Most of the recent remarks on the Web about China’s recent discussion on the use of traditional Chinese characters have been, predictably, waaaay off-target. I’ve been trying to ignore them for the most part and not jump up and down while shouting irate things about this. But, still, the topic deserves some remarks.
Fortunately, Zhang Liqing, one of the associate editors of the much-beloved ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary, has generously contributed an essay that addresses some of the basics of the matter: “Ji?nt?” duì “Fánt?” — “Y?” hé “Wén” Bù Yíyàng. It’s now available here on Pinyin.info in both Mandarin (both Pinyin and Hanzi) and English versions.
Here’s the opening paragraph in Mandarin:
Ji?nt?zì hé fánt?zì shì sh?yú wénzì fànchóu de wèntí. Dànshi xiànzài w?ng shàng gu?nyú zhè gè wèntí de y?uxi? shu?fa chángcháng b? y?yán hé wénzì hùn zài y?q?, y? y?u rén b? wénhuà, chuánt?ng d?ngd?ng dà màozi kòu zài zhè gè wèntí shàng, jiégu? lík?i tímù h?n yu?n, y? déch? y?xi? bù zhèngquè de jiélùn.
And the same paragraph in English:
The question of simplified and complicated characters belongs to the scope of script. However, some recent discussions on the Internet often confuse script with language, and there are also people who cover up the question with heavy topics such as culture and tradition. The result is that the discussion becomes far removed from the question itself, and, at the same time, arrives at erroneous conclusions.
The complete essay is available in four versions:
- Mandarin in Hanyu Pinyin: “Ji?nt?” duì “Fánt?” — “Y?” hé “Wén” Bù Yíyàng
- English: “Simplified” versus “Complicated” — “Language” and “Script” Are Not the Same
- Mandarin in simplified Chinese characters: “??”?“??”?“?”?“?”???
- Mandarin in traditional Chinese characters: “??”?“??”?“?”?“?”???