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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simplified vs. Traditional Chinese Characters - Which to Learn

This is a touchy subject and there are good arguments on which to learn. Yesterday I was speaking with someone and he referred to Traditional as the correct ones. I commented that someone from China would refer to simplified as the correct ones. I sell products for both and a 10 Level System for Learning Chinese I just got has books for both.

Here are the arguments on which is better, Traditional Chinese Characters or Simplified Chinese Characters:

Traditional Chinese Characters are better because they have a logical order of strokes, have a huge history behind the stroke order, and are easier to learn since less memorization is needed. Traditional Chinese Characters are used in Taiwan, HK, and most newspapers in the US. If you can read simplified, you can read traditional. Simplified Chinese Characters just removed some strokes and it was not done logically/systematically, so more memorization is needed for simplified. Traditional Chinese Characters are also called complicated. Traditional Chinese Characters are also prettier. And with computers, the stroke issue has become less important ( I had not heard this one before).

2. Simplified Chinese Characters is easier to learn since their are less strokes which increased literacy in China. Simplified was implemented after the 49 Revolution by Mao in the 60's. Here is a wikipedia article about the debate on Simplified vs Traditional Characters, it's interesting.

The best comment I read a while ago on the debate was China did not go far enough in the simplification and there is still too much memorization required.

You can usually tell if a person is from China or Taiwan by which system they prefer.

A great book that shows the beauty and history of Chinese Characters is Long is a Dragon. Highly recommended book.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

Good topics! Each of both has its strengths. Surely tradition Chinese is easier to remember us history and culture, but it is obvious that simplified Chinese is more convenience in daily use. China simplify the Chinese characters to keep in pace with times. Personally speaking, Chinese should use simplified Chinese characters in daily life, considering tradition Chinese characters as art work of culture and history.

November 14, 2007 at 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see how it is "obvious" that simplified characters are more convenient for daily use. If I see a "traditional" character that I do not yet know it is much easier for me to guess at its meaning than for a simplified characters. Personally, and speaking as one with hand and wrist issues, I prefer using traditional characters.

April 30, 2008 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Sa said...

i was taught traditional and I've always found that I can read most simplified characters through partially the context and guessing (because it usually is a more simplified version of the original traditional). I would teach my own kids traditional. and then help extrapolate to read simplified

September 11, 2008 at 1:40 PM  

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