How Many Characters Are in the Chinese Alphabet?


Quick Answer

The Chart of Common Characters of Modern Chinese contains 3,500 characters, as of 2015. However, the Dictionary of Chinese Variant Form contains definitions for over 100,000 Chinese characters.

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Full Answer

Another document, called the Great Compendium of Chinese Characters, features definitions for over 50,000 characters. However, many of these characters are not used in everyday speech. The official test for learning Chinese requires knowledge of about 2,600 characters in order to pass. Chinese is the oldest known written language in human history, and it has gone through three major transformations since it was first started. The third change is referred to as the simplification movement and led to what is known as the Simplified and Traditional forms of written Chinese.

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