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: “Jiǎntǐ” duì “Fántǐ” — “Yǔ” 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:
Jiǎntǐzì hé fántǐzì shì shǔyú wénzì fànchóu de wèntí. Dànshi xiànzài wǎng shàng guānyú zhè gè wèntí de yǒuxiē shuōfa chángcháng bǎ yǔyán hé wénzì hùn zài yīqǐ, yě yǒu rén bǎ wénhuà, chuántǒng děngděng dà màozi kòu zài zhè gè wèntí shàng, jiéguǒ líkāi tímù hěn yuǎn, yě déchū yīxiē 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: “Jiǎntǐ” duì “Fántǐ” — “Yǔ” hé “Wén” Bù Yíyàng
- English: “Simplified” versus “Complicated” — “Language” and “Script” Are Not the Same
- Mandarin in simplified Chinese characters: “简体”对“繁体”：“语”和“文”不一样
- Mandarin in traditional Chinese characters: “簡體”對“繁體”：“語”和“文”不一樣