Debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters


Debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters
Debate about the simplification of Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese 漢字簡化爭論
Simplified Chinese 汉字简化争论
Traditional-simplified debate
Traditional Chinese 繁簡之爭
Simplified Chinese 繁简之争
Traditional-simplified debate
Traditional Chinese [1]簡之爭
Simplified Chinese 正简之争
Chinese characters
Chinese characters logo.jpg
Scripts
Precursors · Oracle bone script · Bronze script · Seal script (large, small) · Clerical script · Cursive script · Regular script · Semi-cursive script
Type styles
Imitation Song · Ming · Sans-serif
Properties
Strokes · Stroke order · Radicals · Classification · Section headers
Variants
Standards on character forms
Kangxi Dictionary form
Xin Zixing
Standard Form of National Characters
List of Forms of Frequently Used Characters
Standards on grapheme usage
Graphemic variants · Hanyu Tongyong Zi · Hanyu Changyong Zi · Tōyō kanji · Jōyō kanji
Reforms
Chinese (trad. · simp. · simp.2 · debate)
Japanese (old · new · Ryakuji)
Korea (Yakja) · Singapore (jiăntǐzì biǎo)
Sinoxenic usage
Kanji · Hanja · Hán tự
Homographs
Literary and colloquial readings
Derivatives
Kokuji · Korean hanja · Chữ Nôm · Zetian characters · Nü Shu · Idu · Kana (Man'yōgana) · Bopomofo · Sawndip · Khitan large script · Khitan small script · Jurchen · Tangut
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The debate on traditional Chinese characters and simplified Chinese characters is an ongoing debate concerning Chinese orthography among users of Chinese characters. It has stirred up heated responses from supporters of both sides in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and among overseas Chinese communities with its implications of political ideology and cultural identity.[2] Simplified characters here exclusively refer to those characters simplified by the People's Republic of China (PRC), instead of the concept of character simplification as a whole. The effect of simplified characters on the language remains controversial decades after their introduction.

Contents

Split orthography: a problem?

The sheer difficulties posed by having two concurrent writing systems hinders communications between mainland China and other regions, although with exposure and experience a person educated in one system can quickly become familiar with the other system. For those who know both systems well, converting an entire document written using simplified characters to traditional characters, or vice versa, is a trivial but laborious task. Automated conversion, however, from simplified to traditional is not straightforward because there is not a one-to-one mapping of a simplified character to a traditional character. One simplified character may equate to many traditional characters. As a result a computer can be used for the bulk of the conversion but will still need final checking by a human.[3]

The writer Ba Jin, in his essay "Thoughts: Reform of Chinese characters" (随想录·汉字改革), urged caution in any reforms to the written Chinese language. He cited the inability of those educated in Hong Kong or Taiwan to read material published on the mainland, and vice versa, as a great disadvantage of simplified Chinese. He also cited the ability to communicate, not just with Chinese peoples of various regions, but also with people from across the Sinosphere — countries such as Japan and Vietnam — as a great advantage of the written Chinese language that should not be undermined by excessive simplification.[4]

