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39degN

an article talking about simplified and traditional chinese

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bathrobe

That's quite an interesting passage posted by ala. It makes some telling points and gives some good examples.

On the overall, however, it relies on those few examples to make some mighty big claims about simplified characters.

For instance, the replacement of 頭 by 头 does look like a case where a meaningful character structure has been replaced with something less meaningful. But how big a loss is this? This is just one isolated case, and frankly, I think 头 is actually easier to learn than 頭, which compensates for the loss.

The use of 发 for both 發 and 髮, i.e., the use of one character to write two words, is arguably a step backwards when we really need to distinguish words, not confuse them together. But how common are cases like this? Yes, there are a few: 裡 and 里 become 里, etc., but are these cases sufficient to talk of a widespread loss of distinctiveness?

In other words, how many actual examples can the writer come up with to justify his broad generalisations towards the end of the passage?

This passage seems typical to me of the kinds of argument that are put forward by both camps, i.e., those in favour of and those against simplification.

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Ian_Lee
裡 and 里 become 里, etc., but are these cases sufficient to talk of a widespread loss of distinctiveness

This is a typical example to illustrate my suggestion that simplified script can apply to Putonghua but inapplicable on Cantonese (or probably other dialects).

In Putonghua, 裡 (inside) and 里 (mile) have identical pronounciation.

But in Cantonese, they have different pronounciations.

So how can simplified script be appropriately applied on Cantonese or other dialects?

Of course, other dialects are suppressed in Mainland politically.

But that is not the case in HK and Taiwan.

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Ian_Lee
This passage seems typical to me of the kinds of argument that are put forward by both camps, i.e., those in favour of and those against simplification.

Actually I have no qualm against simplified script provided that simplified script users don't assume their script is superior and force their standard upon traditional script users.

But that is exactly the attitude many posters hold which really piss me off.

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ala
Actually I have no qualm against simplified script provided that simplified script users don't assume their script is superior and force their standard upon traditional script users.

But that is exactly the attitude many posters hold which really piss me off.

Actually, I find it quite the opposite. Friends from Taiwan always snub us Mainlanders as "throwing away culture" because we use simplified characters. Personally, I prefer the traditional more too, because it is more suited for the Southern dialects (while the simplified is geared towards Mandarin only).

For example: 元 is used as a simplification for 遠 (远)、園 (园). But in Shanghainese (and other Wu dialects) 元 is ngyu (ngei) and VOICED, while 遠, 園, 袁 are all yu (ei) and voiceless. Another is the simplification of 達 (into 达; other similar characters 垯、鞑、跶) which in the Wu dialects do not rhyme with 大, but is instead a voiced 入声 dak.

The Mainland simplification strikes me as arrogantly Mandarin-centric; it gave little regard to the phonologies of Southern dialects and Sino-Japanese.

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nnt

As an outsider, I think the debate is as old as Chinese writing, and rather amusing.

Simplification has reduced a few strokes from several thousands of characters... and increased Chinese printing characters by the same number.

草书 is the most simplified script (every character reduced to 2 or three strokes...), the most aesthetic (sorry Ian Lee...), and the hardest to decipher (translation into printed CHT or CHS most often needed for those only accustomed to printed texts)

Classical texts are full of "used as" characters: 女 used as 汝, 現 used as 見, etc...So using 后 instead of 後, 发 instead of 發 is just...very traditional!

Contrary to pazu, I think taoists (not Laozi or Zhuangzi themselves, but the esoteric sects) would rather complexify characters to make them more mysterious and magic than simplify them.

Still, there should be a reason why this puzzling script has been going on for a few thousand years...

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bathrobe
I think taoists ... would rather complexify characters to make them more mysterious and magic than simplify them.

Still, there should be a reason why this puzzling script has been going on for a few thousand years...

Victory for the esoteric Daoists!

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hparade

yes, simplified characters are really based on mandarin, but do the traditional character serve all the dialects need and do a fair job? I think it's quite impossible to serve all dialect needs for a single script, just as to choose a standrad language for a nation comprised of many "dialects", and a world language for the world, it can't serve all needs, but we need to choose one for a standard, to facilitate communication

and I just wonder why should we take regard to the japanese sector when talking about our own script. :shock:

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Ian_Lee
and I just wonder why should we take regard to the japanese sector when talking about our own script.

Simplified script is your script and not my script. When it was announced and adopted in Mainland, the scholars in Taiwan and HK were never consulted.

There are so many business and cultrual interaction between Japan and HK/Taiwan (Japanese is the third language after English and Putonghua that HKers like to study). Why shouldn't it be taken into consideration?

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sunyata
There are so many business and cultrual interaction between Japan and HK/Taiwan (Japanese is the third language after English and Putonghua that HKers like to study). Why shouldn't it be taken into consideration?

