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How do Chinese characters foreigners or beginner Chinese learners write appear to natives? Is there a difference? Does it depend on how long they have been learning, or are they all different from a native Chinese's handwriting? Would the handwriting even strike a native as a foreigner's penning at all? And how about a beginner's handwriting?

Alright, those are all my questions.

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    It is not a question that can be answered with fact. All beginners write horribly, a native Chinese 3 years old and a 60 years old non-Chinese man's writing might look the same in people's eyes. Once they get better at it, you can't tell the difference
    – Tang Ho
    Feb 1, 2021 at 21:52
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    I've heard of comparisons to Mao Xinyu's handwriting...
    – Mou某
    Feb 1, 2021 at 21:54
  • My advice: 1. Find a copybook for calligraphy. Kaishu(楷书, regular script) is the best choice. 2. Practise a lot and think the structure of Chinese Characters. How much should you practise? I don't know, but a lot of Chinese practises for years to write well. Actually, three years' practice is enough to write well for a Chinese learner, in my opinion.
    – T-Pioneer
    Feb 2, 2021 at 1:55
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    Having taught a large number of adult foreigners, I can say that it's certainly not true that everybody starts on the same level. Some students show great penmanship in English and are able to write neat Chinese characters very quickly compared to others. Their characters might be wrong in some aspects, but don't look childish at all. Ultimately, it's about spending a lot of time on writing, taking your time and caring about what it looks like. Most people don't, so their handwriting is horrible.
    – Olle Linge
    Feb 2, 2021 at 8:22
  • Penmanship shows a person's artistic inclination and skill in balance, somebody just does not have any and never will, regardless of native or not, and intelligence or education level. BTW, I wonder how popular is for foreigners to learn "毛筆字":) It could be real benefits in learning Chinese writing though.
    – r13
    Apr 9, 2021 at 5:03

4 Answers 4

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How do Chinese characters foreigners or beginner Chinese learners write appear to natives?

Weird yet right.

Is there a difference? Does it depend on how long they have been learning, or are they all different from a native Chinese's handwriting?

Knowing the basics is what it takes to achieve writing Chinese. Lines and curves are the most important thing to keep in mind. There are different writings in Chinese, just like English. Cursive is one of them. Time is a huge impact. Have you heard of this saying: Practice makes perfect.

Would the handwriting even strike a native as a foreigner's penning at all? And how about a beginner's handwriting?

Shrug. Foreigner penning and beginner penning is almost like the same thing but with different practice. Even a Native would need to begin with the same method of writing. I know because I'm Chinese and learn this from painful writing experiences like writing a word 500 times before I got it right.

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It does require a lot of effort. Some native speakers of Mandarin Chinese might write worse than non-natives. It all depends on how much time and effort you'd like to put in. First, find the writing you like, and just copy it as many times as it takes for you to write the same thing. It's the same as practice calligraphy really.

As a native of Taiwan, we write traditional characters. And I seriously cannot remember how many times I wrote the characters while learning... A LOT for sure.

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There is no true difference.

In general, foreigners will have worse or slightly off handwriting. However this is because of less time practicing writing chinese by hand, or not learning proper techniques. You will also see natives who haven't had as much writing practice or learned improper techniques. These people with poor writing are indistinguishable as foreigner or native-- they are all equally "incorrect" or "lacking practice". Think of any native english speaker you know with not beautiful or even straight up illegible handwriting-- it can happen to anyone.

In the same way, there are plenty of foreigners who have put in the time to practice handwriting and learned proper techniques. There handwriting will be indistinguishable from a natives, maybe even above average if its nice and legible.

At the end of the day, writing is its own skill, seperate from ability to read or speak or other language abilities. Consider that everyday, our modern world moves more and more to typing, making writing less and less important. This lowers everyone's handwriting ability, and the lines become blurrier and blurrier everyday (literally lol).

Even so, anyone willing to put in the hundreds of hours of practice can achieve calligraphy level beautiful handwriting-- english or chinese, native or foreigner(・̑◡・̑)

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It is almost impossible. As a native, I was still be required to have the practice in my senior high school by my teacher. Do not give up. Have your paractice patiently and regularly. Maybe 5 years or 8 years, you will find your own way to write every character. And when you find that your same Chinese characters look almost same, then you might begin to have native handwriting. For now, just keep your handwriting clear and neat.

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    This does not answer the question, which is about what handwriting from different types of learners looks like to native speakers.
    – Olle Linge
    Feb 8, 2021 at 10:02

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