15 January 2011
added by KaiWen
Written Chinese has two versions, traditional and simplified. Traditional characters is the style that has been used for centuries, simplified characters were created by the PRC to increase literacy. Simplified Chinese focuses on reducing the number of strokes needed to write it. Not only does this make it easier to write, but it makes it easier to read when in small print, as some more complicated traditional characters are illegible in small type. For example, the word 'Taiwan' in traditional characters looks like this: 臺灣 Not so easy to see right? Let me magnify it:
Even then its not that easy to read. Simplified characters make reading them easier by making them less complex. 'Taiwan' in simplified characters looks like this: 台湾
That makes it more clear, but sometimes the system does not make as much sense.
There are traditional characters that are simple enough yet the PRC's system simplifies them anyway.
Characters like 門 (mén) (gate) look simple, yet they are simplified to 门.
For some simplified characters, they are hardly different from their traditional counterparts.
Characters such as 廈 (Shà) (skyscraper) are simplified to 厦. Can you spot the difference? The one on the left is traditional, the right is simplified.
The simplified one has the small dash on top removed. Wow! That makes it so much simpler!
Traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and overseas Chinese communities. Simplified characters are used in Mainland China and Singapore.
I personally prefer traditional characters because they are more well, traditional. But sometimes I mix them and substitute simplified characters when the traditional ones are insane like the example above.
For someone learning Chinese as a second language it really doesn't make much of a difference learning one system over the other. Its Chinese for gods sake, its going to be a challenge either way. The simplified system was created to increase literacy because they are easier to memorize and write for children who already knew the spoken language.