Cultural legitimacy

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Proponents say that the Chinese writing system has been changing for millennia: it has already passed through the Oracle Script, Bronzeware Script, Seal Script and Clerical Script stages. Moreover, the majority of simplified characters are drawn from conventional abbreviated forms that have been in use for centuries[5] such as the use of 礼 instead of 禮 ,[6] and some simplified characters are in fact restorations of ancient forms that had become more complicated over time. For instance, the character for "cloud" was originally 云, but the character was borrowed to write a homophonous word meaning "to say". To disambiguate the two uses of the character, the "rain" radical (雨) was added on top when it meant "cloud", forming the current traditional character 雲. The homophonous word meaning "to say", however, has become archaic in modern Chinese, though 雲 continues to be used for "cloud". The simplified version simply restores 云 to its original use as "cloud".[6]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • While some simplified characters were adopted from conventional abbreviated forms that have existed for a long time, many of the changes made were found by many to be "unnatural" such as the removal of the symbol for heart (心) from the word love (愛) into the new character (爱) without 'heart'. To many, the new 'heartless' love character conflicts with Confucianism which emphasizes filial piety and humanity.[7]
  • Pro-traditional commentators say that the changes through the history are merely alteration in writing styles, not in the structure of the characters, especially after the Qin standardization. They also claim many other simplified characters were arbitrarily designed by the government of the PRC to pervert traditional Chinese culture for political reasons in order to carry out what the PRC viewed as modernization. These critics say that many characteristics underlying various Chinese characters, including radicals, etymologies and phonetics were ignored and destroyed in their simplified form for this reason. One frequently-cited example of this argument is found in the character for "sage" or "holy", 圣 in simplified and 聖 in traditional. The simplified character removed the king radical (王), replacing it with soil (土). Supporters of simplification note that 圣 (literally meaning holy) is an ancient component used in characters like 怪 (literally meaning crazy or queer), and that 圣 was used as a variant of 聖 before the PRC even existed.[7]

Literacy

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Proponents feel that simplified characters having fewer strokes makes it easier to learn.[8] Literacy rates have risen steadily in rural and urban areas since the simplification of the Chinese characters, while this trend was hardly seen during 30 years of Kuomintang (KMT) rule and 250 years of Manchurian rule before them, when the traditional writing system was dominant, though this rise in literacy may not necessarily be due to simplification alone.
  • Although Taiwan, which uses traditional Chinese characters, has a better literacy rate, proponents point out that with a population 50 times larger and landmass 260 times bigger, the illiteracy in mainland China is much more difficult to eradicate. In 2004, the only provinces of China where the illiteracy rates were lower than Taiwan's were Guangdong at 3.84%, and Guangxi at 3.79%.[9]
  • The literacy rate in mainland China is higher than that of Taiwan when compared at the same GDP per capita.
Year Literacy Rate ( Mainland )[10] GDP per capita ( ppp, Mainland )[11] GDP per capita ( ppp, Taiwan )[11] Literacy Rate ( Taiwan )[12][13] Year
1964 66.42 - - - 1964
1982 77.19 325.021 - - 1982
1988 - - 7,907.18 91.7 1988
1990 84.12 795.912 - - 1990
2000 93.28 2,372.14 - - 2000
2003 - - 22,392.91 97 2003

Pro-Traditional characters

  • The literacy rate of Taiwan and Hong Kong is higher than that of mainland China, compared for the same year.[14]
  • Although the adoption of simplified Chinese characters is correlated with increased literacy rates, correlation does not imply causation.[15][16]
  • Aside from correlational arguments, the only other form of evidence offered in support of script reform success through character simplification is anecdotal.[15]
  • The validity of statistics about literacy rates in mainland China is questionable.[17]
  • The increase of literacy rates in mainland China is likely due to educational reform.[18]

Disambiguation

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Proponents feel that some traditional characters are too similar in appearance, such as 書 (shū) "book", 晝 (zhòu) "daytime" and 畫 (huà) "drawing": the simplified forms are 书, , and , which look much more distinct.

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Opponents claim the reverse: simplifications make distinct characters more similar to each other in appearance, giving the "shape recognition" mechanism of the reading part of the brain ambiguous clues. An example is 無 () "none", simplified into , which looks very similar to the existing character 天 (tiān) "sky". Also, 設 (shè) "designate", and 沒 (méi) "without", are quite similar in their simplified forms 设 and and can result in confusion in rapid handwriting (Another example of the same kind is 活 (huó) "to live" and 話 (huà) "talk," which in simplified are 活 and 话 and can be misinterpreted in rapid handwriting). Similarly, some simplified characters create more confusion. In traditional writing, 千 (qiān) "thousand", and 乾 (gān) "dry" are very different characters. In simplified writing, the same characters appear to be almost identical, being 千 and 干, respectively.[19]