If that is the case, then who is more "japanicized" - HK / Taiwan or Mainland? First you say Mainland is "japanicized" and now you say this - you are contradicting yourself.

As 39degN said, just because a strange Japanese practice is present in China, doesn't mean the country is "japanicized". And in any case, how many cases of people eating off of naked women have you personally seen? I have never heard of them or seen them. I do not deny that there may be a few cases, but that doesn't prove anything, besides the fact that Mainland is on the capitalist road.

From my personal experience, I would say Mainland Chinese are much more aware of China's interactions with Japan and the details of the Japanese invasion, while a lot of the HKers and Taiwanese are either oblivious to the facts or just don't care. So I really don't on what grounds you are calling Mainland "japanicized". You are welcome to elaborate though.

Also, you have to look at the simplification campaign, the Cultural revolution and the entire CCP rule from a historical perspective, and without the arrogant view that HK and Taiwan are somehow superior to mainland (which is the impression I get from your posts). Certainly, a lot of bad things happened and many mistakes were made, causing suffering to the people. But the government did what it could to help the people in need. It's easy to criticize their mistakes, but if you consider what China was going through at the time, it will become clear that the situation was very complicated. China was at the brink of being torn apart and colonized by Europe, the US, and later Japan. What did the Guomindang do about that? They saved their own arses and moved to Taiwan, taking a few national treasures along. Although the CCP did some pretty horrible things, I think they still deserve the praise for maintaining China's independence and dignity during a time when China could have easily fallen into the hands of foreigners, just like HK and Taiwan did to Britain and the US respectively.

And now that HK is part of China, it's too late to get pissed off. And what is there to be pissed about? You can still use traditional characters in HK - China didn't ban them. You can still speak Cantonese. Just because simplification may not work with all dialects, doesn't prove that it's useless.

Furthermore, Mandarin is a comparatively easy dialect to learn (fewer tones, fewer sound combinations), which is probably one of the reasons it was selected as the official dialect. Even if it's a foreign dialect to a lot of Chinese, there is a big practical value in having everyone being able to communicate with each other using the same dialect.

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Ian_Lee

Sunyata:

Now you have turned a linguistic argument into a political argument.

So you think that Mainland is not Japanized while Taiwan and HK are more westernized.

But let's see the truth.

Among which regimes throughout the 5,000 years of Chinese history has been most westernized?

PRC.

Why? Very simple.

Whichever regime has ever hoisted giant portraits of whiskered White westerners in the most sacred place on the most honored days?

Only PRC has done consecutively for decades.

Until recently, PRC hoisted up the giant portraits of a Jew (Marx), a Briton (Engels), a Russian (Lenin) and a Georgian (Stalin) in Tiananman Square on Labor Day and National Day year after year.

Isn't Mainland more westernized than HK and Taiwan?

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sunyata
Sunyata:

Now you have turned a linguistic argument into a political argument.

So you think that Mainland is not Japanized while Taiwan and HK are more westernized.

But let's see the truth.

Among which regimes throughout the 5,000 years of Chinese history has been most westernized?

PRC.

Why? Very simple.

Whichever regime has ever hoisted giant portraits of whiskered White westerners in the most sacred place on the most honored days?

Only PRC has done consecutively for decades.

Until recently, PRC hoisted up the giant portraits of a Jew (Marx), a Briton (Engels), a Russian (Lenin) and a Georgian (Stalin) in Tiananman Square on Labor Day and National Day year after year.

Isn't Mainland more westernized than HK and Taiwan?

Gosh, Ian, be a little more reasonable...Personally, I don't see how displaying a few portraits of (to use your nice phrase) "whiskered White westerners" proves that the PRC is Westernized??? What do Marx, Engels, and Lenin have to do with the modern Western capitalistic culture (which is what I am talking about)? Yeah, they are foreigners, they are also dead, and they are Communists, not "westerners." The reason the PRC displays those portraits is very well known by you - it has nothing to do with westernization, but is a symbolic gesture by the PRC government to prove that it is still Communist and to assert its power (although it is obvious that it is Communist only in name). Also, you somehow forgot to mention the biggest portrait of them all, which stays on Tiananmen all year long and is not just shown on holidays. Shall I remind you or can you guess yourself? That's right - ole' grandpa Mao. As far as I know, Mao is not a "whiskered white westerner" and he is the one who gets much more respect than all those 4 whiskered bastards you were talking about combined. They are merely considered the founding fathers of Communism (Marx & Engels) and those who introduced Communism to China (Lenin and later Stalin).

Now, lets talk about HK and Taiwan. HK has been a British colony for 99 years. Your education system was British, as well as most other things - transportation system, government system, banking system - you got it all from the Brits. The Opium Wars and what Britain did to China was mentioned very briefly (taking the blame away from Britain) in the HK history textbooks under the Brits. Despite all this, some HKers are still proud that they were under British rule... :conf

As for Taiwan - another easy target for the US to build a military base (similar to South Korea, the Phillippines, Japan).

