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Jun 9, 2009

characters

As Culture.tw has pointed out, President Ma Ying-jeou is now championing a compromise to unify the writing systems of Taiwan and China, effectively suggesting people on both sides learn to read traditional though perhaps write in simplified script.


Frankly this idea of teaching both systems is long over due: the saddest thing about the simplification process was that it actually made Chinese more complicated by requiring readers to know two forms of what would otherwise be one character in order to be fully literate.

At the same time, people seem to guess pretty well without formal training on either side of the strait. And this is not the kind of policy that requires reciprocal action to implement either!

This will probably go somewhere eventually -- the Chinese are planning a partial re-traditionalization of their writing system anyway, which could make compromise easier -- but dont' expect this to be a high priority.

6 comments:

Tim Maddog said...

The real question is "Why is it such a priority for Ma Ying-jeou?"

I've got a "Simplified" Chinese character for Mr. Ma: !

Tim Maddog

Daniel said...

Which traditional characters would you be willing to trade for simplified ones? If Taiwanese students are taught both forms then many of the traditional ones will quickly disappear. I find Ma's suggestion pretty disturbing.

Taiwan Echo said...

To my knowledge, kids who learn Chinese spend two more years than those who learn English-like language before they are able to read a newspaper.

Now they might have to add one more year on top of that.

"people seem to guess pretty well without formal training on either side of the strait. And this is not the kind of policy that requires reciprocal action to implement either!"

I am not sure about this. For myself, I can read simplified Chinese, but that's because I know Chinese calligraphy very well (many of the simplified characters are based on older form of Chinese writing). But very few people have this ability.

One more factor is, it's one thing to guess some characters, but it's hard for people to actually read an article, in which they have to guess most of the way, which impairs the flow of reading.

One more thing: in this digital times, how many compose an article or letter by actually hand-writing ?

Dezhong said...

"Why is it such a priority for Ma Ying-jeou?"

Maybe it's a little bit exaggerated, but I thought there was a rather obvious analogy to a time in China's history when (among many other things) the style of written Chinese was, well, unified.

Taiwan Echo said...

It's obvious that Ma is trying to push Taiwan to a stage that integrating into China is the only option.

㊣獨裁復辟-馬始皇:「書同文,車同軌,行同倫」

In fact everything he did points to that direction:

開放12吋晶圓赴中真正目的不是讓中國取得技術

FOARP said...

By the way, the Mainland is most definitely not planning to re-traditionalise characters. Every year the suggestion is made by the usual suspects, and ever year it is shot down. It is only in Taiwan that I have ever heard the idea of re-traditionalisation (if that is a word) taken seriously, usually in self-congratulatory terms. The idea that, having spent 50 years teaching people to read and write one way, they would try to shift to another way, is laughable.