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cunparis

Is it possible to learn Traditional & Simplified characters together?

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cunparis

I started taking Chinese lessons, with Pimsleur tapes and then recently with a young Chinese student. I initially didn't want to even attempt reading & writing but one day she showed up and had already prepared a lesson on writing so I didn't want to be difficult and went along. I ended up loving it. I've been obsessed with Chinese characters for the past few weeks. She's from mainland so she uses simplified characters, so I thought I might as well learn that, thinking it's the future and all. So I ordered a couple dictionaries and also McNaughton's book "Reading and Writing Chinese". I got it yesterday and impatiently read the first 30 pages, when to my horror I realized I made a mistake! The book teaches traditional characters!!! Well on the amazon page it says it has the simplified also, but it just shows the simplified real small in the corner and doesn't give the brush strokes. I wanted to cry, because I really love his book yet I want to learn simplified characters. As I kept reading I came across something really interesting, the simplified seemed actually harder. For example, "book" was based on "brush" & "say". In traditional you can easily see these two characters together and it's easy to remember. But the simplified character for book was totally different. So then I thought maybe I should learn traditional afterall. So I kept looking and I noticed that the majority of the characters in the basic list are the same. So then I thought maybe it wouldn't be so bad, I can either learn traditional and then learn simplified later, OR I could learn them both at the same time. I'm really not sure what to do. My wife's father, who lives in the same apartment building is Cantonese and he writes traditional characters. I bet the Chinese community here in France uses traditional as well as most overseas do. But my tutor only knows simplified and it seems simplified is gaining popularity.

My current idea is to learn both traditional & simplified at the same time. I'm just curious if that will make learning the basic set of characters much harder or not. It already seems to be a pretty difficult task. ;)

Thanks,

Michael

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Battosai

Actually in the beginning they might look really different ,but they are not. I bet your mainland Chinese tutor can read most traditional characters with ease. All my friends that have been raised with simplified can read traditional as many Karaoke lyrics are displayed in traditional characters, subtitles on DVDs are often in traditional characters as well. I learnt both but living in the Mainland I feel more comfortable with simplified. I can read traditional newspapers and books with a little bit more effort.

Learning both is a good idea. It might make the initial struggle slightly harder but it will allow you to gain stronger foundations in the language. It will also facilitates future studies of Japanese or Cantonese , if you are interested...

Good luck

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Chongtak

If you do respect chinese culture you should learn traditional characters. But if you just wanna impress your mainland chinese friends by your knowledge just learn simplified.

It's not a big deal you can learn simplified if you know traditional, but it will be really hard to learn traditional from simplified.

Traditional system is not harder though, the difference is actually not culture, but politic.

We always laugh when we meet mainland chinese friends 'cause they are unable to write even easy words!

Up to you anyway....

Courage in your study

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Quest
If you do respect chinese culture you should learn traditional characters. But if you just wanna impress your mainland chinese friends by your knowledge just learn simplified.

It's not a big deal you can learn simplified if you know traditional, but it will be really hard to learn traditional from simplified.

Traditional system is not harder though, the difference is actually not culture, but politic.

We always laugh when we meet mainland chinese friends 'cause they are unable to write even easy words!

Laughing at you.

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chrisburk87

When I started learning Chinese, I had the same problem as you. I first learnt Simplified, but I soon good addicted to the Chinese writing. Since I love Chinese culture, I knew that I should at least recognize tradtional script, but then I thought: Why should I learn a such an ugly, shortened script, while there is something as beautiful and as real as traditional Chinese characters. I sometimes tried to write down Traditional characters, and I soon realized that they aren't harder to learn, but they are more beautiful and are the real Chinese culture. I switched over when I probably knew 500 characters. It wasn't that hard, and it was really good decision. Every educated Mainland Chinese can read traditional script, and they still often use it in daily life, even though they are forbidden. Hong Kong and Taiwan really don't like the shortend writing. I often noticed, that some of them eiter can't read simplified or they are not willing to, which I can understand. Now to my Chinese teacher, she is from Mainland, but she can read the traditional characters fluently. She really got used to me writing traditional script and vertical writing, and often tells me that I have a beautiful handwriting and a good understanding of chinese characters. I think she now is a bit proud that I choosed the traditional script, even though she hadn't learnt it. Our textbook is in simplified Chinese, but I can read it, and mostly even write them, but I refuse it, because I really dislike the shortened script. It is not that hard to get used to reading the other script. At home I only use traditional characters and although I can read simplified, I only buy books in traditional Chinese, since I want to boycott the culturless stuff (^^). I have no problems with my decision, and I think that it gave me a better understanding of Chinese characters, because simplified characters often make no sense anymore, and therefore, choosing the traditional script even made it easier for me to learn the language.

