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How do mainland Chinese people feel when seeing a sign with traditional characters?

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chinopinyin

In many airports, welcome signs in Chinese use traditional characters. I wonder whether people from the mainland would be happier if they were written using simplified characters instead

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Meng Lelan

In many places in mainland China, historical sites and formal writing on signs like welcome signs often use traditional characters. I don't think that disturbs mainlanders, otherwise probably those signs would be taken down and re-done in simplified.

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Quentnin

As a mainlander, it does not disturb me at all, but it would be more friendly if they were simplified Chinese. :D

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Kenny同志

As a mainlander, tradtitional characters are always pleasing to my eyes. But many other mainlanders may like simplified ones better; I am not sure.

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jkhsu

My guess is that these signs were written in traditional characters because historically, the majority the overseas Chinese in those countries came from Taiwan and Hong Kong. I know that this is true for the USA. I do believe that mainland Chinese would prefer the signs to be in simplified characters, however, they are aware and accept the use of traditional Chinese outside of China. Just about every Chinese restaurant in the USA uses traditional Chinese in their menus. Therefore, I think the mainland Chinese are not bothered by it.

However, if these signs ever get changed to simplified Chinese, I suspect the Taiwanese would get bothered by it because the use of simplified characters has political undertones for them. Remember that before the PRC started simplification of Chinese in the 1950s, traditional characters (the same ones used in Taiwan and Hong Kong) were used by everyone in China. Traditional characters were also used in the Qing Dynasty prior to the establishment of the ROC in 1912. Therefore the use of traditional characters is not tied to any political party but simplified characters (as we know them today) are the result of the CCP.

Edit: See my post #14 on clarification of the simplified and traditional characters I am talking about. This is not a debate on the process of simplification which has been going on for a long time in China.

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Meng Lelan

However, if these signs ever get changed to simplified Chinese, I suspect the Taiwanese would get bothered by it

Or vice versa as in one time I wrote a blog entry in traditional characters instead of the usual simplified and a netizen left an angry comment about that choice, fortunately I removed the comment quite quickly.

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大肚男

all these reasons sound very reasonable. another consideration may be that most mainlanders can pretty much read traditional characters without much trouble. however, the same cannot be said of non-mainlanders and simplified.

this was the asnwer i got from my Chinese friends when we went to a ktv in Miami that had all the lyrics in traditional characters.

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rezaf
Or vice versa as in one time I wrote a blog entry in traditional characters instead of the usual simplified and a netizen left an angry comment about that choice, fortunately I removed the comment quite quickly.

I also got some similar comments on forums or chatrooms a few times, so I guess traditional characters might actually bother some mainlanders.

all these reasons sound very reasonable. another consideration may be that most mainlanders can pretty much read traditional characters without much trouble. however, the same cannot be said of non-mainlanders and simplified.


this was the asnwer i got from my Chinese friends when we went to a ktv in Miami that had all the lyrics in traditional characters.

It's the same for both sides. Both can easily get used to reading the other system very quickly because at their level of Chinese proficiency they don't read individual characters one by one. They read things based on the context and habit. Probably some mainlanders who go to ktv are more familiar with traditional characters because almost all the ktv lyrics are in 繁體字 even in mainland China but I guess the reason they have no difficulty reading those lyrics is mostly because they are familiar with the songs.

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anonymoose

Of course there will always be individuals with preferences (I have a mainland friend who always chats using traditional characters on QQ simply because she likes them), but I suspect that, overall, most people don't have any strong feeling one way or the other.

Traditional characters are very pervasive on the mainland. Many shop signs use traditional characters. Even the large stylised signs at each station on the Shanghai Metro use traditional characters. And of course, many karaoke lyrics and movie subtitles (on DVDs or the internet) are in traditional characters. So seeing traditional characters is nothing unusual for mainlanders. I guess it is almost like just a different font. So, unless someone has a specific agenda, most people wouldn't even consciously pay attention to it.

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rezaf

Reading signs and lyrics is one thing but have them read long texts or texts that need paying attention to in 繁體字 and many of them start complaining.

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jkhsu

this was the asnwer i got from my Chinese friends when we went to a ktv in Miami that had all the lyrics in traditional characters.

When I went to a KTV in Los Angeles with Taiwanese friends, they had trouble reading simplified text. I think the reason is what rezaf and anonymoose mentioned in that mainlanders are used to seeing many songs in traditional characters already.

