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Traditional Chinese & Simplified Chinese (繁體字 & 简体字)

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Before yesterday's debate about these two types of Chinese at LXP, I didn't know that this problem bothers some people and that Traditional Chinese writers can read Simplified Chinese easily.

Highlights of the debate:

Traditional side: Traditional Chinese  is the carrier of the 5000-year-long Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese articles, poems, and books are written in Traditional Chinese. A lot of the cultural essence is thrown away in Simplified Chinese.
Simplified side: Simplified Chinese can be written efficiently. Modern society's economy benefits from efficiency. Therefore, Simplified Chinese is more suitable for economy development, especially when you want to do business with the billion-population Mainland China, where people mainly use Simplified Chinese. For those who care about the lost culture, they can learn Traditional Chinese to get it back.

Traditional side: Since Simplified Chinese is derived from Traditional Chinese, if you only know Traditional Chinese, you can still read Simplified Chinese without much effort, but if you only know Simplified Chinese, you probably have difficulty reading Traditional Chinese.
Simplified side: Simplified Chinese is easier to learn and thus easier to attract learners from all over the world, while the complexity of Traditional Chinese scares away a chunk of potential learners.

Traditional side: The Traditional character of "love", "愛", contains the "heart" character "心", while there's no "heart" in the Simplified character. Without a heart, how can you love?
Simplified side: The Simplified version "爱" has a "friend", "友", on the bottom. And a friend is whom you give love to.

My opinion: Decades ago, it might not be the best idea to simplify Chinese, but as it is already simplified today, people in Mainland China should keep using it. Although Traditional Chinese is the cultural carrier of the past thousands of years, Simplified Chinese has carried the culture of the past decades and will carry more in future. At the same time, Traditional Chinese regions should keep using Traditional Chinese so as to preserve and enrich the culture in it. Changing to Simplified Chinese is futile for them. I believe that for a very long time, if not forever, both types of Chinese will coexist and chip in the Chinese culture together. I'm glad that in Chinese classes students can use whichever type of Chinese they like.

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Posted at 2008-04-03 21:08:40

Comment: Re: Traditional Chinese & Simplified Chinese (繁體字 & 简体字)

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“Traditional Chinese  is the carrier of the 5000-year-long Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese articles, poems, and books are written in Traditional Chinese.“

表面看好似是对的,但是它忽略了汉字的发展历史,所以不正确。
因为历史上汉字其实经历好几次的简化,甲骨文,小纂,隶书,楷书,其它的忘记了。每一次的变化都是很大的,甚至比繁體字到简体字的变化更大。你只要看看那些古汉字就知道了,不要说学会写,连看都好难看出它是什么字。
他说的Traditional Chinese其实只是特指楷书。并不是“the carrier of the 5000-year-long Chinese culture”,真正的carrier,你要把以前所有的古汉字都使用了才算。

有些人不明白汉字简化的历史,有些人甚至认为简体字是共产党做的,把这个问题政治化,是不适合的。简体字的方案其实是在国民党时代开始提出的,用意和现在的一样,为了让更多人学会写字,因为当时的文盲率更高。共产党只不过将其改进一下并付诸实行而已。

当然简化字简化得好不好是一个问题,这个问题应该从汉字构造以及用其它相关的知识讨论。简化得好的就用,简化得不好的就不用。一些简化得不好的字其实已经不使用了。像“耀“,”器“,都用回原来的写法了。

还有不同时期的情况也不同。现在教育普及,文盲率不断下降。电脑的普及也使得人们不那么经常写字了。还有全世界华文圈又需要一种统一的汉字。汉字将向什么方向发展呢?或者说汉字的作用有什么新的变化?是追求向传统字靠拢?是尊重经济事实(中国大陆的13亿人)?还是追求汉字字体的最优化(意思,图像,字形的最佳结合。不论是简体/繁体字如果有不符合规则的都改)?

注意到我们是处于这样一个时期,作为汉字的使用者,最好就是繁简双修吧。

网上有很多这方面的资料,有兴趣可以去看看。

Last edited by zyx at 2008-04-05 13:33:23

Posted at 2008-04-05 12:34:15
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