P.S.: What helped me a lot was a dicitionary which contains traditional characters and the simplified in brackets (or other way round). When there was an unknown character, I first looked for the traditional writing before I wrote it down.

What I told you is my own experience. And I had great success with my individual way, but it's your own decision.

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Jockster
If you do respect chinese culture you should learn traditional characters. But if you just wanna impress your mainland chinese friends by your knowledge just learn simplified.

It's not a big deal you can learn simplified if you know traditional' date=' but it will be really hard to learn traditional from simplified.

Traditional system is not harder though, the difference is actually not culture, but politic.

We always laugh when we meet mainland chinese friends 'cause they are unable to write even easy words!

Up to you anyway....

Courage in your study[/quote']

I'm not sure what you mean by "respecting the Chinese culture" in this context, but if someone didn't like the Chinese culture in the first place they'd hardly be inclined to learn the language in the first place, would they?

Simplified vs. Traditional is a recurrent topic in this forum, and people seem to be very passionate about their choices. It beats me why. But what I have gleaned from the threads is that only about 20% of Chinese characters have been simplified, so even if someone, say yours truly, is content to focus exclusively on simplified characters for the time being, it's not as if I have to start from scratch if, later on, I choose to learn the traditional counterparts, too.

Also, the advocates of using traditional characters often claim that a lot of the logic was lost in the process of simplifying characters. That sounds probable to me. But that, if anything, should make it easier for me to learn traditional characters later on, once I'm already familiar with simplified characters, right?

By the way, are you guys as passionate about, say, American English vs. British English? The spelling's a bit different, as is the pronunciation, of course. Each variant's got its idiosyncrasies. A person (non-native) should be consistent in his/her use. But those practical details apart, either variant is used as a vehicle for communicating ideas, not as a political baseball bat. I spell the American way, but I don't support George Bush (not even implicitly, I hope). :wink:

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cunparis

Since I posted this topic I went on a short vacation and I took my new book "reading & writing chinese" with me to study in the hotel. If you're familiar with the book I've managed to learn 50 characters already. Only a few had simplified versions (ma, and the gate radical I forget the name). I found it easier to just learn the simplified version at the same time as the traditional version. In these two examples they are very similar, with the simplified just reducing the number of strokes but keeping the overall character very similar. Thumbing through the book I found other characters that were changed quite a bit. These will be harder to learn both versions but still not impossible. If you think about it, learning the simplified character in addition to the traditional is easier than learning a new character since they share the same pronounciation and meaning. So overall in my opinion this seems to be the way to go.

I also found by searching Amazon that the author (McNaughton) will have a version of his reading & writing chinese book in simplified form. It should be available this summer. If it had been available when I ordered the traditional version, I would have got it instead. But now I'm glad I didn't. The traditional characters are much prettier and I think it's easiest to learn them both at the same time.

I might need another dictionary with traditional characters in it but for now I'm just using my Oxford Starter dictionary which seems to be fine.

Thanks for all the input. It's a common topic I know but a very interesting one and each person must make the correct choice for them. I encourage people to try learning both at the same time.

-Michael

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kaikaiisagirl

I'm from mainland China, and I can read all the traditional chinese characters as well. I didn't learn them on purpose, and not just because a lot of movie captions are in tradition chinese charaters. in real life, you see a lot of shop slogans or brand names in traditional chinese too :)

Writing in simplified chinese is easier, you can expand your chinese vocabulary fast at first by learning the simplified chinese. I think expanding vocabulary is the most important part.

