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Guest lookseeau

Traditional & Simplified Characters

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Guest lookseeau

I've studied both traditional and simplified. I find the simplified easier to learn. After a while, the ability to recognise many of the traditional characters is developed when you know the components that have been simplifed, and how.

Whilst simplified characters are very practical, traditional characters are certainly more aesthetically pleasing to behold.

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Guest hacta

Traditional character seems to be hard to me. Children are brought up to learn simplified character in mainland China. But we need to learn traditional character if we want to study ancient culture and language.

CHEN Chunli

China

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channamasala

Well, everyone literate reads Simplified but I haven't had one student I know of who can't also read and write a good deal of Traditional, as well.

That said, I work for a private English school and the children who enroll for our classes are from wealthy, upper-class families - considering how much they pay to have their kids learn English from foreigners. That may be it, too.

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Guest spekkie_big

Actually it is better in my opinion to study the traditional ones and later switch to simplified. You'll quickly get the hang of how certain sets of stripes are simplified and then you are not restricted to only reading simplified texts.

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jwarriner

I agree that simplified characters are easier to remember in reading and writing. I think that's why one of the main thrusts of language reform in China was the simplification of the written word in order to make literacy more attainable. But the traditional characters are very beautiful, in my opinion, and have a lot more ideographic content.

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Guest chrisco

I started off studying simplified characters for about a year while in China, but having now lived in Taiwan for about 5 years, I use the traditional characters and have forgotten almost all the simplified, except for may "ge" and "guo"...

I will likely get back into the simplified as it is what China uses, but I think trying to get a meaning from a simplified character is much more difficult. Most people today type what they write, so that has reduced the difficulty that traditional characters once posed.

Maybe some day (when Taiwan and China get closer together), they will use the Hanyu pinyin system for Romanization and the traditional characters for the Chinese system. Would be nice, even don't think I will ever see it happen.

Cheers - Chrisco

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Guest Anonymous
Maybe some day (when Taiwan and China get closer together), they will use the Hanyu pinyin system for Romanization and the traditional characters for the Chinese system.

Actually in most universities around the world, at least in the U.S., use Hanyu Pinyin with Traditional Chinese (since most Chinese communites in the U.S. use TC but is slowly changing).

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Tsunku

My University in the US is one of those that uses (mostly) Traditional characters as well as Pinyin. The students are supposedly given a choice between Traditional and Simplified, but in reality, as the teachers are mostly from Taiwan and not the mainland, you can't get away with not learning Traditional the same way they'll let you with not learning Simplified. I've never done any Traditional characters until this semester because I took my Chinese in the PRC, so I'm playing catch up. I prefer Simplified probably because that's what I first learned.

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Guest Anonymous
My University in the US is one of those that uses (mostly) Traditional characters as well as Pinyin. The students are supposedly given a choice between Traditional and Simplified, but in reality, as the teachers are mostly from Taiwan and not the mainland, you can't get away with not learning Traditional the same way they'll let you with not learning Simplified. I've never done any Traditional characters until this semester because I took my Chinese in the PRC, so I'm playing catch up. I prefer Simplified probably because that's what I first learned.

All of our Chinese professors are from mainland China but they still teach Traditional Chinese over Simplified, though both are introduced to the students.

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wix

When I was learning Chinese at University our teachers lead us to believe that we would not even be able to read traditional characters. There existence was totally ignored and it retrospect I feel that it reflects very poorly on these teachers :evil:.

While it is best to focus on learning one system, the differences are not that great and it would not take long to show students some of the common differences between simplified and traditional characters. If you are taught the main simplifications of radicals and substitution of homophones any one who is competent in simplified characters should be able to read most traditional characters and vice versa.

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Guest pplwong

Hi. I am going to talk about a few different things here, breaking it into a few topics. It's just my opinion. But as a person who studies many different Chinese font (for fun), I have reason to believe my analysis have at least some sense. Judge yourselve anyways. =)

Writing slow with traditional chinese?

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In fact, even for people who uses Traditional Chinese (like me), we don't usually follow each stroke completely when we are writing. It is because writing each stroke step by step takes lots of time. When writing, we usually keep the "feel" of that word, but simplify some strokes so that we can write faster. We call those "xing shu", let's just called it the "written format" for easy referrence in this post.

