UN to drop traditional Chinese characters: report

The other day at the meeting Zhou Youguang spoke at, a PRC official announced that beginning in 2008 the United Nations will cease issuing any material in traditional Chinese characters. Only versions in “simplified” characters will be released, he said.

I hadn’t known the U.N. was still using traditional characters at all.

46 thoughts on “UN to drop traditional Chinese characters: report

  1. I wonder if the motivation for this is simplicity — i.e. reducing unnecessary duplication of documents and saving on printing costs. Or is it more political? Surely if Taiwan or Hong Kong had representation in the UN China could not easily force such a change.

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  3. Anything that’s more efficient is good in my book. Most people in Taiwan and Hong Kong are getting over emotional over this issue, saying “Traditional characters will become extinct and we’ll all have a dead language!!!!!” ignoring the fact that this isn’t a debate about a separate language, but merely different ways to write the same character. Then we have the tired old arguments that traditional characters are “inherently” better at conveying meaning (does ? convey anything intrinsically? I’m stuck…), and the typical “appeal to tradition” type arguments. What most people tend to forget or ignore is that even if you know all the characters in the world, you’re still stuck when you read Classical Chinese because it’s an entirely different ball game.

  4. Haha PTAN, if you can’t see any meaning in Trad. Chinese characters, your Chinese must not be very good. The connections are bountiful, so obvious, some more vague. The reason that the UN will only use simplified characters is because they’re the only chinese speaking countery in the UN. China has already taken over Hong Kong, and they’re trying to take over Taiwan as well. Simplified Chinese? Mind as well start another Cultural Revolution.

  5. I was born and raised in Hong Kong, thank you very much. To assert that most characters convey an unambiguous, intrinsic meaning simply by looking at it is certainly one of the most unscientific and widespread myths around. De Francis certainly debunks it very well. Most characters are shape-sound compounds,with a phonetic element as a main part of a character instead of a meaning oriented component. With that level of phoneticness, surely sound rather than meaning is what’s conveyed in most cases.

    The lion’s share of Chinese webpages in existence are in simplified characters. It’s an unavoidable trend, like it or not. Besides, your argument that the “only reason the UN will use simplified characters is because they’re [PRC] is the only Chinese speaking country in the UN” is pretty weak. There’s an objective, and irrefutable argument for the exclusive use of simplified characters. Avoidance of duplication – saves money, saves paper, saves time. Efficiency. Never has a more sound economic reason existed. Why not use traditional characters only? Because 90% of the Chinese in this world use simplified characters. The majority drowning out the minority. Lest anyone talk about “evil Red China”, I should add that democracy is just that – the will of the majority. The UN uses BRITISH spelling for English (http://www.un.org/search/user_help.html). Your argument collapses – the USA, the mightiest country in the world, is an English speaking country that is on the Security Council, no less. Yet their spelling isn’t adopted by the UN. Why? Again, efficiency. How stupid would it be to have two (or more)copies of each and every document simply to cater to all the variant spellings/character systems in the world? I can’t imagine the Americans, New Zealanders, Canadians, and Australians causing a ruckus over spelling. Everyone ignores the sound economic reason and goes for a political attack on the PRC. It’s in vogue. Of course, converting to an alphabetical system would solve the traditional vs simplified “debate” once and for all…..

  6. wei4 he2 bu4 lian2 jian3 ti3 ye3 yi3 qi3 fang4 qi4 gai3 yong4 pin1 yin1?
    Why don’t we just abandom all chinese characters and use pinyin? I bet the Chinese will then think this is a cultural issue, not political.

  7. I agree with PTAN that UN should produce documents in one Chinese language only. But, I don’t necessary agree that Simplified Chinese is the one. The argument that PTAN mentioned regarding UN using BRITISH English instead of USA English is an interesting one. Personally, my take on this is that UN choose to use BRITISH English because it is the original English language. If you apply this same argument to Chinese, then Traditional Chinese characters should be used since it follows the original Chinese character set the closest.

  8. short hand english is more proficient as well isn’t it? why don’t we just abolish the need to spell words with an excess of letters and save our selves a couple seconds of our lives? I’m young and american born, but i myself feel a connection with traditional chinese. I have been studying Chinese on my own for a number of years and have actually found it easier to learn traditional because of the ease in discovering relationships between meaning and sound. In the US i know a number of dual-language schools that teach in traditional first because they have found that traditional allows the children to better understand the meaning. After a couple of years they teach a children the simpflied equivalent. Also, in my opinion, the spelling differences between UK english and US english is minimal thus there is little room for comparison. Traditional and simpflied chinese on the other hand are two ‘spellings’ if you will that are much different. If a US english book was given to a 4th grader in the UK he would likely be able to read it without a problem, but if a simplfied book was given to a 4th grader in tw or hk I think the results would be much different. Again this is all just my thoughts, no need to take a 17 year old seriously. also the following is just a personal complaint but i find simpflied chinese to lack elegancy. Also in many instances, the same character will be used for several traditional characters.

  9. I don’t have much time to leave a note. But I’d like to say the traditional chinese language itself is a beautiful art. The words are put together by many parts and each part means something. Why take away all that for the sake of simplicity? If it’s simplicity we want, why don’t we all just speak english? If that’s what we want, why do we naturally have appreciations for other culture’s writing and speech? Think about it.