Merger of characters

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Classical Chinese mainly used one character to form one word, which made it very common that one character had multiple meanings and multiple pronunciation: "天" means "sky" (天苍苍), "heaven" (天将降大任), "nature" (浑然天成), "weather" (心忧炭贱愿天寒); "长" means "length" (cháng, 长一身有半), "specialty" (cháng, 一技之长), "grow" (zhǎng, 草木遂长), "senior" (zhǎng, 以君为长者), etc. And context is vital to determine the meaning of a certain character in Classical Chinese. After the early 1900s' Vernacular Chinese movement, words were mainly formed by multiple characters (mostly two), and today one word usually has only one meaning: "天空" means "sky", "上天" means "heaven", "天然" means "nature", "天气" means "weather", "长度" means "length" , "生长" means "grow", etc. Context is not necessary to determine the meaning of a certain word. Merging characters with few meanings in identical or similar pronunciation, actually does not make reading more difficult when using Vernacular Chinese: "头发" (頭髮, ) means "hair", "出发" (出發, ) means "set off", "谷物" (穀物, ) means "grain", "山谷" () means "hollow". Instead, simplification simply reduces the number of characters one would need to learn for modern life.[20]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Simplified Chinese characters frequently include merged characters, which opponents view as baseless and arbitrary: 後 (hòu, "behind") and 后 (hòu, "queen") are both simplified into 后. Likewise, 隻 (zhī, a measure word) and 只 (zhǐ, "only") are merged into 只; 發 (, "happening") and 髮 (, "hair") are merged into 发; 穀 (, "crop") and 谷 (gǔ, "valley") are merged into 谷, and so on.
  • On 3 September 1993, the Board of Language Usage & Applications of China permitted and re-introduced the usage of the character ‘鎔’ and released a new policy of Resolution for the Complication in Using Character ‘鎔’ and Its Usage Re-introduction (《关于“鎔”字使用问题的批复》). The movement was an attempt in trying to resolve the controversy caused by the conflict between the lawful mergers of characters of ‘鎔’and ‘熔’ and the name usage of former Vice Premier Zhu Rongji. According to earlier Chinese laws regarding Chinese Language Simplification, character ‘鎔’should have always been written as ‘熔’; however, Zhu Rongji insisted on writing ‘鎔’ when it came down to writing his name because he was originally named in the character ‘鎔’but not ‘熔’. Thus, the Board later re-introduced the character. Supporters of traditional characters often use this example in against the use of simplified Chinese, especially when it comes down to mergers of characters in names of historical heroes, scholars, philosophers, and political figures. They also complain about the trouble in flight reservations alike when traveling in and out of mainland China due to the mergers of characters.[21]
  • Professor Wang, at Beijing University of Education, also the Vice President of Chinese Language Association, and an official of Ministry of Education of China, agreed and criticized that some characters were oversimplified during the simplification campaign, and thus more difficult to learn, apply, and use. Wang particularly pointed at merged characters borne with these problems.[22]

Speed of writing

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Simplified characters have fewer strokes. For example, the common character 邊 (biān, meaning "side") has 18 strokes in traditional form, while its simplified form 边 has only 5. Proponents of simplification claim this makes them easier to write.[8] Characters with more than 15 strokes are especially difficult to write.[23]
  • Input methods for electronic devices are commonplace today and can be thought of as a form of simplification of Chinese characters .[24]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Opponents[who?] say that the speed advantage of simplified Chinese becomes less relevant in the computer age. With modern computing, entering Chinese characters is now dependent on the convenience of input method editors or IMEs. Some IMEs use phoneme-based input, such as pinyin romanization or bopomofo, while others are grapheme-based, such as cangjie and wubi. These have mainly sidelined the speed issues in handwritten Chinese, as traditional and simplified Chinese often have the same input speed, especially with phoneme-based IMEs. Furthermore, even when it comes to handwriting, a majority of people resort to semi-cursive script to reduce strokes and save time.[citation needed]