For some of those "written format" fonts, it's a bit like what's in Simplified Chinese. But all of those "written format" keeps the feel of Traditional Chinese (which many simplified chinese font does not), hence people who know Traditional Chinese just knows what are written (just like English). Of course, everyone may write differently when writing. It's just like when writing in English, many people are not writing each character completely as what it "should be" written like.

There're some specific rules that we follows when writing "written format" Chinese. So there are no difficulty for anyone who uses Traditional Chiense to understand what the others are written in "written format" unless the person's "written format" have simplified a bit too much such that the word has lost the "spirit" of the word. So really, I see no sense to use the reason of "too slow in writing" for teaching simplified Chinese but not Traditional Chinese.

Traditional Chinese, harder to learn?

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In fact, learning Chinese has a system. The system was developed over thousands of years. Chinese fonts are very simple, but because some words may get confuse with each others, scholars decide to add some parts to the word to differentiate it from another word.

For example, in Chinese long time ago, the sound "yun" means "cloud", and also mean "xx said". People think it's easy to get confuse in some writting, so they added the word "rain" above the original word to form the new "cloud" word, which is what it is like in Traditional Chinese. Many Chinese are developed this way. Some simplified chinese just reverse this process and degrade Chinese into its more "raw" format.

Is it a good thing? Well, yes, it may seem easier to learn. But seriously, Chinese is combined with some different symbols, which usually shows the meaning of the word. When you first start learning, you learn the "side" of Chinese words, which is usually used to tell you if the word relates to "rain"/"wood"/"fire"/"ground"/"hand"/"foot"/"boat"/"water"/etc etc. So it already tells a lot already. The other part is kind of intuitive about what the word is in many commonly used words. So it's really easy to learn as long as your teacher is following the correct method to teach.

See, when we learn Englsih, in many cases, we just have to remember the word. Just remember (cux my first lang is not Eng). If you just try to remember Chinese word by "simpily remembering", it will be very hard. But if you learn by undestanding it, then you will not only be able to learn the word easily, but it also allows you to learn other words easier in the future also. So it is not really hard. Espeiclally when most people learns Chinese when they are small. Children simply learns fast. I remember me and friends have no difficulties to learn Chinese when we are small. Also, because the brain of Children are still developing. Learning Traditional Chinese words can actually help in developing logical thought and image memorising skills.

Simplified Chinese easier to read?

----------------------------------------

Now, this is really not true. Because quite some simplified Chinese becomes kind of "sound driven", so that when reading some "artisitc literatures", you will probably need more time to understand. Many scholars uses some elder Chinese style instead of pure modern style (when I write in modern Chines style, I still have some parts written in elder Chinese style to create some better "atmosphere" which modern Chinese may not be able to do). When people are using traditional chinese, it's easy to understand. And that's why even I can get the meaning of several lines of Chiense by just looking through (now, it's REALLY looking through from from left top corner to right bottom corner of those several rows, not even reading the senetenses). People probably can't do this when reading simiplified Chinese because some may need more thoughts to know what exactly some words means (again, beacause some words became sound driven).

Needness to say, it create big gap between Chinese people who uses simplified chinese and our Chinese history because we had use Traditional Chinese for more than a thousand years, and using simplified Chinese to write out the literatures back then will create serious confusion because of some sentense structure problem.

Some brief final words

--------------------------

Anyways, not allowing to teach Traditional Chinese in mainland create great difficulties in the study in Chinese culture and history, which creates gap between Chinese (who learn simplified chinese) with their own culture and history.

I can accept a simiplification of Chinese, but must be done by good Chinese writing scholars who will be able to follow the rule of creating Chinese words. That way, we MAY be able to simplifiy Chinese while not breaking our link to our own culture and history.

And in terms of arts, of course, Traditional Chinese looks much better than simplified Chinese.

I really hope the PRC government will listen to those history profs who complained about simiplified Chinese, and switch back to Traditional Chinese. Replace simiplified Chiense by teaching students the rules that we follow when using "writing format". And that's enough.

This idea was originated even when Chinese Sociialist Party (Republic of China) was still in power. It was originated by some famous Chinese scholars. I totally agree in their idea of promoting "writting format" for daily writing while keeping Traditional Chinese as the offical fonts in printed books/documents/etc.

Sigh. I really hope that day will come. But my confidence become weaker when PRC's advertisement control department announce that Traditional Chiense are not banned from all advertisements on TV. They're not even allowing people to use Traditional Chinese on TV now.....