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yixiazi

Its my idea that if you learn the traditional radicals(universal character parts), along with the simplified variants, then by knowing either character set, you would know how to expand, or simplify the character.

Am I right here, or wrong? I two would like to learn both sets. One reason is that even though the Chinese syntax for many of the characters has changed a bit over the centuries, at least with a knowledge of the old and new, some old texts and artwork would be available to my mind.

I heard an example the other day that emphasizeed this point to me. My boss was talking to a Japanese man over some ancient written Japanese texts. The Japanese man said that he could not read them, because the characters were archaiac, and not in use. Surprisingly, my boss(a Chinese speaker) could read the ancient Japanese texts well enough to convey the meaning to a contemporary Japanese man. Of course he couldn't speak Japanese, but he could interpret the Old Japanese for the Japanese man in English. Wow!

Think of all the history that would be lost, should people stop understanding the old traditional characters completely, and mark them as archaiac. Also think how limited we would miss out if we could only write to people from Taiwan, and not other Chinese speaking peoples. After all, the advantage of Mandarin, and simplified Chinese, is that regardless of dialect, in general, written Simplified is understandable across the board. Again, am I right?

This would be like if every French person, German person, Spanish person, etc. had the same written systen despite their differing vocalizations. What a benefit that would be!

I see great benefit and pleasure in learning both sets.

-Brian

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cunparis
I heard an example the other day that emphasizeed this point to me. My boss was talking to a Japanese man over some ancient written Japanese texts. The Japanese man said that he could not read them' date=' because the characters were archaiac, and not in use. Surprisingly, my boss(a Chinese speaker) could read the ancient Japanese texts well enough to convey the meaning to a contemporary Japanese man. Of course he couldn't speak Japanese, but he could interpret the Old Japanese for the Japanese man in English. Wow!

[/quote']

This is a really great story! Makes me glad to have chosen traditional. I have already impressed my father-in-law who only knows traditional with the few characters I know. I am curious to try out some simplified characters on him once I learn some more, so see if he can understand them. Tonight I see my tutor, I haven't seen her in 3 weeks, so I'll impress her as well. I think she only knows simplified. It's good that I have access to a native writer of the two.

-Michael

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Glenn
I heard an example the other day that emphasizeed this point to me. My boss was talking to a Japanese man over some ancient written Japanese texts. The Japanese man said that he could not read them, because the characters were archaiac, and not in use. Surprisingly, my boss(a Chinese speaker) could read the ancient Japanese texts well enough to convey the meaning to a contemporary Japanese man. Of course he couldn't speak Japanese, but he could interpret the Old Japanese for the Japanese man in English. Wow!

I think that might have more to do with ancient Japanese being written all in Chinese characters than it being the older forms. Japanese stays pretty close to the traditional characters for the most part, and I don't think it's too hard to figure out the traditional ones from the simplified ones. Also, Japanese only simplified characters in the set of "everyday use" characters (常用漢字), and any characters falling outside the list are in their traditional forms.

Also, Japanese elites wrote in Chinese. This would certainly make it easier for a Chinese speaker to read the ancient texts than a Japanese speaker.

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Harpoon

Hmm... I wonder if the phonetic radicals in the Chinese characters that have them were/are completely useless to the Japanese or not?

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nipponman

Hmm, I think I agree with Glenn. As Japanese was orignally written in all characters, eg.

乎、其之言語波日本爾弖使用為た(darn, so close)

as opposed to,

ああ、その言語は日本にて使用した.

The former is very difficult indeed.

Also, Japanese only simplified characters in the set of "everyday use" characters (常用漢字), and any characters falling outside the list are in their traditional forms.

and it follows that any characters that the Japanese don't learn would be difficult to decipher nowadays. Japanese used to use around 6000 characters commonly (100-150 years ago maybe) but that was simplified to 1945 characters. Therefore, I'm certain that there are some characters that the chinese (still about 3000 characters are learned)

man would know and not the Japanese man.

nipponman

P.s. If this is the Glenn from teach yourself Japanese's forum, let me be the first to say 'welcome'!

