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Jamie

Simplified vs. Traditional

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Ian_Lee

After all, simplification is not related to easiness in learning or IT.

Just look at the other official minority language in PRC -- Mongolian.

In Buryat Republic of Russia and the Mongolia Republic, the Cryllic script has been adopted for decades. But what is officially used in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region?

The traditional Mongolian script which looks like dozens of flies mingling together. It is definitely hard to learn and harder to apply in IT than the Cryllic scropt.

So why does Beijing simplify the Chinese script but restore the traditional Mongolian script?

Politics.

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Quest
Coming from Taiwan' date=' I have to say..simplified chinese is very hard to read for me. Honestly speaking, I can probably read only half of a simplified chinese article, or less. I just scanned through the chinese idioms on this forum and I couldn't make out more than half of the idioms because they were mostly written in simplified script. If I come across something on the internet written in simplified chinese, I will not be able to read it comprehensibly without using a translator ([url']http://chinagate.yam.com/[/url]).

Of course, I can make out some simplified characters like the 后 in 時候..but i really do not understand this simplification..only the sound is the same. 后 should mean queen and has nothing to do with time. So when I come across 后 in a simplified article, my brain automatically thinks about a queen, and not about time. This really screws up my comprehension of the text sometimes.

I also read an article online somewhere about China's educated class reverting back to the traditional script. Beijing University has many of its signs written in traditional script now. So, I'm guessing China will eventually go back to using the traditional script when it becomes wealthier and people get a better education. Otherwise, how will they study ancient chinese literature without being able to read the traditional characters that were used in china until rather recently (when the communist party took over)

timc18, 時候 in simplified form is 时候 not 时后。

I have never deliberately learned either formally or informally the traditional characters, but I can still read traditional documents with no trouble at all and as fast as reading the simplified versions. I think to me it's like picking up new characters in the same script. However, since I never learned it, I cannot write in the traditional script.

I guess whether you can recognize the other script depends on how often you read in that script. Also, once you recognize that character, you will remember it the next time you see it.

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Quest
The traditional Mongolian script which looks like dozens of flies mingling together. It is definitely hard to learn and harder to apply in IT than the Cryllic scropt.

That's a subjective opinion.

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Guest Yinyue Mike

Hi Everyone,

This has been an interesting discussion, as usual. I would like to point out one thing, though:

You CAN'T compare traditional vs. simplified characters in an effort to determine which one is better, they are just different. Let me explain why.

It is true that simplified characters have fewer strokes, and, in theory, are easier to learn and write. However, traditional characters are generally easier to read. This is because the differences between similar characters are greater, and therefore can be processed more quickly.

An example: 于 and 干 are easy to learn and write, but in reading they take longer to distinguish than 於 and 幹, respectively.

I do think, however, that the term "simplified" is a bit misleading, because it doesn't really make characters easier. The real problem with characters is that the phonetic components are inconsistent and that there are, quite simply, too many... :-) And, when push comes to shove, I honestly would be happier if characters were never simplified, so I wouldn't have to learn two systems!

I would still argue, though, not to learn both from the outset. Many of the major differences are in the most basic characters, and it might be a bit overwhelming. Also, the time spent on the other system could be used to learn more characters, and get you that much closer to being able to read Chinese!

Mike

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Quest
It seems timc18 suffers the same "simplified script sydrome" as I do.

Actually there is another phenomenon of "Good language replaces bad language". In many places outside Mainland China' date=' the traditional script will naturally take over the simplified script if there is no government decree.

Go to any Chinatowns in the world. Be it Yokohama, Bangkok, London, Toronto, San Francisco,.....etc., all the shop signs and even menus in the Chinese restaurants are written in the traditional script even though the Mainland Chinese may constitute the majority of immigrants there.

Actually even in Shenzhen where traditional and simplified scripts interact, I would say over half of the shop signs have switched into traditional script now.

