The Chinese language has a large vocabulary.
As for the total number of its characters up till now, perhaps nobody can give
the exact figure. From records in ancient books about the Chinese characters and
words, we can see the development of Chinese characters in terms of
Dictionaries of the Qin Dynasty show that
there were altogether 3,300 characters at that time. Xunzhuanpian
compiled by Yang Xiong of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) collected 5,340
characters. Shuowen Jiezi (Elucidations of the Signs and Explications of
the Graphs) by Xu Shen of the Han Dynasty had a vocabulary of 9,353 characters.
After the Jin (1115-1234) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, the Chinese
language witnessed rapid development. In the dictionary Zilin (Collection
of Characters) of the Jin Dynasty, there were over 12,824 characters. Yupian,
a dictionary by Sun Qiang of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), has 22,561 Chinese
(Dictionary of Emperor Kangxi) compiled by Zhang Yushu, the most recent
dictionary developed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), included more than 47,000
characters. In 1915, Zhonghua Da Zidian (Great Dictionary of China) has
more than 48,000 characters. In 1959, Dai Kanwa Jjiten (Chinese-Japanese
dictionary), edited by Morohashi Tetsuji, included 49,964 characters. And, in
1971 Zhongwen Da Cidian (Great Dictionary of the Chinese Language),
edited by Zhang Qiyun, had a vocabulary of 49,888 characters.
With the passage of time, dictionaries with
more and more characters came into being. However, knowledge of about 4,000
characters is necessary for reading a newspaper and for most other common