Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chinese Characters

I am glad a prominent figure has spoken up for the traditional Chinese characters. President Ma Ying-jeou is trying to place it under world cultural-heritage list with the UN.

Besides President Ma, Sinologists too have expressed concern that people taught in the current simplified system of Chinese characters cannot read books written in traditional form, cutting them off from thousands of years of cultural heritage.

The traditional Chinese characters are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also able to transmit the meaning of the word through its form. It has been in used for more than 3000 years to document Chinese history.

Besides Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are also using the traditional forms. However with Hong Kong and Macau returning back to mainland China control, it is a matter of time before they will switch to the simplified form. Simplified characters were launched in 1956 by the Chinese communist government to boost literacy rate in rural provinces, by reducing the number of strokes in the Chinese characters.

It would be a pity and a cultural loss should one day traditional Chinese characters are only study by scholars and no longer use in everyday setting.

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