Having trouble figuring out all those odd strokes swirling across local street signs, subway platforms and restaurant menus?
Here's some help. Shanghai's East China Normal University has launched a Website that explains the mysteries of Mandarin characters, featuring a platform specially made for foreigners seeking to learn the language, school officials said Monday.
After logging on, members can receive Chinese language content including stroke order, pronunciation and other information at no cost.
Mandarin students can search for characters by a variety of means, including pinyin.
The Website is supported by a database developed over more than a decade by the university's Center for the Study and Application of Chinese Characters.
It explores the culture of the language, including stories and riddles about the characters and the evolution of Chinese characters from inscriptions on ancient bronze objects to regular script.
Teaching media include flash cartoons to help students understand the strokes and the evolution of the words they represent.
Elizabeth Shores, a professor at the University of Iowa who is responsible for the translation and recording work of the project, said the site is a world-class feast of Chinese characters and Chinese culture.
Those interested in learning more can visit www.wenzi.cn/exponew/Mindex.asp to get access to the free language learning material.
(Shanghai Daily November 11, 2008)