Phonetics

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Proponents point out that Chinese characters are most often made up of a pronunciation-indicating part (called the phonetic) and a part that indicates the general semantic domain (called the radical). During the process of simplification, there are some attempts to bring greater coherence to the system. For example, the shape of 憂 (yōu), meaning "anxious", is not a good indicator of its pronunciation, because there are no clear radical and phonetic components. The simplified version is 忧, a straightforward combination of , the "heart" radical to the left (indicating emotion) and the phonetic 尤 (yóu) to the right.[citation needed]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Opponents point out that some simplified forms undermine the phonetics of the original characters, e.g. 盤 (pán, plate) has the phonetic component 般 (bān) on top, but the simplified form is 盘, whose upper part is now 舟 (zhōu). 盧 (, a family name) and 爐 (, "furnace") shares the same component 盧 in their original forms, but they were inconsistently simplified into 卢 and 炉 respectively, so that 炉 now has the less helpful 户 () as its phonetic.[citation needed] Some characters were radically stripped of all phonetic elements. An example of a traditional character simplified such that its phonetic element is totally removed is 廣 (guǎng, meaning "extensive"), of which the internal character 黃 (huáng) is enclosed within a 广. Simplified, the character is written without its internal phonetic element: 广.[25]

Radicals

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Proponents say that the radical system is imperfect in the first place. For example, 笑 (smile, laugh) uses the "bamboo" radical.
  • The removal of the radical 雨 from the traditional word 電 (electricity) is a sign that Chinese is moving into the modern era because 雨 (rain radical) symbolizes that electricity comes from lightning. However nowadays electricity can come from more sources than just lightning; thus proving that the simplification of 電 to 电 is a more realistic approach in developing a better Chinese for the modern world.

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Some argue that simplification results in a broken connection between characters, which makes it more difficult for students to expand their vocabulary in terms of perceiving both the meaning and pronunciation of a new character. For example, 鬧 (din, fuss) is now 闹, with the door radical 门 that is not indicative of its meaning. Another instance is the simplification of 愛 (love) to 爱, where the simplified version removes the radical 心 (heart).
  • The round of characters simplified by the Communist party was not systematic.[26] Extensive studies have been conducted among different age groups, especially children, to show that reducing the strokes loses the radical and phonetic relationships between the characters. This actually makes it more difficult for simplified character readers to distinguish the characters, since they now rely heavily on memorization.[26]
  • Some traditional characters are very distinct. Such as electricity/lightning 電, rope 繩 and turtle 龜. After the simplification process all three characters appear to have the same components even though they have no relationship at all. Respectively electricity 电, rope 绳, turtle 龟 can be easily confused. The simplification of the word electricity/lightning 電 to 电 also took it out of the natural context. It no longer belongs with snow 雪, thunder 雷 and clouds 雲.

Aesthetics

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Simplified Chinese characters are more legible when small fonts are used. The fine details of traditional Chinese characters are easy to discern in large size calligraphy but a number of very complex characters are much harder to identify when smaller fonts are used and complex character components can merge together. This problem is exacerbated by low-quality printing. The recognition issue applies to some OCR software as well.[citation needed] Such software is more accurate with hanzi with fewer details.
  • About 30% of simplified Chinese characters match simplified kanji (see shinjitai).[27] This makes it easier for people who know simplified characters to be able to read and understand Japanese kanji. For example, the character 国 (country) is written the same way in Japanese (国) although in traditional Chinese it is 國.

Pro-Traditional characters

  • Traditional Chinese characters are often used as the de facto standard characters set in Chinese calligraphy in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and even in the PRC, presumably because of its aesthetic value.[28] This is one of the very few exceptions that the PRC government permits the use of traditional Chinese characters in mainland China.