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Glenn
Hmm' date=' I think I agree with Glenn. As Japanese was orignally written in all characters, eg.

乎、其之言語波日本爾弖使用為た(darn, so close)[/quote']

LOL

and it follows that any characters that the Japanese don't learn would be difficult to decipher nowadays. Japanese used to use around 6000 characters commonly (100-150 years ago maybe) but that was simplified to 1945 characters. Therefore' date=' I'm certain that there are some characters that the chinese (still about 3000 characters are learned)

man would know and not the Japanese man.[/quote']

I'm sure that there are characters used by the Chinese that aren't used by the Japanese, but I also believe that educated Japanese people know around 5000 characters. That aside, you're probably right that the older characters played a role, especially with some of the radically different ones.

P.s. If this is the Glenn from teach yourself Japanese's forum, let me be the first to say 'welcome'!

It is, and thank you (or should I say 謝謝).

Hmm... I wonder if the phonetic radicals in the Chinese characters that have them were/are completely useless to the Japanese or not?

If you mean something like 羊 being in 洋, 様, 痒, 養, 窯, 祥, 詳, 鮮, and 美 and having some bearing on the reading, then they aren't completely useless. For example, the first six characters all have the reading you, the next two have the reading shou, the penultimate one has the reading sen, and the last one has the readings mi and bi. So, you can guess with decent accuracy the reading of a character you don't know how to read if you know it's phonetic part, but even with that there can be some complications.

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Harpoon
If you mean something like 羊 being in 洋, 様, 痒, 養, 窯, 祥, 詳, 鮮, and 美 and having some bearing on the reading, then they aren't completely useless. For example, the first six characters all have the reading you, the next two have the reading shou, the penultimate one has the reading sen, and the last one has the readings mi and bi. So, you can guess with decent accuracy the reading of a character you don't know how to read if you know it's phonetic part, but even with that there can be some complications.

hmm pretty cool that the Japanese at least tried to keep their own pronounciations constant (in terms of radicals)

heh it also seems like Japanese is plagued with homphones too :shock:

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nipponman
hmm pretty cool that the Japanese at least tried to keep their own pronounciations constant (in terms of radicals)

Yeah, just like mandarin, Japanese pronounciations have changed over time but they have remained, er, consistent. You can usually guess at the Japanese pronounciation from the chinese (or vice versa), whether it be mandarin or cantonese. E.g yi1/2/3/4 == i,

jie1/2/3/4 == kai jia1/2/3/4 == ka etc. (I don't know cantonese, but I think you can do this)

heh it also seems like Japanese is plagued with homphones too :shock:

Right on, Japanese is so crowded with homophones that it is way worse than chinese. For example, my dictionary has 24 different words (common words) for shi4. 4 for shi2 3 for shi3 and maybe about 5 for shi1.

But in Japanese there is about 60-64 words (not really words, but characters) with the pronounciation of し (shi). Because Japanese has no tones, it would be impossible to rely on the chinese-derived pronounciation for meaning. Many Japanese are concerned about this problem and in Japanese it is called 同音異義が多過ぎる or dou in igi ga oo-sugiru, which is to say that there are too many words that have the same sound but different meanings.

If you would like more information, and if you can read Japanese, I suggest this site

http://www.kibicity.ne.jp/~j-kida/image/2001/060906/index.html

nipponman

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Harpoon
Yeah' date=' just like mandarin, Japanese pronounciations have changed over time but they have remained, er, consistent. You can usually guess at the Japanese pronounciation from the chinese (or vice versa), whether it be mandarin or cantonese. E.g yi1/2/3/4 == i,

jie1/2/3/4 == kai jia1/2/3/4 == ka etc. (I don't know cantonese, but I think you can do this)

[/quote']

dont understand what you mean at all :oops:

If you would like more information' date=' and if you can read Japanese, I suggest this site

http://www.kibicity.ne.jp/~j-kida/image/2001/060906/index.html

nipponman[/quote']

i dont know if that was directed towards me... seeing as I was aking questions about japanase its pretty obvious I dont know any of it :o

on the topic of Japanese homophones, i heard that the Japanese kind of have a "tonal" (kind of) system that they don't admit to, meaning the stress placed on words. Put the wrong stress, and no one can understand you.

