Abstracted Characters

Stylized letters and characters are interesting to me, but how abstract can you get with Chinese characters? You kinda have to retain the strokes and radicals and stuff, right? Maybe not…

Abstract Characters

The characters represented above are 小燕画院.

Although the name is readable, it might take a bit longer to decipher than most Chinese text, even for native speakers. Have you ever spotted characters that have been taken even further into the abstract?


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. chelsea Says: July 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm


  2. My previous favourite was the old anti-drink-driving sign that had a 酒 drawn to resemble a cartoon drunkenly-driven car with a big, red “don’t do this!” diagonal slash through it. But that xiaoyan school of art is pretty awesome.

  3. Have you checked to see if anyone can decode 燕 without the Pinyin (or some other context) sitting right there? It’s cool, but I have a hard time believing it’s easy to parse without some other source of information–though I’m also perfectly willing to believe native Chinese (or fantastic second language learners) are better at it than me.

  4. Love this one!

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