Pragmatic considerations

Pro-Simplified characters

  • Despite the promotion of traditional Chinese characters, they are still used by only some 50 million people, including those in Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong and many overseas communities.[29] Simplified Chinese has come to dominate the written form of Chinese used nearly all over the world, due to the size and rising influence of mainland China.[30] The United Nations has also used simplified Chinese since 1973.[31]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • While written communication with the large population of mainland China and other communities requires the use of simplified Chinese, there are compelling practical reasons which require the use of traditional characters. The Republic of China (ROC) is the largest community of traditional character users and ROC President Ma Ying-jeou pushed for the removal of simplified Chinese from Taiwan on June 15, 2011. Government documents and websites are to only use traditional characters and while simplified characters are not banned in Taiwan the president strongly encouraged the exclusive use of traditional characters, even in the tourism sector.[32] This move to protect traditional characters ensures that visitors to the Republic of China will need to learn traditional characters if they wish to use Chinese.[33]
  • Another common practical reason for the continuation of traditional characters is the expansive cultural legacy of Chinese history and art prior to simplification. The written form did evolve over the centuries but the traditional character set used today is much more closely related to the written Chinese which has been in use for thousands of years. As such the traditional characters are said to provide access to Classical Chinese and Chinese culture prior to simplification.[34]

Politics and Cultural Preservation

The long history of Chinese characters and the role of the Chinese Communist Party in the design and adoption of simplified characters means that there is often a strong political aspect to the debate on the usage of traditional and simplified Chinese characters.

Pro-Simplified characters

  • While the use of simplified Chinese is often associated with the PRC and its ruling Communist party the connection today is not as simple as it once may have been. Many simplified Chinese texts are published outside of mainland China. Overseas communities are now increasingly using simplified characters, especially when publications are intended for a mainland Chinese audience.[citation needed] Chinese newspapers in Singapore and Malaysia are mainly published in simplified Chinese. Most university Chinese programs in the United States and France teach simplified characters, with the number expected to continue to rise.[35] The internet is also increasingly diverse, with many websites including Wikipedia offering an easy switch between simplified and traditional scripts.
  • Character simplification began in 1956 and had origins going back to the early 20th century before the founding of the PRC. Character simplification was not a part of the Four Olds nor the Cultural Revolution (both began in the mid 1960s). Whether traditional characters were "destroyed" or not is a matter of opinion, others might say they were "modified".
  • Simplified Chinese characters were not entirely developed by the PRC as some of the simplified characters were taken from Japanese Shinjitai.
  • Those who use simplified characters often remark that the issue is a simple one which has been made overly complicated by political considerations. They claim that the use of simplified characters or traditional characters should be decided based on pragmatic or aesthetic reasons, not political ones.[36]

Pro-Traditional characters

  • In the communities where traditional characters are used simplified characters are strongly associated with communism and often have strongly negative associations. As an extension of this, continuing to use traditional characters is a way of maintaining national identity.[37] School children in these areas are strongly discouraged from using simplified characters. In Taiwan especially, simplified characters have been regarded as "Communist" and are studiously avoided.[38]
  • More specifically, character simplification, along with the "Anti-Four Olds" and the Cultural Revolution, is sometimes characterized a "Communist plot" to cut off traditional Chinese culture and values.[39] Simplified characters were banned in Taiwan until 2003.[40] Simplified characters are also branded in Taiwan as "bandit characters" (匪字, literally gangster characters).[41] In the past simplified characters was a variation only learned by specialists doing intelligence work at the height of the Communist China era.[39] Over time, many immigrants who left the PRC quickly learned traditional characters and consider simplified character materials from the PRC to be propagandistic.[39]
  • The use of two different writing systems allows the Communist Party of China to selectively censor. For example, the book Whispers and Moans was very popular in Hong Kong but a simplified character edition was blocked by Beijing's Central Bureau of Censorship. The book which is about the sex trade in Hong Kong was said to conflict with the mainland's Marriage Law.[42]

Government enforcement

Pro-Simplified characters

Developments in Recent Years

In recent years, the official Campaign of Simplification of Chinese Language has caused many highly controversial discussions in the general public to higher level of the government in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and amongst some international organisations.