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nipponman
ont understand what you mean at all :oops:

Let me be a little more clear this time. Ok, Japanese pronounciation has changed over the past few hundred years, definitely. But the changes aren't just all willy-nilly, they apply to the whole sound. Better example, しょう (pronounced shou) is the current Japanese pronounciation. But it was しゃう(shau) . Also こう(kou) could have been かう (kau) かふ (kafu) くぁう (kwau) depending on the character, but they all became merged into one sound (actually two) こう. Which will obviously create more of the same sound than before. And further more, as far as chinese pronounciation, Japanese and Chinese sounded alittle (stress: a little) bit similar 300 years ago (e.g 廣 guang3 was pronounced kwau, I don't know how guang3 was pronounced though) but now a days you can usually look at a chinese pronounciation and if you know Japanese interpret it, for example, if your see the pinyin for jia(any tone:) you might know that the corresponding pronounciation of the japanese character is ka (or something similar) etc.

i dont know if that was directed towards me... seeing as I was aking questions about japanase its pretty obvious I dont know any of it :o

yeah, that is pretty obvious, but I was trying to help everybody with that one, as there are a lot of Japanese speakers on this forum.

on the topic of Japanese homophones, i heard that the Japanese kind of have a "tonal" (kind of) system that they don't admit to, meaning the stress placed on words. Put the wrong stress, and no one can understand you.

Not really. Most of the Japanese people I talk to don't really consider it that important really, because it is such a basic function of language. Try this sentence in english, monotone, and you'll see what I mean: "How was your day?" There is an inherent rising intonation (like the second tone of mandarin) in this question. To say it monotone would sound strange indeed. So is it in Japanese, if you say a word and don't use the right pitch, you may confuse someone, but if you say a word and don't use any pitch, context will clear up your meaning.

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Glenn

First off, I apologize if this is esoteric.

Right on' date=' Japanese is so crowded with homophones that it is way worse than chinese. For example, my dictionary has 24 different words (common words) for shi4. 4 for shi2 3 for shi3 and maybe about 5 for shi1.

But in Japanese there is about 60-64 words (not really words, but characters) with the pronounciation of し (shi). Because Japanese has no tones, it would be impossible to rely on the chinese-derived pronounciation for meaning. Many Japanese are concerned about this problem and in Japanese it is called 同音異義が多過ぎる or dou in igi ga oo-sugiru, which is to say that there are too many words that have the same sound but different meanings.[/quote']

It seems that the reading that produces the most words is koushou (link below). In speech, homophones can sometimes be differentiated due to the accent of the words. By the way, 同音 is read dou'on. ^^;

If you would like more information' date=' and if you can read Japanese, I suggest this site

[url']http://www.kibicity.ne.jp/~j-kida/image/2001/060906/index.html[/url]

nipponman

Interesting. I think you may find 同音異義語への異議 an interesting read, as well. It was written by TAKASUGI Shinji, who I believe you know. :D There is also a chart that shows the different readings of the words in modern Mandarin, modern Cantonese, modern Korean, Nara period Japanese, and Japanese since the Edo period.

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nipponman
It seems that the reading that produces the most words is koushou (link below). In speech, homophones can sometimes be differentiated due to the accent of the words. By the way, 同音 is read dou'on. ^^;
Yeah, you're right, I never actually checked the pronunciation of the phrase:oops: .

Interesting. I think you may find 同音異義語への異議 an interesting read, as well. It was written by TAKASUGI Shinji, who I believe you know. :D There is also a chart that shows the different readings of the words in modern Mandarin, modern Cantonese, modern Korean, Nara period Japanese, and Japanese since the Edo period.

Yeah, thats were I got most of my info from, I read that a while back. Thanks though cause I lost the link and have a hard time making it to 思索の遊び場 if you know what I mean.

Thanks again for the correction!

nipponman

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