Over the long term, simplified script may be only prevalent in Mainland's rural area where many people have learning difficulty.[/quote']

Please remember that most Chinatowns overseas were founded before the birth of the simplified script. They keep their own tradition.

Many people have learning difficulty? Perhaps you should say lack of facilities and educators?

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Quest

Mike you have raised some interesting points.

I think the people who thought the simplified script would be a better replacement for the traditional script must not have done enough research on the way people learn to read and write characters. Sure it makes logical sense that the fewer strokes one has to memorize, the easier it should be to learn it. But Chinese characters do not really work that way. Most people memorize them by basic units and components not strokes; in this case, simplifying the strokes might very well make memorizing even harder.

...but who knows for sure.

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Quest
I just scanned through the chinese idioms on this forum and I couldn't make out more than half of the idioms because they were mostly written in simplified script.

neither could I :P

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

Actually I don't oppose the simplification of written script.

But such process should be gradual and natural. What Beijing has done was government decree without considering the applicability (an attribute of CCP policy).

In the area under CCP jurisdiction, of course it works.

But once ontside its sphere of influence, such mandated script will not be popular.

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Quest
Quest:

Actually I don't oppose the simplification of written script.

But such process should be gradual and natural. What Beijing has done was government decree without considering the applicability (an attribute of CCP policy).

How was it inapplicable? How do you know they did not consider the applicability? I think the transition went pretty smoothly' date=' and it worked. There was no major chaos at the time because of the change.

Most people are against changes, that is why we need governments or authorities to set up standards. The government weighs the benefits and side effects of its policies, then it makes a decision. If it concludes the change is good, then it will promote the new standard. You can still write in the old standard, but eventually you will be left out. The CCP did not ban the traditional characters. Of course, we did not elect those policy makers, but that is another issue.

In the area under CCP jurisdiction, of course it works.

But once ontside its sphere of influence, such mandated script will not be popular.

That is common sense. Blair cannot make Bush write "honour" instead of "honor", "theatre" instead of "theater", and "colonisation" instead of "colonization".

At the time of the change, the literacy rate was very low. That is why the change was relatively easy to implement. However, they would be out of their minds if the change is made today.

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Ian_Lee

Quest:

You do not address the issue why in the neutral area where there is no government decree the simplified script is still not prevalent.

If PRC thinks that simplified script is so wonderful why doesn't it promote the script to overseas Chinese? Why does PRC even print its mouthpiece newspaper overseas in the traditional script?

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Quest
Quest:

You do not address the issue why in the neutral area where there is no government decree the simplified script is still not prevalent.

If PRC thinks that simplified script is so wonderful why doesn't it promote the script to overseas Chinese? Why does PRC even print its mouthpiece newspaper overseas in the traditional script?

Because human nature hates changes, because it's none of their(PRC's) business, and because that script is what's used in that particular country, plain and simple.

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skylee

I think the "simplified script sydrome" does exist, but it can be overcome. I could not read my univ textbooks (in simplified characters) without feeling dizzy (this is an excuse, I know), but can now read the whole of 雍正王朝 in simplified characters without difficulties.

It is also not a question of "good" or "bad" languages (this is politically incorrect IMHO). I think the influence of a language or a script is to an extent commensurate with the power of the country/place. Think, if the Mainland is the richer, if it produces more glamourous entertainers/icons of pop culture, etc, will people not turn automatically to the simplified script? The mainland version (in simplified Chinese) of a book by 幾米 costs RMB25, whereas the Taiwan version (in traditional Chinese) costs close to HKD100. Of course I will buy the Mainland version (well there are only a few words in the book is also a factor frankly).

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Ian_Lee

Skylee:

I agree that whichever has the cultural clout (popular culture in particular) has the upperhand.

But I just checked People's Daily top 10 entertainment news of 2003. Four of them were related to HK and one related to Taiwan.

The No. 1 news was the suicide of Leslie Cheung.

Leslie Cheung couldn't even sing Mandarin song.

