Apart from the Indo-European languages, the Chinese script is the most used writing system on earth. It developed, just as the old Egyptian and Mesopotamian system, thousands of years ago out of images. It is an ideographic script. During the Chinese dynasties it had 40,000 to 50,000 characters. In our modern time the knowledge of 6,000 characters is considered to suffice in order to read newspapers or books. In recent times the characters have been simplified in order to suppress illiteracy.