01 July, 2007:
Different Characters in Different Places
It is not very often that a unique writing system is developed from scratches. After surrounding civilizations noticed the Chinese method of keeping records and communicating across vast distances, they decided that they wanted a piece of the action as well. Instead of inventing unique scripts that were designed to suit their own languages, these civilizations adopted Chinese writing and set it to work for their own purposes.
The details of various groups adoption of Chinese characters are different for each group. However, they all share a common story-line. First, another language group adopted classical Chinese as its standard written language. Next, people decided that they wanted to use characters in slightly different places to record their language as it was spoken. Finally, characters were refined into additional scripts that better suited for their specific language.
This story is well known in East Asia, where it was repeated in Korea, Japan and Vietnam to name the major players. No good part of a series comes without its own unique plot twists, so keep reading to learn about the spread of Chinese characters outside of China.