2007

In an effort to address the pressing need for a common language, World Health Organization published a book named International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region in October 2007. The purpose of preparing and publishing the book is to translate the terminologies in the field of traditional Chinese medicine between English and Chinese. However, WHO has chosen to print the book in Traditional Chinese characters but not Simplified Chinese. It is believed by many that it has been the first time in history that the government of mainland China has 'accepted' any international organisations releasing any publications printed in Traditional Chinese characters without opposition, since the start of Chinese Language Simplification Campaign.[45][46]

In November 2007, scholars and representatives from Japan, Korea, mainland China, and Taiwan came to Beijing and joined the Eighth Annual International Conference of Chinese Language Study. The conference was conducted and hosted by the National Office of International Promotion of Chinese Language and Board of Language Usage & Applications of the Ministry of Education of China. Immediately after, Korean media reported that the scholars and representatives reached a few conclusions after long discussion in the conference. One of those conclusions was that scholars would be using Traditional Chinese characters to standardise 5000 common Chinese characters across the countries and would continue to allow the use of Simplified Chinese characters if there happened to have one across those different areas. However, Chinese officials claimed that they did not reach such an agreement but would like to see the harmonious coexistence of Traditional and Simplified Chinese. Still, to many, that was the approval from Chinese Government because they were no longer absolutely opposed to the use of Traditional Chinese.[47][48]

2008

In March 2008, a well-known Mainland author, Gan Wang, published a review article on his personal blog about the possibility of the re-introduction of Traditional Chinese, What About Abolishing Simplified Chinese within the Next 50 Years?.[49] The article then caused a heated debate in many public forums.

Later in the Mainland Lianghui Meeting 2008, 21 Members of Lianghui proposed a bill to re-introduce Traditional Chinese education in primary school curricula to secure the place of core Chinese culture from eroding over generations. The proposal was then rejected by the Minister of Education. The Minister explained, 'Our nation has its fundamental governing principles. [One of them, by law, is] to promote the usage of Simplified Chinese and Mandarin. This is the basic condition… Thus, we will not consider re-introducing Traditional Chinese education in our primary school curricula.'[50][51][52][53]

On 5 July 2008, on his visit to famous Taiwanese writer Koarn Hack Tarn's home, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou promised that he would not introduce the usage of Simplified Chinese into the territories just because of the local newly passed policy to let Mainland tourists visit Taiwan but to provide side-by-side translation so that Mainland visitors could appreciate the aesthetic nature of Traditional Chinese. And he also told journalists that he wished all Chinese people would eventually be using Traditional Chinese in the near future.[52]

In Taiwan and Hong Kong, it is not rare for people to use Simplified Chinese in informal writings. Although a very small portion of people support the introduction of Simplified Chinese education, the majority of people are strongly against teaching Simplified Chinese in schools. In these areas, it is unnoticeable of any trends of using Simplified Chinese in personal blog, public forums, news journals, magazines, and other mass media.

While in Mainland China, not only has the number of pro-Traditional Chinese scholars, professionals, lecturers, and teachers been steadily increasing but also a trend of using Traditional Chinese in artworks, advertisements, business cards, personal signatures etc. has been observed more often in the general public as well. Some people even actively engage in reading books, plays, and poems printed in Traditional Chinese characters. Voices of official permit of co-existence of Simplified and Traditional Chinese or full re-introduction of Traditional Chinese alike are getting louder and more common in Mainland China.[54]

2009

In early 2009, the ROC (Taiwan) government launched a campaign to obtain World Heritage status for Traditional Chinese characters in a bid to preserve them for the future.[55]

