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Kame Sennin

Will Hanzi/Kanji ever be furtherly simplified?

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Kame Sennin

Through the history, there have been several simplification phases, both in Japan and China.

They are similar, but they also differ.

Simplifications were done to increase literacy. Also, since China is now rapidly developing, having traditional characters standardized instead of simplified ones would probably be much harder for communication with the rest of the world, especially in industry and technology world.

So, I would like to hear your opinions and comments on the following questions:

Do you think China will have another hanzi simplification in let's say the next 100 years?

-> If yes, do you think it will be another massive simplification like in the year 1949, or a minor one?

Do you think there's even need for further simplifications?

Do you think some hanzi might become outdated in the following years?

Would you like China to have another simplification somewhere in the following 50 years?

-> If yes, would you like it to be a minor one (to simplify all those hanzi that are complex, but remained unsimplified until today), or a massive one?

Same questions about Japan and future simplifications of kanji.

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Personally, I wouldn't like further simplifications in China or Japan. I think that any further simplifications would somewhat be destroying their culture, and wouldn't make sense.

I know that I'm not a native Chinese or Japanese, so I don't know what it is like to constantly be in an environment of lots of complex characters, but since Japan and China are both very powerful countries now, I think that hanzis/kanjis surely aren't difficult to the point where one couldn't establish normal communication.

As I have noticed, Japanese have started replacing kanji forms of many words with simply kana forms. Therefore, I don't think Japan will make further simplifications.

China has already made a drastic simplification, and I guess it has been of great help in the past 50+ years. I only think China might simplify those remaining hanzi that weren't simplified (only those that are complex!).

However, as I said, I wouldn't like further simplifications. Having traditional and simplified sets right now, and the choice to choose which one to study (first) is more than enough.

And that makes me more than glad.

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renzhe

I don't think it will happen. The second round of simplifications proved unpopular and resulted in confusion and was soon retracted.

What I think will likely happen, though, is that there will be a trend towards using characters phonetically, like it is done for many foreign loan words.

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Kame Sennin

Hmm I didn't know there was a rejected simplification in the Chinese history...

Should Chinese learners avoid learning those characters?

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Lu

Yes, they should avoid it. But you'll only find those simplifications if you go looking for them very hard, so no need to be watch out for them in your studies.

I doubt there will be another round of simplifications. There might be simplifications of a few individual characters through usage, but even that will probably be very limited.

I also doubt that the simplified characters as they are now had any real impact on literacy. Characters take a lot of time to learn, but simplified characters don't seem to be any easier to learn than traditional. Taiwan and Hong Kong, that use traditional, have high levels of literacy. Seems access to and quality of education is a more important factor here.

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Kame Sennin

Hmm that's really interesting.

Anyway, it's really nice that traditional Chinese is still 'widely' in use.

Thank you for your answer, Lu!

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Hofmann

Even though they don't want to admit it, they know that simplification did next to nothing to increase literacy. Better education did most of it. I would be surprised if there was another round of simplification.

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renzhe

For all intents and purposes, the second round of simplification is considered incorrect now, and you'll never see them.

As for how useful simplifications are for learning, there has been no study I'm aware of, and accounts will differ based on what the person you're talking to learned first. There was a long thread on this forum where this was debated ad nauseam. I think they are useful, since their main motive was to get vast masses of illiterate rural population to a workable standard of literacy (1000 most common characters or so), not to teach little geniuses in high-tech urban schools to read classical literature. With this in mind, learning 从 and 无 and 才 seems like a good idea compared to 從 and 無 and 纔, especially if you're going to write them thousands of times. Considering this, it seemed to work well historically. How useful it is today is another topic, and I really don't want to open up this can of worms again.

As for the spread of traditional characters, they are used almost exclusively in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, while simplified characters are used almost exclusively in the mainland and Singapore. They are also standard in Malaysia. So the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population worldwide actually uses simplified characters, for better or worse.

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Kame Sennin

Hofmann and renzhe: thank you for replies. I appreciate them.

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HolyShazam

I trust renzhe when he said this topic has been debated endlessly. I personally hate simplified characters, for a variety of reasons, but there's really no use in getting into all of the reasons now.

There is really no need for another round of simplification now, with the advent of computers, and less and less people really needing to write out Chinese characters, I wish that China would switch back to traditional, but I know that's never going to happen. I think a fully romanized version of Chinese writing, using Hanyu pinyin, might be technically possible, but you would run into so many problems that it wouldn't be worth the hassle.

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ladyjove

Just some food for thought... but does anyone think that the now widespread use of computers and related character representations for typing will influence the answer to this question?

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mucker69

@ladylove

that's an interesting point. I do definately feel that the computer will have a strong effect on hanzi. People may become dependent and maybe even forget how to write certain characters by hand.

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flameproof
that's an interesting point. I do definately feel that the computer will have a strong effect on hanzi. People may become dependent and maybe even forget how to write certain characters by hand.

Any Chinese teacher can confirm that. But hand writing is not really important anyway just considering how much I write in English by hand.

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Kame Sennin

Hmm it's a sad thought.

There is beauty in writing kanji/hanzi by hand.

It would be sad if that would be forgotten...

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