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smithsgj

xing shu: if this is how everyone writes anyway, why not make it (or an approximation, ie simplified characters) the official writing system? Why preserve a system that nobody uses in real writing?

radicals: but simplified characters still have radicals (sides!). In the one case you specifically mention (the 2 yun s) do you really think there's ever any doubt which one is meant?

sound-driven: isn't the "sound-driven" class by far the largest of the classes of characters in either system?

> "using simplified Chinese to write out the literatures back then will create serious confusion because of some sentense structure problem. "

Why? I studied classical Chinese in simplified chars. It was hard work, but I don't think trad characters would have helped much.

Just get rid of the bloody characters altogether, I say. Everyone else in Asia seems to manage just fine without!

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Guest Anonymous
xing shu: if this is how everyone writes anyway, why not make it (or an approximation, ie simplified characters) the official writing system? Why preserve a system that nobody uses in real writing?

Not everyone writes in Xing Shu. From my understanding, Xing Shu is a form of calligraphy. However, from the context of your suggestion, I'm assuming you're talking about Cao Xie, or rough writing. People usually write in Cao Xie whenever they write a quick letter or notes. If they were writing anything that's official or homework for students, they have to write legibily. Cao Xie isn't taught in school. Cao Xie is the equivelent of cursive writing in English. If one doesn't know Cao Xie then he/she won't be able to read it. However, usually people pick it up in real life practices as they get older.

radicals: but simplified characters still have radicals (sides!). In the one case you specifically mention (the 2 yun s) do you really think there's ever any doubt which one is meant?

I believe in real life, Jiantizi works just as well as Fantizi. Since in Chinese, we almost never just say one word at a time, therefore it's difficult to get confused.

Why? I studied classical Chinese in simplified chars. It was hard work, but I don't think trad characters would have helped much.

Learning classical Chinese works would definitely be easier with Fantizi, but how much depends on the individual classical work.

Just get rid of the bloody characters altogether, I say. Everyone else in Asia seems to manage just fine without!

These "bloody characters" are the very root of the Chinese culture. To get rid of them would be taking a huge part of the Chinese culture and flush it down the drain. Not everyone in Asia is using Roman letters. Although Koreans generally use Hangul but most of them still have knowledge of Hanzi and they are even still taught in school. I've also seen Hanzi, or what they call Hanja, on public signs in Seoul. Japan is also still using Hanzi, or what they call Kanji. They have been trying to reduce the usage of Kanji ever since the end of World War II but they realize that it's impossible, at least for the moment. I don't know how much knowledge you have in Vietnamese but it sure isn't nearly as clear written in Roman letters, or what they call Quoc Ngu, than it is in Hanzi, Chu Nhu. There are many Vietnamese people living here in Houston, TX (we have the second largest Vietnamese community outside of L.A. I believe). I've tried to learn Vietnamese and often times they don't know what an individual word means, only when they put two of them together to form a "phrase". However, I found this website that translates Quoc Ngu into Chu Nhu and most of the time, I can understand "phrases" better because I understand the meaning of each individual "word". Abolishing the usage of Hanzi and replacing it with Hanyu Pinyin, or some other kind of Roman system, has always been a dream of foreigners who are learning Chinese but don't have a sufficient knowledge of the Chinese culture. No offense, it's just my observation. To suggest getting rid of the usage of Hanzi is like a non-native English speaker suggesting to abolish the English writing system because it's "no good".

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akdn
Well, everyone literate reads Simplified but I haven't had one student I know of who can't also read and write a good deal of Traditional, as well.

Maybe that's because they have watched too many foreign films on VCD! If VCDs in China were subtitled with simplified characters, wouldn't that take away the only day-to-day opportunity mainland Chinese have for contact with traditional characters?

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smithsgj

I taught in China for a year before VCDs were invented. But the students still knew lots of traditional characters.

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Quest

most should know how to read but not to write

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smithsgj

Does anyone WRITE anything, except exams and shopping lists? Sure they can input trad chars to a computer, no?

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akdn
I taught in China for a year before VCDs were invented. But the students still knew lots of traditional characters.

Maybe in the days before VCDs there were more opportunities to learn/use traditional characters than there are today.

I was only saying that these days, on the mainland, there don't appear to be many other 'everyday' applications of traditional characters other than for understanding foreign films or singing songs at KTV. How else do mainland Chinese acquire them?

I guess the Chinese student of Chinese literature would have more highbrow uses for trad characters, but I don't think that primary/middle/high schools tend to formally teach them anymore.

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