Who created Chinese Characters? This question is for facts or historical records, not opinions. It may not be created by one person at one time, because if so, why are there so many repeated characters 通假字 or 异体字 that seem unnecessary?

For example:


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  • 1
    I'm one of the downvoters. "Who created Chinese characters" is not a valid question - it's like asking "Who created Chinese cuisine" or "Who created Chinese culture". There is no "Who", it was a joint effort of all the people in the past. There's only a few historically attested individuals who have created, or majorly contributed to the creation of, a script, such as Sejong for Hangeul, Yeli Renrong for Tangut.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:30
  • The second part of the question ("because if so, why are there so many repeated characters") is also a non sequitur.
    – dROOOze
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:33

4 Answers 4


Chinese characters did not all appear at once, it took countless authors, and hundreds of years to accumulate all the characters, and these characters kept evolving into today's modern Chinese characters

I am pretty sure 仓颉造字 is a myth. If such a person existed, the so-called "造字" (create characters) might just be referring to systemizing the accumulated Chinese characters at the time

The existence of 通假字 and 异体字 suggests different authors' contributions. For example, in the Warring States period, different states might write the same word differently

  • 有史书记载的创造或编辑汉字的人,除了程邈(小篆,隶书)还有谁?(有具体姓名的)?
    – PdotWang
    Aug 30, 2023 at 14:07

Cang Jie is just a mythical person.

Chinese characters started as pictograms which is pretty much like all other languages, and that took hundreds if not thousands of years. Then throughout the course of history, huge numbers of new characters emerged. So it's not possible that one single person created all the Chinese characters we have today.

  • 有史书记载的创造或编辑汉字的人,除了程邈(小篆,隶书)还有谁?(有具体姓名的)?
    – PdotWang
    Aug 30, 2023 at 14:07
  • 蒙恬是其中一個(為甚麼要寫這麼多字?) Sep 3, 2023 at 7:25

In my opinion, 通假字 is actually another character that is borrowed to mean a thing at the time when the character representing the meaning is not created.

While 异体字 is probably a derivation of the same character written slightly differently by some authors in the past, it developed to become two "separate" characters.

So in conclusion the guy creating the Chinese characters did not create excess characters, but in the exact opposite, he created inadequate characters.

However, the problem of whether ChangJie invented the Chinese characters, is the job of historians, not linguists. Personally I don't think he actually existed, as he was said to have 4 eyes.

  • Would you please provide some examples or references for 通假字 and 异体字?
    – PdotWang
    Aug 31, 2023 at 13:58
  • @PdotWang, I'm assuming you are not a native language user, or else Wikipedia has provided you with both pages in Chinese. In English, I can give you a translation of the info in a new answer, pls take a look.
    – Henryc17
    Sep 1, 2023 at 9:59

From Wikipedia:通假字 and Wikipedia:异体字:

通假字:The word actually existed but the writer borrowed another word to mean the same thing for some reason

假借字:The word does not exist in the first place. And because of avoiding trouble, the writer decided to use an invented word instead of inventing a new one.

异体字:People in the past tended to simplify the writing of a word, in order to save ink. So the two or more kind of words were invented.

From above, we can see a lot of people are tending to rememebr a word by its SOUND instead of their APPEARENCE. You can google it for more info.

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