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Chinese characters and their prevalence in Asia
Chinese characters have been adopted by peoples whose languages differ significantly from the Chinese language. Chinese characters were or are still being used in Korean, Japan and Vietnam.
Until the establishment of the Korean alphabet with only 24 letters in 1446 Chinese characters were used in South Korea ( korean: "hanjia"). The single letters are being combined to form syllables.
Though Chinese characters are still used in scientific publications, Korean names, company or restaurant names. Korean pupils still learn about 1700 Chinese characters at school but in practice they seldom use them and therefore often forget them. About 70 % of the entries in a Korean dictionary are of Chinese origin and the pronunciation of many Korean words is similar to the correspondent Chinese word.
Japan uses two alphabets: Hiragana, a phonetic alphabet of 46 letters to write Japanese words, Katagana, a phonetic alphabet of 46 letters to write words, adopted from western languages and western names. In addition about 1500 Chinese characters, partly simplified, are in use today.