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daxia

繁体字....why do you keep study them ?

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daxia

Hey all

I have been lurking through theese forums for some time and It seems that the greater part of the people on theese forums study chinese "the mainland China way". Yet, it seems that most of the chinese learning pages you guys link to are using 繁体字,not简体字 that they use on the mainland.

Since the only place they use theese characters (as far as I know) are Taiwan, HongKong and maybe macao, they seem pretty useless to me, yet most of you study them ? I live in mainland China and I have many chinese friends, and although most of them can pretty much read 繁体字, none of my friends can write them, and they pretty much just think that they are a pain in the ass.

So, if the greater part of the Chinese people don't like, or in most cases can not use 繁体字, why do you foreign guys still bother with learning them ?

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roddy

For example? I think your assumptions on what people see as their 'main' character set are wrong - this poll had a very strong preference for simplifed. (edit: actually, that's not what you assume at all, my bad)

Without actually collecting any statistics, I'd say that it depends where the resources are being produced - anything from Taiwan or Hong Kong is likely to use traditional characters, and traditional has traditionally been used in western universities, so anything produced there is likely to use that character set (although this is changing, I believe).

More likely there are more resources for learners being produced in those areas, or at least the resources are more easily found and thus linked to.

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HashiriKata

I think daxia's impression may have stemmed from the fact that many frequent helpers on this board are from HongKong & Taiwan, who would naturally use, & refer to sites which use, 繁体字.

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WangLongju

.

> Since the only place they use theese characters (as far as I know)

> are Taiwan, HongKong and maybe macao,

"only"? Those are some pretty significant places. Taiwan has a population of over 25 million, HK has almost 7 million, Macau has over 400k, and the US alone has over 8 million. (See some stats and other info on Overseas Chinese and Debate on Traditional and Simplfied Chinese.) Granted, not all of the ethnic Chinese in the US use 繁體字, but the larger (which are usually the oldest) communities still predominantly do.

> they seem pretty useless to me

They may be useless to you, but many native speakers still use them. Besides, Taiwan is a very popular place for students from the US to go to for study abroad, so there's some incentive there as well.

> I have many chinese friends, none ... can write them, and they pretty much

> just think that they are a pain in the ass.

Good thing they aren't expected to write them.

> why do you foreign guys still bother with learning them ?

For me, it's an aesthetic thing. For some, the language program at their school only teaches TradCHN (for whatever reason). For others, they might want to read (e.g., historical) material in the original. For still others, they just might like the added challenge (one person's pain can be another person's pleasure :) ).

Remember also that some people simply don't like to study characters no matter what form they take; they just want to learn to speak and that's it. So, for them, if they have to choose one, they will probably choose SimpCHN because they do take a bit less effort to learn (in certain respects).

I am a teacher of Chinese that sees knowing both forms as being beneficial, but I think students should focus on only one form for their first 2-3 years of study (or 1000 characters, whichever comes last). I also believe, as mentioned on the second Wikipedia link above, that learning TradCHN first is more beneficial to students when they move to SimpCHN. I sort of did this when I was a regular student almost 20 years ago. I say sort of, because for my 1st-year CHN class, we learned SimpCHN. Then for my 2nd-year CHN class, our textbook presented both side by side, so I chose to do TradCHN (which the teachers were OK with). Then in my third year of CHN I took both 3rd-year and Classical Chinese, the former doing early 20th century literature and the latter used the standard Shadick books, both classes doing TradCHN. Then I went to China (PRC) for one year and did nothing but SimpCHN and had no troubles (at least nothing that left me scarred very deeply). Then I came back and started my Master's degree at a graduate school where TradCHN was the main form taught. When I started my PhD and was given a teaching assistantship, I had to teach TradCHN. Then in 1997 I went back to China (PRC) and did SimpCHN for another three years. I came back to finish the PhD in 2000 and for the past six years have been teaching in a program that is TradCHN-based again. Again, being able to switch from one to the other can only be said to be empowering.

So, I don't think that one form is necessarily better than the other; rather, both are useful depending on context. I liken it to being able to drive both standard ("stick") transmission and automatic transmission cars (as well as motorcycles). Many people never learn to drive a standard, and end up having to take the bus. However, if you know how to drive a standard, you may find yourself driving a really nice sports car one day.

.

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doumeizhen

Technology is a fantastic thing and it has made it, in some cases, totally unnecessary for students to learn traditional characters. No matter where you chose to study the language, this world is small enough that you can get around having to learn both systems.

However, they are necessary for some of us that work with original texts, like I had to last semester while studying 15th/16th century works. Although I was able to find digital versions online, both in simplified and tradition, there were a couple of kinks: 1. Typing errors in the modern documents, 2. scribal errors in the original documents, and 3. different versions of the original document (because it would be circulated and edited). To work around any or all of these, you have to pull the original texts, read through them piece by piece and compare them. So, as WangLongJu mentioned, for some of us it is necessary as we need it for our research and work, and going on with WangLongJu's metaphor: One can't really understand the pleasures (zooom!) and pains (uphill start?!) of driving until one has learned to drive with a manual transmission. (My car has a manual transmission, does this mean I can stop learning fanti now, please?! :) )

Also, when I lived in China I had a couple of friends (Chinese) who would write in traditional characters because they felt it made them look sophisticated, and they enjoyed the aesthetics of it.

Granted that it is sometimes a pain to work with two systems, I don't see there having been any irreconsilable differences that stem from it. The talk that we should get rid of one system or another is, in my opinion, as important as the talk to teach all of the Chinese English or another non-character language because Chinese in itself is too troublesome. There are much bigger fish to fry.