During Lianghui Meeting 2009, Member of Lianghui, Mr Pan Qing-Lin proposed a bill to abolish Simplified Characters successively and reintroduce Traditional Characters step by step within the next 10 years. He explained his three major reasons for the proposal in terms of the destruction of the scientific and aesthetic aspects of Chinese characters, the enhancement in technology diminishing the fast handwriting advantage of Simplified Characters, and the potential benefit for Taiwan unification progress. He also believes that the name used in Taiwan for Traditional Characters, Orthodox Characters, is very meaningful indeed. Furthermore, he explicitly supports Taiwan's Campaign for World Heritage Status for Orthodox Characters and feels the pressure on Mainland Chinese Government from the Campaign.[citation needed] In addition, another Member of Lianghui, Ms Chen Jun followed Pan's moves and called for Mainland Chinese Government's supports for the Campaign. Along with the support for the Campaign, Ms Chen suggested the introduction of Traditional Characters education into the primary and secondary education. She expected the introduction of Traditional Characters education would increase and improve schoolchildren's and teenagers' passion for and understanding of traditional Chinese culture and language.[56] Again, like the similar proposals in the previous year of Lianghui Meeting, these proposals caused heated public debates across Chinese communities around the globe and was rejected by the Mainland Government.

On 11 March 2009, shortly after the Lianghui Meeting of 2009, famous Swedish linguist, member of the Swedish Academy and the Committee of Nobel Prize in Literature, Professor Göran Malmqvist (Chinese: 馬悅然) commented in his interview,'"Grid Characters" (Chinese Characters) are the most developed language in the world. Simplified Chinese Characters used in Mainland China will eventually be replaced by Traditional Chinese Characters. I am very confident of that.' He also believes in which sacrifices should be made for reintroducing Traditional Characters.[57]

In April, Mr Lee Yu-Ming, the undersecretary of the Board of Language Usage & Applications, confirmed to the media that the Mainland Government would release a new measure regarding usage of Chinese characters within a year. Under the new policy, a new Table of Standardised Characters would be created to restrict people from using any ‘non-standard characters’. Mr Lee estimated the Table would consist of more than 8,000 characters. He emphasised that the new policy would not permit anyone to use ‘non-standard characters’, especially for their names. People would have to use characters straight from the Table. The undersecretary also pointed out that the Government would not reintroduce Traditional Chinese after serious considerations.[citation needed] However, probably for the very first time, experts and officials from the Board admitted some Simplified Characters had been over-simplified and made imperfectly, and consequently, more difficult to learn, apply, and use. Hence, the newly created Table would provide an opportunity to redress the problems.[58] In addition, these professionals agreed the priceless values of the informative nature of and the cultural inheritance borne within Traditional Characters and the necessity of being able to recognise them.[59] In order to form better evaluations of the suggestion to reintroduce Traditional Characters, the officials invited 91 senior students to sit for an exam testing the knowledge of Traditional Characters. These students are potential teachers with outstanding GPA in majors of Ancient Chinese Language and Ancient Chinese Literature from Beijing Normal University. Only 3 students passed. These officials then concluded the suggestion of reintroduction of Traditional Characters would cost a lot. However, they agreed the policy of ‘Knowing Traditional; Using Simplified’ would be a feasible policy.[60]

See also

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References

  1. ^ In Taiwan, traditional characters are officially known as traditional Chinese: 體字; simplified Chinese: 正体字; pinyin: zhèngtǐ zì; literally "proper characters", while most Chinese speakers outside Taiwan, whether using simplified or traditional characters, refer to traditional characters as simplified Chinese: 繁体字; traditional Chinese: 體字; pinyin: fántǐ zì; literally "complex characters". For details on the difference in naming, as well as the differences in usage of the same names in different Chinese-speaking regions, see Traditional Chinese characters#Chinese names.
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