Question about Chinese

This might sound like a silly question, but my curiousity got the better of me.

How do Chinese native speakers figure out how to pronounce new characters they come across when reading novels etc.? Is there a way to figure it out, or do they have to consult a dictionary? Do they generally need to go off and practice writing these new characters to be able to write them by hand, or does this kind of come automatically?


in many cases the pronounciation can be inferred from the phonetic component of a character (if there is one). However this is not fool proof and doesn’t work in all cases. For writing I’d say that a native Chinese encounters new characters when he enters the university for example I’d say that writing traing is not necessary because he’ll know all the basic elements in that new character.


In Japan, we learn about 1900 basic characters at schools, so we can guess new characters. But in my case, I cannot pronounce very difficult words although I can guess theirs meanings.

I can write by hand almost every character, but I don’t know exactly charcters’ stroke orders. When I look up them, I sometimes realize my mistakes. Maybe, I learned them badly at primary school.

when a new word come across,the most time ,I can guess the mearning .but I ususlly don’t attente the pronounce and how to write it.

I would just look up the dictionary.

Come to think about it. For those who only know the Pinyin input, how do you type a character you don’t know how to read? You cannot even type it into your online dictionary.

edwin - word lens, already :slight_smile:

maybe there are over ten of thousands characters over there.
but what we usually use are about 2000~4000 (i guess)
it means that if you can recognize about 2000 characters , you can read almost chinese articles
it’s different from english, in english ,if you want to read new articles of new field, you might learn more new words
but in chinese, of course, you should learn new words to realize the article of new field, and “new words” generally are composed from “the characters you’ve learned”

for example:
rocket is a word

and in chinese it’s called" 火箭"
火箭 is composed from “fire+arrow” it’s meaningful

due to this, we can understand(guess with the context) the the words which we haven;t seen !