List of new Simplified Chinese Characters to be announced

April 15, 2009 by  
Filed under language

Chinese Dictionary According to Window of China in a recent article - the People’s Republic of China will be issuing a modified list of simplified Chinese characters.  This is in hopes of standardizing a language written by billions internationally.

China first introduced the simplified character in 1956.  The process included decreasing the number of strokes for each character to make it easier to learn.  In 1986 the official count of simplified characters was 2,235. 

Many people have felt that the symbols have been oversimplified, which have made the characters more difficult to understand.  This new release is intended to help solve this confusion. 

Don’t expect the new characters to be fully restored to traditional Chinese as that would require an entirely new education for the Chinese people.  Although many Chinese people see the traditional Chinese characters as a way to preserve their culture.

What do you think?   


4 Responses to “List of new Simplified Chinese Characters to be announced”
  1. Trevor says:

    Great post. I find it interesting and ironic that Hong Kong and Taiwan - territories largely independent of the mainland - are the only places where the traditional Chinese characters are widely used in public, non-academic life.

    I study Chinese, and I’m not attempting to tackle the traditional characters just yet. Simplified is hard enough for an American.

    Watching me agonize over the writing, my wife recently asked my why China doesn’t just Romanize their writing using a standardized system like pinyin. Aside from the fact that there are thousands of homonyms that depend on the characters for distinction, why should it be China’s job to conform to the rest of the world?

    As its power grows, China will need to accommodate English, the lingua franca of international affairs, but at the same time, the world’s most populous nation will be less likely to change its own writing system for the sake of outsiders. The Chinese call their country the “middle kingdom” for a reason.

    That said, further standardization could boost literacy and aid economic development. The simplified character system - aside from a unified country that has led to China’s current successes - could be the most enduring of Chairman Mao’s few positive contributions to Chinese society.

  2. Beverly Cornell says:

    Thanks Trevor for your comment! Wow, I commend you for learning Chinese as that is a huge commitment!

    You make a great point about China and the lack of westernization of their language. However, did you know that there are more people in China that speak English than there are Americans? They are learning English in school…something I think we American’s need to take queue from. I think our school system is critical to making us competitive for future generations.

    Xie Xie!

  3. Trevor says:

    I am aware about the number of English speakers in China, but you have to be careful about whom you define as an English speaker. As anyone who has dealt with outsourced IT services knows, someone who can say words in English doesn’t necessarily equate to an English speaker in the sense that we usually mean it.

    But your point is taken: The U.S. lags in language studies. Right now, this isn’t such a big issue, because English is currently the lingua franca of international affairs. (I just returned from a trip to Europe and have traveled to China a few times. English is everywhere.) But like you said, when the balance of world economic power shifts, future generations will be sorely unprepared if we don’t start learning other languages now.

  4. Beverly Cornell says:

    Their numerous English speakers are a heck of a lot better than our very few Mandarin speakers. ;-)

    Thank you so much for your passion and interest!

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