What’s a word?
Funny question, isn’t it. A word is the thing in a text that stands between two spaces.
But as you know,in Chinese languages you don’t write spaces. And if you caught up with my introduction, the structure of a text and how we look at it differ quite a bit from the alphabetical languages we’re all so used to.
Now let’s dig deeper into the world of “words” – or 字 zi6 – shall we?
We in bilingual schools end up with a lot of inconsistencies in what a ‘word’ designates in Chinese writing and speech – though no real confusion – especially when writing essays. I don’t know about foreign schools, but our exams always had clear word limits: “around 800 words” for an essay, or maybe 200 for a shorter question.