Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Traditional or simplified? Debate on Chinese characters should be decided by pragmatics, not politics | SCMP | Paul Stapleton

Traditional or simplified? Debate on Chinese characters should be decided by pragmatics, not politics | South China Morning Post
LETTER TO SCMP:
There's no need for the kerfuffle over use of simplified characters in Hong Kong. (Alex Lo and Paul Stapleton, recently). 
I learnt Chinese as an adult, first in Beijing in the mid 1970s. Being Beijing, I was taught simplified characters. In later full-time study in Hong Kong I learnt the traditional forms. I found this a pretty straightforward process. 
What is rarely mentioned by commenters is this: that simplified characters are most often derived from a cursive version of the traditional.  For example: 言 (yan) is written cursively as 讠. This character is also a common radical, so it is a part of many characters. In one stroke (as it were) you've learnt both forms of hundreds of characters. 
Learning a few basic rules for the connection between simplified and traditional characters allows anyone to be literate in both. In short order. 
By the way, if there's a sensible order in which to learn, it's simplified then traditional: walk before you run. (Though it's no big drama if it's the other way around). 
Take it from me: if I can learn both simplified and traditional forms of Chinese characters anyone can! 
Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay 
9308 0799