What I am trying to say is - both the HK and Taiwan economies have largely been in the hands of foreigners. Both HK and Taiwan were exposed to Western culture (read - NOT communist) and capitalism early on, when compared to Mainland.

Sadly, the same thing is now slowly happening in the PRC. But nevertheless, HK and Taiwan are way ahead of Mainland in terms of Westernization...

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Ian_Lee

Sunyata:

Now I get confused about your twisted logic.

they are Communists, not "westerners."

Hmmm.....So do you mean Marx was not a Jew and Engels not a Briton? Only since today do I know that Communists can only be Orientals. Isn't that racial profiling?

The Opium Wars and what Britain did to China was mentioned very briefly (taking the blame away from Britain) in the HK history textbooks under the Brits.

Pls tell me which textbook in Chinese History class in Pre-'97 HK did not mention Opium War? Of course I know more than you do about Opium War in addition to Anti-Rightist Campaign and Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.

Your education system was British, as well as most other things - transportation system, government system, banking system - you got it all from the Brits.

Well your CCP princelings love HK's Briton-founded financial system. Otherwise why would all those SOEs rush to HK's bourse for listing? Why would Zhu Rongji's daughter, Li Peng's son work in HK's banking industry?

And of course, I agree that Mainland's government system is better. A county Party Secretary couple in Guangdong with RMB 4,000/month income can amass HK$20 million as a latest trial in HK revealed. Such "get-rich fast" system is the envy of many government leaders in the developing world.

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sunyata

Ian_Lee,

First of all, please don't quote me out of context - that's not cool. If you disagree with what I say - fine, but don't misquote me to make yourself look victorious or whatever.

Obviously, if you read my post carefully, I did not say that only Orientals can be Communists...what are you talking about? You seem to understand English well, so I don't see what led you to make that absurd conclusion.

Secondly, stop being arrogant. I am very happy for you that you are so satisfied with your level of knowledge of Chinese history, language and culture. I am sure you have spent a lot of your youth years studying hard and respect your education. That does not mean, however, that all your opinions are correct and ultimately true for everyone.

As for the Opium War - again, please read my post carefully or just don't bother responding. I don't see a point in arguing if you are misquoting me all over the place. I did NOT say that the Opium Wars were not mentioned. I said they were mentioned, but very briefly and portrayed the event as if it wasn't Britain's fault. I am not sure of the exact name of the texbook, but I discovered this in a conversation with a few HK natives.

Lastly, I just want to let you know that your superiority complex is excessively apparent from your posts. It's too bad you won't take a lighter stance on Mainland, but that's your own opinion and problem. You seem to have the typical hateful and bashful attitude of some HK people towards the Mainland, which is sad.

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hparade

your script? mine? yes, i know some HKers like to distinguish that so proudly, however, I live in HK too... and not a new comer to HK to exploit its social welfare system... :roll:

also, I don't really hate or pro which character set, just try to be more balanced on both sides, and I suggest people to learn both

yes, when making the simplifications, I do think HK and tawian users/ scholars should be consulted, as long as all chinese users all over the world, but not japanese. they just borrowed our characters to serve their own language need, and they have the right to do whatever change with them, and so as we chinese users to do changes on our own script, it's none of japanese business, would they consult us if they want to make changes to their script? sure they can, but not necessary, so as we.

so many interactions doesn't constitude enough a need to "consult" them when talking about own script/language change

do the koreans need to consult us/ japanese when they stop using chinese characters?? they sure have interactions, but i would say none of our business, if we want to interact with them, we need to learn their language, whatever changes they've made, so as they

sunyata you said it very well, the term "Japanized" is quite odd, I really think china is not trying be to Japan, just because they have the same old chinese culture thing in their mordern culture, I do know a lot people in HK / Taiwan are so in love with Japan.... :wink:

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Tei
As for Taiwan - another easy target for the US to build a military base (similar to South Korea, the Phillippines, Japan).

What I am trying to say is - both the HK and Taiwan economies have largely been in the hands of foreigners. Both HK and Taiwan were exposed to Western culture (read - NOT communist) and capitalism early on, when compared to Mainland.

I wouldn't say Taiwan was a military base for the US but more of a base for KMT to regroup and perhaps figure out a way to regain the mainland. The only westerners that ever had a base on Taiwan was the Dutch. I agree Taiwan's economy was greatly influenced by foreigners. Japan, for the most part, developed Taiwan's industrial structure which facilitated its economic growth. I do not see HK and Taiwan being exposed to Western culture far earlier than the Mainland. These states all relate to each other. HK and Taiwan acted as ports for the Mainland's exposure. The Mainland also had direct exposure from Russia also.

