Why are there ‘Simplified’ and ‘Traditional’ Chinese characters?Updated on March 15, 2017 in Learn Chinese.
Both Simplified and Traditional refer to written systems of Chinese that have been used in China since ancient times. The Simplified set or style was derived from the Traditional style by the government of the People’s Republic of China circa 1949 to 1964. The majority of “common” people in China could not read their system of writing, it was too complex. As with other developments that took place during this era it was deemed necessary to make a system of reading that was easier to learn and use. Hence “Simplified” Chinese was born. Simplified Chinese consists of an entirely different set of characters with simpler strokes and making them easier to remember as well as read- but this has led to a few problems regarding their original framework.
Today, Singapore, Malaysia, and Mainland China use the Simplified Chinese character set in an official capacity and the mandarin style. In HK that would be Traditional Chinese text, Cantonese style and for Taiwanese readers: Traditional Chinese text, mandarin style.
For everyday use, both sets have been used in nearly every Chinese community at one time or another.
I learned traditional characters in HongKong. Now I can read most of the simplified characters. And some of my friends who are from Chinese mainland also know the traditional version, though they learned simplified version. I think if you already know one character version, no matter it is traditional or simplified, you will soon acquire the other. But for me, writing is a problem.
Generally speaking, People in mainland China are using Simplified Chinese, And people in Taiwan, Hong Kong are using Traditional Chinese. Actually it is standard in each area. And basically only if a website wants to cover all mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong market, they will provide both Simplified version and Traditional version. To most Chinese they can recognize both Simplified and Traditional Chinese, but the one they learned at primary school will be more comfortable to them.
It depends on your future plan to use Chinese, if you would like to use Chinese with HK people or TaiWan people, you can choose traditional Chinese. But in mainland China, you can decide to learn Simplified Chinese. Anyway, no matter it’s simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese, the pronunciation is the same.
I think pick one to start. Don’t try to learn both right away. I learned simplified in china, now I live in japan and the Kanji in the japanese writing is almost always traditional characters so I’m kicking myself.
Simplified are used in China, mainland, while traditional Chinese are used in HongKong, TaiWan,Macau.
If you are going to learn Chinese, simplified Chinese is more recommend, because it is easier to learn and used more widely.
Traditional Chinese is the writing system that Chinese-speakers have used for thousands of years. It’s a very COMPLICATED writing system. These characters have grown very subtle and complex over the years, and learning to write Chinese is a challenge even for Chinese natives. For foreigners, even trained translation services providers, it can be a very difficult process indeed.
Simplified Chinese is exactly that – simplified. Promoted after World War II by the People’s Republic of China, the Simplified Chinese script originally was no different from Traditional Chinese in terms of vocabulary, just in the fact that most of the characters used to write out the language were literally simplified.
Which version to choose? a geography based decision making. If you are simply targeting a geographic region the decision to use Simplified or Traditional Chinese becomes very clear. Simplified Chinese is used in mainland China (PRC) and in Singapore. If you are targeting Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Malaysia you would use the Traditional Chinese method of writing.
To my personal experience, many people versed in one writing system can usually read the other fairly easily. Choose one you like to start with – in this case, Simplified might be easier for you.