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Genuine Chinese in Taiwan

When it comes to Chinese learning, people may wonder which one to learn: the simplified or the standard?

Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue to over 873 million people,making it the most widely spoken first language in the world. However,only around 30 million people of Taiwan and Hong Kong recognizetraditional characters. Taiwan is the only country in the world thatpreserves traditional characters and lists Mandarin as one of theofficial languages.


Which one is easier to learn? Simplified or standard?

A quick thought to simplified Chinese characters is that they contains less strokes, thus it should be easier?

This is partially true only for the new learners. The reality is that you need to learn the same amount of characters whether you learn the simplified or the standard? Furthermore, when your character amount increases to some higher level, the major effort goes to memorizing radical position, meaning and relationships, instead of the strokes of single word.

That being said, you will find simplified Chinese characters fairly confusing because some lack the major radicals and share unrelated common radicals. Radicals of Chinese characters are based on a logical system, which make it easier to expand 214 radicals to more than 20,000 Chinese characters.

In a word, standard Chinese characters might frustrate you at the first few months, but it paves a easier way to apprehend lexical forms and appreciate the beauty and wisdom of words if you aim to master Chinese.

Standard Chinese Characters are crucial for understanding Chinese Culture

All Chinese classics were created with standard Chinese charactersUnderstanding traditional Chinese characters, which have been usedfor over 3,000 years since the Shang Dynasty, is crucial for understanding Chinese culture. Because all the Chinese classics were created in the form of standard Chinese characters.

The aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy can beembodied only through standard Chinese characters. The profound wisdom behind the standard Chinese characters is an indispensable element of Chinese culture.

Should I learn the simplified or standard?

If you are a serious learner, learn both the simplified and the standard, but do start with the standard.

Learning standard Chinese characters makes it easy to recognizethe simplified ones, but the reverse not. The following example makes agood metaphor:

Standard English:

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The Hong Kong government said Monday that riotpolice have pulled back from pro-democracy demonstrations around thecity that have caused widespread disruption in one of Asia's financialhubs. Defiant demonstrators remained on the streets of Hong Kong'sfinancial center, blocking traffic on key highways a day after clasheswith police that left more than 40 people injured.

Simplified English:

HK CNN -- d HK gov sad Mon. dt riot pls hv pu'od bk fmpro-dmcrcydmnstr-gen ard d cty dt hv cozd wdspred dzrap-gen in 1 oasia's 5nncio hubs. Dfiant dmnstrtrrs remand on d st. o hk's 5nnciocntrr, blokin trffk on ki hywayz 1 day aft klshz wz pls dt lft mo dan40 ppl injrd.

The future of Chinese

Genuine ChineseNowin China , more and more students and professors turn to standardChinese characters. Increasing retrospection on the simplified Chinesecan be seen everywhere in China. Even the Chinese people who have usedsimplified words for over 60 years now discover it does not make sense.

For example, the simplified Chinese character of love is very weirdbecause it eliminates the important part - "心" from the originalcharacter, that means the heart. How can you love people without havinga heart? The logic is wrong and the wisdom is gone.

The famous Swedish sinologist, Göran Malmqvist, learned the simplified Chinese characters at first and later changed to the standard one. He is the one in the west world who advocates the renaissance of standard Chinese characters in order to reserve the whole repertoire of Chinese culture.

Blog to Göran Malmqvist: http://goranmalmqvist.blogspot.tw