Written Chinese (Chinese: 中文; pinyin: zhōngwén) comprises Chinese characters used to represent the Chinese language. Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Rather, the writing system is roughly logosyllabic; that is, a character generally represents one syllable of spoken Chinese and may be a word on its own or a part of a polysyllabic word. The characters themselves are often composed of parts that may represent physical objects, abstract notions, or pronunciation. Literacy requires the memorization of a great number of characters: educated Chinese know about 4,000. The large number of Chinese characters has in part led to the adoption of Western alphabets or other complementary systems as auxiliary means of representing Chinese.