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zozzen

The Revival of Traditional Characters is Coming?

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amego

Hopefully...我喜歡繁體字!

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Long Pan

China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou gives his view about 繁体字 vs 简体字

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2008-03/22/content_6558770.htm

"The standoff between the two camps is not as extensive as it appears to be. By one count, of the 2,000 most common Chinese characters, 1,369 share the same forms; out of the 631 with different strokes, only 178 characters need special memorization as the rest are simplified at the root form and are applied systematically. (...) The obstacles are the few words for one form that do not correspond to the other. For example, the fanti "fa" in toufa (hair) is different from "fa" in facai (be rich), but the jianti character is the same. (...) "Personally, I feel fanti is more beautiful as the ideogram is closer to the original picture. I'm no calligrapher, but reading fanti enhances my appreciation of my native language, as it is written. That, however, raises the bar for literacy as it takes more effort to learn the extra strokes. Jianti, though standardized in the 1950s, can be traced back hundreds of years to the cursive form of handwriting and, some, to Japanese Kanji."

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Huang Jialuo

I personally think less strokes make it harder to memorize. Last semester, I memorized a 58(give or take a few) stroked character and found it much easier to learn than other much less stroked characters, especially curvy ones.. I LOVE 繁體字 :mrgreen:

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roddy

Merging Long Pan's post with the latest 'traditional / simplified' discussion.

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ABCinChina

China seems more adaptable than Taiwan, when it comes to these types of matters, but traditional characters will never happen in my opinion because it's like going back a step. The reason I say China is more adaptable is that Taiwan is still stuck in those old days where they refuse to change certain things (hanyu pinyin, reading from up to down) for the better just to be different from China. But it is more likely that China will go back to Traditional than Taiwan will change to Simplified.

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Lu
Taiwan is still stuck in those old days where they refuse to change certain things (hanyu pinyin, reading from up to down) for the better just to be different from China.
Taipei at least uses pinyin on official signs rather consistently, and now that Ma is to be president perhaps he will expand this policy (one can hope...). Writing from left to right is widely used, not sure why you think there is any reluctancy there. Also not sure why writing from left to right would be better somehow that up to down.

Simplified characters are also not uncommon, as someone else on this thread has noted, many simplified characters have a long history in writing, and they are still used in writing in Taiwan.

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zozzen

if the gov't has to make a public consultation, any change on these core cultural things is difficult. From certain perspective i think that taiwanese is very adaptable, so willing to change the whole working political system to embrace the new value.

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ABCinChina

A lot of books printed in Taipei that I wanted to read was in the up to down, right to left format. Also, some magazines that I was trying to read were the same. I guess I can get used to it though...

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atitarev

Will the question about "which place is more resistant to the introduction/spread of the simplified Chinese characters (Taiwan or Hong Kong" cause a stir? :mrgreen:

To me, it seems for Taiwan is not a big issue, since there is no attempt to spread simplified characters and for learners who prefer traditional to simplified, it's a place where they can learn the complex script. For Hong Kong, it's not just a matter of general usage but is it a matter of pride? HKers seem to be very sensitive about this matter.

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zozzen

simplified character causes a stir in hong kong............? not really.

It has spread for more than a decade and it's been common among students to boost up writing speed in public exams. I've never heard that mass media has rejected the idea to educate young kids with simplified characters too. And no one would blame you if you were using simplified characters in a logo or banner.

What would be sensitive is to make either one set of characters compulsory and exclusive. If the gov't is going to make traditional characters as the ONLY official characters, I'm sure it will raise huge controversy. (Traditional characters, just like Cantonese, have no official status in Hong Kong statute law. ) The black-or-white dichotomy doesn't apply so well in this issue. :wink:

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atitarev

I also heard that foreign students in HK use simplified when learning Mandarin, must be different when they learn Cantonese, not sure.

What is said before must be more relevant to Taiwan: see the 2nd section:

A quote from Wikipedia:

Pro-Simplified characters

* Proponents argue that many minds link simplified characters with the idea of communism and traditional characters with anticommunism or at least "non-communism". Thus the political implications and affiliations of the writing systems are seen by some as the emotional impetus for the debate. This view interprets most of the back-and-forth debate on the merits of the system, ultimately, as rationalizations.

Pro-Traditional characters

* Some teachers in areas where traditional Chinese characters are used often scold students who use simplified characters, even to the extent of calling them "uneducated". This, in addition to other matters, has enforced a prejudice held by some traditional Chinese character users that traditional Chinese is for the educated and cultured, while simplified Chinese is for the illiterate, dumb, even the barbaric. In Taiwan, simplified characters have been regarded as "Communist" and are studiously avoided.

Despite being a supporter of SC, I agree that there is a point in this. Wikipedia (an other free of censorship sites) being blocked in China makes it closer to the truth - "Free content - traditional, censored - simplified". :( It's not always the case but you see my point. This also works against the simplified characters - you want to read uncensored Chinese - must know the traditional script.

...The black-or-white dichotomy doesn't apply so well in this issue. :wink:
The divide is still quite clear and is more political rather than pure linguistic.

