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OneEye

Traditional and Simplified: together or separate?

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OneEye

I'd like to learn both forms of characters. My priority is on Simplified Chinese, but I'd like to be able to understand Traditional Chinese as well. My question is, should I focus on Simplified for now and learn Traditional later, or would it make more sense to learn both forms simultaneously? Any thoughts or anyone who has experience with this? Thanks in advance.

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Lu

I wouldn't learn simp first and trad later, I think the other way around is easier.

Perhaps you could concentrate on traditional, and take a quick look at the simplified of the characters you learn. When you have a certain basis in trad, you can spend some time on simp, I think leaning simp will be fairly easy by that time.

Good luck!

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gato
haton

Hello OneEye,

One aspect of the question is: how important is learning Chinese for you? and how much effort are you ready to put in?

If you view it as a hobby or a long-term investment to "speak Chinese", without specific needs to make business in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as is my case, I'd recommend starting with Simplified.

Simplified characters are significantly simpler. And learning Chinese in itself is so difficult that I'd definitely put learning Traditional characters in second priority.

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atitarev

The majority of adult Westerners have big difficulties in really mastering Chinese characters for a number of reasons, especially if they do it on their own but classes must also be oriented for writing characters. Writing Hanzi is a different skill from speaking, typing and even reading in Chinese, so unless you are passionate about learning to write characters and spend a lot of time doing it, the progress may be slow. For the same reason, Westerners often choose to learn or start with the simplified characters, even in Hong Kong, as I recently found out! Nothing will stop you to familiarise with the traditional or change to the traditional later. I managed to go through 2 volumes of New Practical Chinese Reader (vol. 2 and 3) using both simplified and traditional versions but for recognition only, I can't boast I mastered both scripts.

I started a simple reader I got from a Taiwanese colleague - the challenge is after a long usage of simplified characters, pinyin and horizontal to use traditional, zhuyin fuhao (bopomofo) and a vertical script.

It is possible to learn both but I don't know if you can do it over a long period.

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OneEye

gato,

Thanks for those links, they were interesting. I didn't mean to bother with another similar question.

I'm not planning on doing any business using Mandarin, but if I did it would probably be in mainland China. I also plan on traveling in China, but I may go to Hong Kong too. I think I will go with what seems to be the general consensus (from this and other threads) and learn Simplified first and then traditional later. That's what I've been doing, but I was just considering adding Traditional characters to the mix.

And yes, writing is the hard part. It's difficult to make myself sit down to practice writing. Maybe I'll start writing each character whenever it comes up for review in my SRS program. I can check myself against the stroke animations in Wenlin or ZDT. Of course, I've said this before, but I've never made myself do it. We'll see.

Thanks for the help!

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haton

Hello OneEye,

I sympathize with your difficulty in learning and retaining characters! :wall

I wrote myself 2 tools that might help you: a dictionary and a character training game, found at:

http://ehaton.blogspot.com

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wushijiao
should I focus on Simplified for now and learn Traditional later

Yes, I think.

I think that once you are to the point that you can read one or the other more or less with few problems, it isn't to hard to switch to read the other. Rather than worry too much about which script to learn, I think it is best to learn one really well, then make the switch.

For example, I used to have problems reading stuff in traditional, but after a while it became easy.

Similarly, I lent a book about the events in Beijing in 1989, in traditional, to one of my American friends in Shanghai, who primarily learned all his Chinese by himself on the Mainland and who could read newspapers in simplified with the help of a dictionary. At first he said the traditional was too hard. But I told him that he only needed a bit of practice. Eventually he said that it really wasn't as hard as he had first thought, and he even became a big fan of tradtional characters is the end.

However, I think that if you are in the process of learning characters (say, if you know 1000 or so) there really isn't much point in learning both systems at the same time. At least from my point of view, it seems like it would be too confusing.

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zozzen
I wouldn't learn simp first and trad later, I think the other way around is easier.

Perhaps you could concentrate on traditional, and take a quick look at the simplified of the characters you learn. When you have a certain basis in trad, you can spend some time on simp, I think leaning simp will be fairly easy by that time.

Did you try traditional first and simplified later? In my experience, it takes only a few weeks and so easy. ( :mrgreen: most chinese speakers should have either one experience only, so i just don't know which way is better)

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tanhql

to some native chinese, it's easy to make the switch. i learnt simplified chinese in school, and yet i can read taiwanese traditional subtitles without major problems (but writing is out of question, meaning i can only recognize traditional script, but can only write the simple and most common ones). but some of my friends cannot even read the simplest of traditional characters, to my surprise.

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Lu

I first learned traditional for two years, then came to Beijing and adjusted within weeks. Now I can read both without trouble, a fact that never ceases to impress people in Taiwan (and on the mainland as well, I suppose).

My writing is now so deteriorated that it's equally bad in both scripts.

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