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tanhql

most people who grew up in a chinese environment can pretty much read both traditional and simplified, even if they only learn one of them. i'm a chinese; i learn simplified, but i can read traditional chinese characters(like in subtitles of a movie etc) without any problem. this is also partially due to the chinese teachers. they will sometimes show the tradtional characters to the students, even though if they are teaching simplified(like the word 听, in tradtional writing it would have a 'ear' radical), to show how are the characters derived. it's only the writing that poses a problem.

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carlo

I learned simplified first, but found switching to reading traditional very easy, after all there are only 200-300 frequently used characters that are significantly different in the two standards, the eye adjusts pretty quickly. At the time the main motivation for me was that 'banned' books were only available in traditional, so 繁體字 had a kind of perverse appeal.

Later I got interested in calligraphy, and understood that for any given character there may be several variants other than just the traditional and simplified forms, and sometimes the variant forms are actually more aesthetically pleasing than any of the standard forms. Now I have come to think that a world with only one set of Chinese characters would be extremely boring.

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johnmck
why do you foreign guys still bother with learning them ?

Why learn chinese at all? Why learn any foreign language other than English? I've been studying Chinese now for several years simply because it interests me, as I do not plan to live in China I doubt if I will ever the use the language to any great extent. As it happens I decided at the start to learn simplified characters, but I could have just as easily decided to learn traditional.

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daxia

Remember also that some people simply don't like to study characters no matter what form they take; they just want to learn to speak and that's it. So, for them, if they have to choose one, they will probably choose SimpCHN because they do take a bit less effort to learn (in certain respects).

I am a teacher of Chinese that sees knowing both forms as being beneficial, but I think students should focus on only one form for their first 2-3 years of study (or 1000 characters, whichever comes last). I also believe, as mentioned on the second Wikipedia link above, that learning TradCHN first is more beneficial to students when they move to SimpCHN. I sort of did this when I was a regular student almost 20 years ago. I say sort of, because for my 1st-year CHN class, we learned SimpCHN. Then for my 2nd-year CHN class, our textbook presented both side by side, so I chose to do TradCHN (which the teachers were OK with). Then in my third year of CHN I took both 3rd-year and Classical Chinese, the former doing early 20th century literature and the latter used the standard Shadick books, both classes doing TradCHN. Then I went to China (PRC) for one year and did nothing but SimpCHN and had no troubles (at least nothing that left me scarred very deeply). Then I came back and started my Master's degree at a graduate school where TradCHN was the main form taught. When I started my PhD and was given a teaching assistantship , I had to teach TradCHN. Then in 1997 I went back to China (PRC) and did SimpCHN for another three years. I came back to finish the PhD in 2000 and for the past six years have been teaching in a program that is TradCHN-based again. Again, being able to switch from one to the other can only be said to be empowering.

So, I don't think that one form is necessarily better than the other; rather, both are useful depending on context. I liken it to being able to drive both standard ("stick") transmission and automatic transmission cars (as well as motorcycles). Many people never learn to drive a standard, and end up having to take the bus. However, if you know how to drive a standard, you may find yourself driving a really nice sports car one day.

Ok, I was going to flame you and stuff, but now I see that you actually are right and that I only would make a fool out of myself. I have nowhere even close to the experience and knowledge enough in Chinese to start arguing with a teacher that has almost 20 years experince of Chinese language. I, myself have studied for 18 months here in GuangZhou, and I am happy that I can almost can completely understand the preschool childrensbooks in Chinese :lol:

Now, I would like to ask you one thing if thats ok. My goal with my Chinese studies is to become as good as a native Chinese person. My 口语 is actually already very good, and most people have no idea that they are speaking with a foreigner when they speak to me on the phone.

The problem lies with Reading and Writing. Although I am making progress, it's still slow. Is there any hope that I one day might be able to read chinese litterature for pleasure without the use of dictionaries, just like Chinese ppl ? Would you say that 3 years studies in china would be enough to books and newspapers, without anyhelp and without having to stop and think about the meaning of characters. Is it possible to make it "natural" ?

Thanks.

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doumeizhen

Of course it is possible! Only, the process of getting there is, unlike the end result, very unnantural and qill require a lot of effort on your part. If you are staying in China, I would suggest pitching all of your foreign language material and reading everything in China. Keep a list of vocab (I do because I think writing it down, even if only once, helps me remember it much better). Once you are good enough, start looking up words in a Chinese dictionary. I also learned to speak before writing, and have a lot to make up. Luckily, I had a course last semester which required all of my spare time to be spent reading in Chinese. In the beginning it was word by word. In the end I could actually read a play (even if I didn't know a character here or there I would be able to guess it out in most of the cases) without looking anything up. It's amazing what your mind can do when it is given no other options.

I guess the way I'd make it natural is by telling my brain that this is natural, and that I just have a lot to learn.

Either way, I hope my example can serve as some encouragement.

加油

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daxia

Of course it is possible! Only, the process of getting there is, unlike the end result, very unnantural and qill require a lot of effort on your part. If you are staying in China, I would suggest pitching all of your foreign language material and reading everything in China. Keep a list of vocab (I do because I think writing it down, even if only once, helps me remember it much better). Once you are good enough, start looking up words in a Chinese dictionary. I also learned to speak before writing, and have a lot to make up. Luckily, I had a course last semester which required all of my spare time to be spent reading in Chinese. In the beginning it was word by word. In the end I could actually read a play (even if I didn't know a character here or there I would be able to guess it out in most of the cases) without looking anything up. It's amazing what your mind can do when it is given no other options.

I guess the way I'd make it natural is by telling my brain that this is natural, and that I just have a lot to learn.

Either way, I hope my example can serve as some encouragement.

加油

Thanks for the support man ! I will just 继续努力 with my studies.

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