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southerner

It's sad indeed, that simplified characters have to come to be associated with meanings, made of the Beijing dictatorship regime. I'm not in favour of traditional characters, as I believe in the philosophy of simplicity being beautiful. Don't argue with me over this. That's the way it is. It's also a myth, that Chinese culture is better preserved in Taiwan, in evidence with the use of traditional characters. It may be true, when they revive the very earliest form of characters, which is, I don't know, 甲骨文, perhaps. Boy, it would be fun if it can be done though.

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Xi'Er Dun

I definately agree with those in favour of Traditional Characters Fantizi 繁體字, as Traditional Characters have a history of about four thousand years I'm told, as most Simpflified Characters Jiantizi 简体字 only have a history of about fifty years. Traditional Characters especially in Classical Chinese give much better clused to their stories of being, their meainings and origins and are culturally significant. However, quite a few Simplified Characterd used today in the PRC have their origins as several hundred year old variant forms used in handwriting.

Also, aren't Mainland Chinese school students taught how to read and recognise Traditional Characters but not how to write them, and at in high school and university levels they can study Classical Chinese and texts in which their learn to read and write Traditional Characters as well as when they take classes in calligraphy Shufa. However, Taiwanese students are only taught the true Traditional Characters and must learn to read Simplified at a higher level of education. A Comparison can be drawn in Japan and North and South Korea, in Japan, school students are taught to use the Japanese post-war simplifications, the Shinjitai 新字体, (which some of these simpflications even then were used in pre-war writings or even hundreds of years earlier) but also I believe to read and recognise the pre-war more complex or Traditional Kanji Kyuujitai 舊字體 which are pure Traditional Chinese Characters like used in Taiwan. In South Korea, students are taught pure Traditional Characters known as Hanja 漢字, and like in Japan, are taught about just over 2000 of them. (Pre-war Japanese used about 6000 Kanji Characters 漢字 for daily use.) (I've heard that some mainland Chinese students by university level can write and recognise about 7000 maybe if they have studied Chinese Classics, when all that is needed for daily use is just over 3000) Rarely known, are variant simplified forms of Korean Hanja 漢字 which also exist in rare writing. In North Korea, they supposedly have abandoned the use of Chinese Characters, but some sources still suggest that they still teach them in schools.

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imron
as Traditional Characters have a history of about four thousand years I'm told
You've been told wrong. They have a history of about two thousand years, and if you want to claim that seal script and and oracle bone characters should be included as part of the history of Traditional characters, then same is equally true of Simplified characters. Simplified characters were officially standardised by the PRC in 1956, however discussion on simplification had been going on in Chinese society since the end of the Qing dynasty.

Some simplified characters date back as early as the Qin dynasty (i.e. over 2,000 years).

I don't think Mainland students are explicitly taught to read Traditional characters, however it's not too difficult to pick them up, especially due to exposure to Hong Kong/Taiwanese music and films. Personally, I've never learnt Traditional characters, but I can usually read them easily enough.

Also, why label them "pure" or "true" Traditional characters? Are there also un-pure Traditional ones? Or is your meaning that Simplifed characters are somehow not pure Chinese? In which case surely the same is true of Traditional characters which were not the first form of Chinese writing either :roll:

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skylee

I think a main point of Xi'Er Dun's post is to bring out "A Comparison can be drawn in Japan and North and South Korea" ......

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renzhe

The main reason for the simplification was to increase literacy within the population, which was (and still is) largely rural. This has worked really well, though it is difficult to determine how much of it was due to the simplification itself and how much due to improved schooling.

It is true that those people who want to read classical literature have more characters to read, but these people already know over 5000 characters and are highly literate anyway so it's not that difficult for them. The goal was to make it easier for the illiterate population (much of which is not even Chinese and learns Chinese as a second language) to reach a basic standard of literacy.

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mxian

Learning Chinese is extremely difficult. Yet a foreigner still manages to learn BOTH traditional and simplified characters in order to read them in Taiwan and on mainland, in old literature and newspapers. If foreigners can do this, for a native Chinese who already knows the language, this is a piece of cake! I don't see any problems there.

I think this issue is raised with more political intention than cultural goodwill. It will help people to have something to think about, to argue, to debate on, and forget for a while about oil prices, inflation, high food costs, low income, pollution, etc. :)

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Insula Formosa

The ideal and realistic future would be the coexistance of two scripts.

Traditional scripts would continue to be used officialy in Taiwan and HK. In Mainland China, students would be taught traditional scripts as a compulsory subject, for say, one hour a week, which would make almost everyone fully literate in traditional scripts within a generation. Simplified characters would still be used in everyday life and official scripts for practical reasons, but individuals would have full liberty to use traditional scripts when they want to(printing books, on the web, etc), as well as full access to materials printed in HK or Taiwan. This way, traditional scripts would be able to survive throughout the future.

Of course what I would dream to see is that PRC adopts traditional characters and abandon simplified ones, but I know that it would not happen, at least not anytime soon.

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Insula Formosa

That's interesting, Hoffman. But in this thread we're not talking about pros and cons for traditional/simplified characters. I'm sure we have other threads for that. We're simply talking about whether traditional characters will be revived in the PRC, and if so to what degree.

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