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Guest cavebear

1) CCP did not really simplify the Character. It simply adopted,officially, the simplier version among the several in use then (and made it a little bit more systematic). In any language there are alway versions for the "elite" and those for " the mob "( vogue). The chinese caligraghy Caoshu ( "sketchy writing" considered the most difficult and admired) has been using the simplified characters for a thousand years.

2) Yes there was politics involved. CCP wants to be considered "revolutionary", standing with the less previlidged. yet there is always a dilema in any language: stability and the need for a change.

CCP or no CCP, languages change with time. Remmeber that the proposal for using the simplier version is not made by CCP, but many intelectuals outside the party. CCP just answered to the call of the time.

Although it is a CCP policy, CCP did not make it that much political. Newspapers, books, dictionaries are printed in Simplified charaters, but no body gets hanged for using the traditional charaters. As the elder leaders themselves were educated with them. So please do not make it political by linking to CCP. Simplified Charater is not a CCP thing, nor is it related to cultral revolution.

3) Yes I take it that I have hand writing problem. But at least I have no problem reading Chinese in both traditiona and simplified character. If people educated with traditional character have problem reading simpliied ones, does that mean they are more mentally challenged or the traditional characters made them so? How do they appreciate CaoShu, which is considered the cream of Chinese caligraphy?

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skylee

I was recently on a cruise on Yangtze. Because almost all the passengers were from HK, the management was thoughtful enough to produce all written information in traditional Chinese. I think they simply converted the materials from simplified to traditional script using computer. But because some simplified characters represent more than one traditional character, and the computer did not seem to be able to recognize which characters to use in which context, we had 皇後, 鬆樹, etc.

Just an example to show the confusion between traditional/simplified scripts.

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Guest timc18

timc18' date=' 時候 in simplified form is 时候 not 时后。[/quote']

oops my bad..ahah simplified really mixes me up..

is it 后面?? for 後面..or maybe not ahah

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Ian_Lee

If the simplification process aims mainly to improve literacy by decreasing the strokes, then how come 後 with only 9 strokes has to be lessened to 后 which still has 6 strokes while the 19-stroke "Jiang" of "Xinjiang" remains intact under the simplified script?

If the system aims to improve easiness of writing, then it should set a standard like all characters that exceed 15 strokes have to be simplified!

But under Mainland's simplified script, there are still plenty of characters with very numerous strokes!

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Quest

because jiang is rarely used. They only simplified common/everyday words that were too complicated.

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techie

I tend to agree with CaveBear regarding the use of Simplified versus Traditional Characters. But again, I think as someone has already pointed in here, it all depends how you want to use it.

In my case, because my field is that of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is important to learn Simplified since most of the material coming from China is in Simplified.

I read Quanxie talking about the need to use Traditional Chinese because he is also in the field of medicine, so I found that confusing. He must be in the western type of medicine and not the traditional.

I also find that a good habit is to compare from day one, the simplified versus the traditional in all the new symbols I learn, but this is only me. It does not mean that every person will set this difficult and time consuming task in the process of learning how to write Chinese.

I believe that learning any language is a personal experiment with oneself and that many paths may lead to the same end! Persistence is quite important whether you are learning simplified, traditional or both.

The task of attacking the learning of Chinese language from all angles is as important. Some feel that taking a classroom course is the way to go. For my money, give me textbooks, audio casettes, good grammar books, VCD from China and I will put the motivation and effort that it takes.

The more I get involved with the language and those I have met from China and Chinese-speaking people in general, the more I want to understand the language. Learning a language is the best leverage one has to penetrate cultures and to make new friends and discover new ideologies and customs.

It is truly rewarding to see, given the little I still know, the wonderful reactions of those who are fluent in the language when they hear me trying! Everyone is being very helpful.

Simplified is the way to go for me, but still I want to understand, or at least recognize the traditional. After all, many of the Mandarin VCD that come from China are in Traditional subtitles, so I want to make sure I know what is being written!

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