As for the topic. Simplification has always existed in history as someone already pointed out. I am not against it, however, I do not like PRC's style of simplifying. Many of the traditional characters help me to understand their meaning by using the radicals. Some simplified characters are so off that I can not figure them out by looking at parts of the character. Also, some simplification I find a bit useless and ugly. Some simplification have their advantages and are even used now. The "shen" in "shenme" or "what" is simplified now. The "tai" in Taiwan is simplified now. I never thought about other simplification effecting dialects, but now that idea has been exposed to me. I find it interesting. Thanks for bringing it up.

Sorry if some of this seems a bit incoherant. I'm just taking a break from homework. Have a nice day.[/code]

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bathrobe

Everything is coming out of the woodwork now! And Chinese ethnic pride seems to be at the base of it all again.

There seems to be an unconscious attitude that China being influenced by other cultures is a bad thing. I'd like to ask:

* Since when was Westernisation a bad thing?

* Since when was Japanisation a bad thing?

* Apart from the ethnic pride thing, do purely Chinese outcomes always produce the best results?

(I recall in my own experience a Chinese student in Beijing lamenting that the Forbidden City wasn't designed by a Chinese. I found this an extraodinary outlook on things. I'm not sure of the facts of the case -- maybe it was designed by a non-Chinese, maybe it wasn't -- but does it matter? Surely it is the mark of a great culture that it can draw on the talent of the whole world, not merely its own backyard.)

Leave out all the ethnic pride and maybe you could start talking sense!

----------------

On a similar vein, I think Hparade is wrong about Japanese and Korean. Since they both use Chinese characters, their efforts should at least be referred to, if not taken up. Why put blinkers on yourself?

Indeed, I would humbly submit that the Japanese approach to simplification, flawed though it may be, was not a bad one. At least it provides a moderate version that could serve as a model intermediate between the radical reforms of the Mainland and the dyed-in-the-wool resistance of HK/TW. (By this, I don't mean copy their simplifications, but their approach might be useful).

Before you come with your kneejerk reaction that 'we're Chinese, they've got nothing to do with us', think about it. The Japanese may not consult with the Chinese about simplification, but they do consult with the Chinese tradition, which is one that they share in common with China.

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ala
On a similar vein, I think Hparade is wrong about Japanese and Korean. Since they both use Chinese characters, their efforts should at least be referred to, if not taken up. Why put blinkers on yourself?

Indeed, I would humbly submit that the Japanese approach to simplification, flawed though it may be, was not a bad one. At least it provides a moderate version that could serve as a model intermediate between the radical reforms of the Mainland and the dyed-in-the-wool resistance of HK/TW. (By this, I don't mean copy their simplifications, but their approach might be useful).

Before you come with your kneejerk reaction that 'we're Chinese, they've got nothing to do with us', think about it. The Japanese may not consult with the Chinese about simplification, but they do consult with the Chinese tradition, which is one that they share in common with China.

Exactly. Isn't it also true that the character simplification 国 was a collaborative one between Chinese and Japanese scholars? Some consultation was actually made during the simplification of both nations' scripts, although it was on a very informal and mostly uncollaborative setting.

Once again, the Japanese and others should be consulted, because Chinese characters are part of the entire East Asian tradition. And there ARE GOOD PRACTICAL reasons for collaboration as well. The excessive ethnic Chinese pride bewilders me, and I'm a Mainlander raised with anti-Japanese education.

==

bathrobe: the patronizing tone is getting old.

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bathrobe
bathrobe: the patronizing tone is getting old.
Am I being patronising? Hmmm... I guess I might be a little 'preachy'....

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hparade

i guess there's not much ethnic pride in my post, just talking about own script change for our own use, we don't instruct other "chinese character users" to follow, they use the characters in their own way, and the japanese made their simplifications earlier than ccp, probably they didn 't make any consultations to the chinese, yes, they do "consult" the chinese tradition, but hadn't the ccp? and I think the ccp did consult the japanese simplification though, :roll:

and afterall, they ain't going to use our simplified srcript? are they?? :conf

the koreans abandoned the chinese script wholly, and so as the vietnamese, did they consult the chinese??

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nnt

Here are the lists of Japanese simplifications in 1946 and 1949 (China was not yet PRC at that time...):

http://www.sungwh.freeserve.co.uk/hanzi/j-s.htm

As you see, many Chinese simplified characters used nowadays are in these 2 lists:

医 醫 ; 欧 歐 ; 会 會 ; 学 學 ; 旧 舊 ; 号 號 ; 辞 辭 ; 双 雙 ; 台 臺 ; 虫 蟲 ; 並 竝 ; 宝 寶 ; 国 國 ; 来 來 ; 与 與

etc...

Some of the characters in the two lists were already traditional Chinese simplified characters.

Unicode standardization at international levels do lead to consultations:

http://www.unicode.org/

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