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Learning Simplified and Traditional Together


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Hello all,

First things first, this is NOT a "which is better, Traditional or Simplified thread" (although what's the betting nothing I say will stop it becoming one).

My question is, what are people's experiences of trying to learn both systems side by side, rather than going for one first then learning to convert to the other?

My situation is that I expect to be doing business and travelling on the mainland, so I need simplified, but also want to have access to classical literature and HK stuff down the road. So the choice is either (1) simplified now, learn Trad later, or (2) learn them both together. Not that worried about learning to write, just read. (Trad first, then simplified, does not really work for me, as getting by on the mainland is my first priority).

Thoughts? (Ground rules -- No one is allowed to mention the beauty of traditional characters or the literacy enhancing merits of simplified. :wink: )

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I don't think it's a problem at all. It's absolute OK if you write some documents to people in mainland with traditional characters, any one can understand it. I think it should be similar in Hongkong if you use some simplified characters. Also, if you really know Chinese language well, the simplified or tranditional characters won't be a problem to you at all. I had my education in mainland with simplified characters, but when I came to US I had no problem to read Chinese newspaper here which is in tranditional Chinese at all. Though don't remember how to write it, when I see it I know it.

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Since you're starting to learn Chinese and your goal is to learn enough as quickly as possible to do business in China, I'd suggest that you start with the simplified form. Gaining a reading knowledge of Chinese adequate for getting around China will be enough work for you. Don't confuse it with traditional characters for now. Concentrate on speaking and reading, and don't worry about writing too much. People, in all probability, won't expect you to write in Chinese for business purposes. Learning the characters well enough to write will also take much longer.

Once you have learned 1000 or more Chinese characters, you can start learning their traditional form equivalent and move on to more characters. It should be smooth sailing from that point on. Getting started is the hardest part. Don't need to make it any harder for yourself.

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Thanks for the advice.

I am painfully aware that getting through that first hurdle is the hard part. This is actually the second try for me -- started learning before and got to about 100 characters till a move and job change got in the way and I got off track (and off this board). Back on track (and the board) now and the second time round is proving to be easier.

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I learned both at the same time -- or at least made an effort to be able to read the simplified forms also, while learning to read and write the traditional forms. For me, this worked very well. It's a little extra effort, but worthwhile, for exactly the purposes you mentioned. Even if you don't end up remembering all of them, at least you made an effort, so that it's easier to relearn them later when needed. The vast majority of simplifications involve a very limited set of components, like 言 食 and so on, so if you memorize those, you've already done most of the work.

Be sure to buy dictionaries that have both together. For character dictionares, many have both for the main entries, but only one for the compounds listed beneath. Fortunately, the new ABC Comprehensive CED has both listed at every compound as well, which is great. Highly recommended.

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