offers a clue to pronunciation. The component itself can stand alone as an independent character or it could be a stroke pattern that occurs only within characters. For instance, the component “女” ([nǚ], female) in the character “妈” ([mā], mother) is itself a character, whereas the component “忄” ([xīn], heart) in the character “怕” ([pà], fear) is not a free-standing character.
The character is the most confusing part. Characters are neither letters nor words. They are something in between, because they are the components of the words. At the same time, they also possess meanings individually. For example, the character “清” ([qīng], clear) has a meaning by itself, but in order to make the subject more specific, there should be another character goes before or after it, like “清水” ([qīng shuǐ], clear water).
After introducing the function of a character in Chinese language, it is time to introduce some background of one of the oldest languages, Chinese. there are two types of characters: simplified and traditional. Traditional Chinese is mainly used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and to a limited use in South Korea. Simplified Chinese is used by People Republic of China, Singapore and Malaysia. The traditional character system uses the authentic Chinese characters, but it is composed of many more strokes. The simplified version, on the other hand, was transformed from traditional characters at 1956. The main reason for the transformation is to increase the literacy in mainland China.
These features become the main motivation for choosing a character system. The good thing is that as communication increases among mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, residents from each place are mostly capable of reading both character systems.