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m.ellison

China to issue new list of simplified Chinese characters

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atitarev

Since most authors and commentators come from Taiwan/Hong Kong, the comments have the same angles, the logic of what is good and seems correct usually comes from their knowledge and experience with traditional characters.

If I get used to see a symbol of a house with windows, I get used to it. Then, if windows are removed from the symbol, I would feel that something is missing. Uh-oh, someone has broken the culture. If I know that that the new symbol means house and is the right symbol, I am not worried about missing windows, I know the meaning of the symbol and it takes less time to draw it.

The important and practical factor is the ratio of jiantizi vs fantizi. Here's some from an article I read recently: 95% of PRC population (1.3 bln) use jiantizi only. 4% are comfortable with both, 1% use fantizi only. Overseas communities are changing, it's mixed now. Taiwan and Hong Kong are the strongholds of fantizi. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore use jiantizi in education and the official Chinese media. Whether this ratio will change, I don't know.

Edited by atitarev

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gato
There is a very good debate going on in the New York Times on the merits of traditional characters versus simplified characters:

The Chinese Language, Ever Evolving

Some quotes from the two opponents of simplification on the New York Times site:

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/chinese-language-ever-evolving/?apage=2#eileen

Many simplified characters are adaptations from common usage in Chinese cursive script; on the other hand, the inability to read traditional characters is to close oneself off to much of the Chinese cultural legacy — its history and arts — before the 1950s.

The advantage of traditional characters is that they offer a stronger and richer connection with the history of the Chinese language. The simplified writing system has .... [made] it more difficult for people to access classical texts in their full richness.

The argument that simplification cuts the Chinese off from classical text isn't really true. Classical text is written in classical Chinese (文言文). Modern Chinese is based on spoken Mandarin. The two have very different vocabulary and grammar. Being able to read traditional Chinese characters alone does not enable one to read classical Chinese. You actually have to learn classical Chinese, which will take many years of work. Learning to read traditional characters, on the hand, is easy for someone who already knows the simplified form. It takes just a few hours of learning the conversion system and practice.

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ChristopherB

Are there any updates yet on this revised set? I wonder if it would immediately render books like Heisig's outdated.

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wushijiao

I don't know if this is exactly what you meant, but the Educational Department did put out an Opinion (《通用规范汉字表》) for public consultation, in which 44 characters might be slightly modified. This modification has been deemed/mocked by sum to be a type of "plastic surgery".

I can't say that I've read through the opinion yet, but I did read the summary of the controversy surrounding it below:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2009-08/25/content_11938371.htm

Edited by wushijiao

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atitarev
The argument that simplification cuts the Chinese off from classical text isn't really true. Classical text is written in classical Chinese (文言文). Modern Chinese is based on spoken Mandarin. The two have very different vocabulary and grammar. Being able to read traditional Chinese characters alone does not enable one to read classical Chinese. You actually have to learn classical Chinese, which will take many years of work. Learning to read traditional characters, on the hand, is easy for someone who already knows the simplified form. It takes just a few hours of learning the conversion system and practice.

Besides, all classical texts are now in electronic form, so whether they are in fantizi or jiantizi is irrelevant. I also have an old textbook from China teaching 文言文 using jiantizi.

Wushijiao, is there a list of those characters? Are they available on standard IME's? I heard 44 hanzi are of family names but there are a few more, which were used by public but previously not allowed to use officially. Interesting that the whole idea is not so much prescriptive (what you should) but descriptive (the actual use in mainland China) this time around. Also, the opposition to reintroduction of fantizi in PRC is based on practical, not ideological reasons. It's too hard, too much effort required, etc.

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wushijiao
Wushijiao, is there a list of those characters?

I can't seem to find a great chart, but this one seems the best I can find.

It seems that the most significant changes will be in the characters 杀 条, which will look a bit woody-ier, with a 木 below them.

But, 90% of netizens were against the changes in a Sina poll, so I don't see this getting passed.

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xianhua

"It takes just a few hours of learning the conversion system"

Hi Gato, can you recommened any resources for learning about the conversion system? I'd love to know what all those KTV songs are going on about!

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gato

Hi Gato, can you recommened any resources for learning about the conversion system?

See here:

http://www.stlcls.org/s-words/Simplified_word.htm

简化字总表

Learn Table 2 first, then Table 1. I think you would then easily to be able to recognize the 繁体字 equivalent for the 简体字 you already know.

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renzhe
Hi Gato, can you recommened any resources for learning about the conversion system? I'd love to know what all those KTV songs are going on about!

Try this thread, where the characters are already formatted for flashcard programs.

IF you are completely comfortable with one of the standards (simplified or traditional), it will probably take you a month or two of flashcarding until you're comfortable with the other one.

To clarify, the conversion is not a problem, as it's quite apparent that 说 = 說. This sort of stuff is easy, as gato wrote.

The problem are the characters where the simplification is not obvious, for example: 龙 = 龍, or 听 = 聽, which is why you have to memorise some of the differences, which you can find in the links gato and I have posted (it's the same info, only different formats).

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Hofmann

A lot of opponents of Simplified characters don't really know what they're arguing about. A lot of them don't actually oppose simplification, but oppose the current Simplified character set. A lot of them don't know how to argue against the current Simplified character set so that they don't look like cultural purists, elitists, or conservatives.

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meah*

Well, the CCP government have been changing the Chinese script several times already, (not to mention the catastrophic「二簡」, the second round simplification) so it is not really a surprise that they are at it once again:mrgreen:. And why would people care at all when they arbitrary change the script every 20 years or so on dubious grounds? I think this is going to be ignored, people are not really interested in this, and some quite fed up with "script reforms" being forced upon them. China ought to use the relatively "correct" "traditional characters" (as Taiwan does) as standard. Of course variants/simplifications will/can be used in some handwriting. But to be realistic, I don't think this will happen (probably never). :roll:

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atitarev

Another cry how China should be saved from a catastrophe or from itself? Mind you, the simplified script is understood by 99% of (educated) Chinese population in China and used as a preferred script by 95%. Only 5% are comfortable using traditional Chinese and 1% are not comfortable with simplified. Some of the recent changes mainly represent what was in use but wasn't officially recognised.

Despite the efforts to please Taiwan and make a more common language on both sides of the straight, as it was officially announced, there is no going back to fantizi in mainland China.

Many changes happen in overseas communities, e.g. Chinese schools in the US.

In a 2007 national survey by the Chinese Language Assn. of Secondary-Elementary Schools, nearly half of 263 schools included in the sample taught only the simplified form and 11% only traditional. The remaining taught a mix of the two. In 1994, by comparison, 17% of 139 schools taught simplified and 40% traditional.
Edited by atitarev

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aristotle1990

Any new info on this? I thought it was coming out "very soon"...

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