Simplified Chinese characters

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Simplified Chinese characters is one of the two commonly used forms of writing Chinese languages. As its name shows, it is simplified from the original written form, which is called the Traditional Chinese characters.

History[change | change source]

Simplified Chinese characters were first put to public use in 1956 by the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong. Along with many other educational changes, the change would help the mostly illiterate Chinese to read and write. The hope was to have the Chinese language become more like the Japanese language, in which the Empire of Japan brought a lot of changes to the Japanese writing system during the Meiji Restoration to make education more widely available to all Japanese citizens. Mao hoped that the simplification of Chinese characters would begin a shift away from the character system itself that would eventually lead Chinese-speakers to using only a phonetic alphabet to write. In hopes of promoting phonetic writing, the CCP was also working creating a standard romanization to accurately represent the pronunciation of Standard Chinese, pinyin, which was introduced to primary schools in 1958. In 1964 the language was further simplified. Again, in 1978, changes were made, as well as in 1984. Many people did not like these changes because too many characters with different meanings were merged.

Current use[change | change source]

Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, while people living in Mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia use Simplified Chinese characters for their writings.

It is not proven that Simplified Chinese characters help people with reading and writing. Other places using Traditional Chinese characters did not have literacy problems. In 2009 Pan Qing-Lin, a Chinese official, suggested to end using Simplified Chinese characters. The idea was rejected.

In multi-racial societies, like Singapore, students learn two languages for many years. Simplified Chinese characters are welcomed by students. People who learned the simplified set had little problems switching over to Traditional Chinese characters set. Even to this day, the need to use Traditional Chinese characters have many reasons, such as working in Hong Kong or reading older books that have not yet been translated to Simplified Chinese characters.