While both sides may complain if forced to read the text they are not used to seeing, this is definitely a bigger deal for Taiwan. They feel like they're the last ones to protect traditional characters. Some links below:

Tourism Bureau removes simplified Chinese from Web

http://www.taipeitim...6/16/2003505898

Task force seeks UNESCO status for Chinese writing

http://www.taipeitim...3/14/2003438444

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Don_Horhe
...simplified characters (as we know them today) are the result of the CCP.

I cannot agree with this. Only 21% of the newly created simplifications were made after 1949, according to 《中国语文的时代演进》, where Zhou Youguang cites data from 李乐毅. Of all 2,235 simplified characters in the 《简化字总表》, 521 are newly adopted simplified forms, while the remaining 1,714 are simplifications by analogy. The origins of said 521 forms are as follows:

- 13% originated in the pre-Qin era.

- 18% during the Qin and Han

- 6% during the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties

- 6% during the Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period

- 15% during the Song, Liao, Jin and Yuan

- 10% during the Ming, Qing and Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

- 11% during the ROC

- 21% during the PRC, including pre-1949 "liberation characters" (解放字)

I don't want to start another simplified vs. traditional debate, so I'll stop here.

On topic:

I don't think that the majority of mainland Chinese feel bothered by the presence of traditional characters. As was already pointed out, traditional script is not a rare sight on the mainland, and most of the people I've met were pleasantly surprised to find out that we, as foreigners, can recognize/write it, rather than get offended.

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renzhe
Therefore the use of traditional characters is not tied to any political party but simplified characters (as we know them today) are the result of the CCP.

Character simplification was a hot topic at the turn of the last century, then initiated by the KMT, stopped by the civil war, then carried on (in their own way) by the CCP. But I agree that this is not the place for another trad-simp discussion.

I don't think that most Mainlanders have any issues with signs in traditional characters. Traditional characters are considered more aesthetically pleasing and are commonly used for signs.

Many of them will complain if you make them read long texts (brochures, books) in traditional characters though, because it's much less comfortable and requires more effort for somebody used to simplified characters. If you're going to distribute material like that to Mainlanders, you should use simplified. The same goes for distributing materials meant for a HK/TW audience.

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jkhsu

I cannot agree with this. Only 21% of the newly created simplifications were made after 1949

Thanks for the clarification on "simplification". What I wanted to say was this:

Set A = character set used in Taiwan / HK now

Set B = character set used in mainland China, Singapore, Malayasia now

For the most part, minor differences aside, the differences in Set A and Set B are the result of the CCP.

Do you agree with this?

I also have no intention of starting this debate. My understanding of this thread is that it's about how each side feels about the other character set when they encounter it and whether they are bothered by it or not (specifically the OP was asking about how mainlanders felt about seeing traditional text, but including how the other side feels in the topic is valid in my mind)

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renzhe
For the most part, minor differences aside, the differences in Set A and Set B are the result of the CCP.

Do you agree with this?

The differences between standards yes. This is true by definition, since one of the standards was defined by the PRC.

However, the CCP is not responsible for the creation of many of these simplifications, many were created by the Chinese people through centuries, and a minority was created by a CCP committee. Much of "simplification" amounts to standardising on a different existing character variant (sometimes acquiring a new meaning in the process) and canonization of widespread vulgar forms.

A quick example is 台灣, which is a common shorthand for 臺灣. This wouldn't be the case if it were invented by the CCP.

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anonymoose

I don't think mainlanders see it as a mainland vs. Taiwan/Greater China issue, but rather a new vs. old issue. As someone else already mentioned, traditional characters were the norm before simplification, and have no particular association with Greater China except for the fact that they are still used there (and not a product of there).

I can see Taiwanese people being more sensitive about using simplified characters, possibly, but then that wasn't what the OP asked.

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xiaocai

Majority of mainland Chinese people I know don't really care. Having said that, they don't represent the whole Chinese population.

but including how the other side feels in the topic is valid in my mind

Maybe you can start a new thread on this. It's kind of like the OP asks us to translate English to Chinese but instead we discuss about how to translate some Chinese words into English.

I can see Taiwanese people being more sensitive about using simplified characters, possibly, but then that wasn't what the OP asked.

I feel this too. If you post in traditional on mainland internet forums no one will say a thing, but definitely not the other way around.

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rezaf
I feel this too. If you post in traditional on mainland internet forums no one will say a thing, but definitely not the other way around.

Some will. I have had 5 comments so far. And there was a 老太太 who lectured me about how patriotic she is and how she hates Taiwanese people and that I shouldn't use 繁體字 .

Edit: It's very unrelated to this topic but I should I use past tense for "is" and "hates" in "who lectured me about how patriotic she is and how she hates Taiwanese people "?

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xiaocai

Alright, some will then. But I feel that majority will not, assuming from my limited experience.

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