  10. I’m from Taiwan. I don’t understand why our language will be abolished. Nobody has rights to abolish a language, right? The traditional chinese is very beautiful although it’s difficult to write. Every word has its own special meaning. I can’t imagine my life without traditional chinese, without my beautiful language. It’s gonna be very terrible. :( NO WAY!!

  11. All logistical arguments aside, remember that the UN is a political organisation. The factors that influence its decisions are primarily political, secondarily economic, and quite often don’t even result in decisions that are considered fair or equitable. You absolutely cannot ignore the argument that this is the result of the PRC’s growing international political muscle, especially with regard to the issue of Taiwan. The British-English vs. American-English issue is not one of recognising British spellings as being more “original” but a practical decision based on the British Empire’s history of spreading its language to all former colonies. While the surveys will show a population of Chinese predominantly using the simplified script, the analogy breaks down on the level of intelligibility, per iducky’s good example. Duplication of documents, on the other hand, should rightly be seen as a silly argument on the UN’s behalf, as document costs are hardly an area that drains their budget to any significant degree. This is about power, about influence. This is about politics.

  12. I’d like to interrupt for a moment to issue one of my stock reminders: Chinese characters are not a language. That’s true of both the traditional and “simplified” forms.

    Thanks. Back now to your comments.

  13. I think rather than dropping traditional chinese characters, they should drop simplified. As the fact of the way they had translated it “Traditional.”

    And by doing that, if i remember correctly, Hong Kong is still using traditional chinese characters as well as Taiwan. Traditional Chinese has the beauty of Chinese Characteristic.

    As by saying this you may think i’m childish(and indeed i’m only 18)
    Once my Mandrain teacher back when i was still in Taiwan thought me.
    “the character of ‘love’ in traditional and simplified.
    in traditional chinese, the same word has a ‘heart’ in it, that’s how you to feel the love and to give. on the other hand, simplified chinese had excluded the ‘heart’ part and made it ‘easier’ to write.
    So where is the love?”

    Same as Canadians spell “centre” but Americans spell “center”
    why don’t the UN do something about it then?

  14. I can’t think of anything that is more important than bashing the PRC. Since when has anything in COMMUNIST China ever been the will of the people? Have we all forgotten that Communist China is a dictatorship? It is obvious to me that the communist Chinese government is behind this NOT the people of China. It was China’s concept to adopt simplified Chinese to dumb down the language. I for one, will never support anything that a communist dictatorship proposes.

    Too bad Bush didn’t set his gun sights on communist China instead of Uraq. I guess he feels it unimportant that 1.3 billion people have freedom. Or maybe multinational companies feel it unimportant.

  15. good god, but simplified chinese is so ugly and the art and beauty of the language is lost. Sorry, you may find that an absurd reason, but I love the beauty of the written characters the way they were.

    As far as “simplicity” is concerned, true, simplified chinese is faster to write by hand. We are using mostly computers now a days and I see no difference in output/words per minute between simplified and traditional characters. But I can tell you one thing I do notice: simplified characters are uglier and sure look pathetic in calligraphy. In korean and japanese, their utilization of chinese characters are not of the simplified sort but of the traditional sort. Will they adapt too? I doubt it.

  16. This is a very sad day for Chinese Culture. Simplied Chinese is a tool to control the masses in Mainland China. As for most people who only learn simplied Chinese wont be able to understand traditional chinese, which are used in Hongkong and Taiwan both places have freedom of speech. Imagine, if you use English in England and you will be send to jail??? Sounds rediculus??? But it is illegal to use Traditional chinese in china and you will be sent to a jail. What the UN doing is helping a tyrant government to killed its culture for their polictical agenda. How sad it is that even UN an organization who was supposed to defend human right help a tyrant government to achieve a murderer of a Nation’s culture??? How could the UN took part in this second culture revolution. I guess the bride money is huge this time. Corrupted China and now corrupted UN.

  17. To those westerners commenting here, the UN’s proposal is tantamount to saying, ‘Let us abolish all serif fonts’. That is the best equivalent I can think of, as a typeface designer. This is not a value-based argument: both simplified and traditional Chinese can trace themselves to valid, pre-revolution roots, just as italic and roman can.

  18. The traditional way of writing is a culture in itself.
    They are built from basic ‘radicals’.
    One gets the meaning, understands them from their ‘form’.
    The understanding of them is a statement of the education one
    As most people, even the ones in Mainland China, would acknowledge, the simplification has gone too far.
    They have destroyed the beauty of the culture, and mixed up the usage of the characters.
    Returning to it would be difficult but not impossible.
    Abolishing the traditional (the PROPER way) of writing is abominable.
    But, when everyone else in this world is choosing instant gratification, following suit does not
    justify the cause.

  19. @Jack Yan “To those westerners commenting here, the UN’s proposal is tantamount to saying, ‘Let us abolish all serif fonts’. That is the best equivalent I can think of, as a typeface designer. This is not a value-based argument: both simpli?ed and traditional Chinese can trace themselves to valid, pre-revolution roots, just as italic and roman can”

    The simplied chinese is a tool to control the press in mainland China. Books need to be translate to Traditional Chinese to Simplied chinese. It is not a font. In mainland china the book is now being translated to so called simplied chinese during the process the communist party add political index and reference under the book. People who cannot understand traditional chinese have to rely on those index and reference to interpretate and the TRANSLATION OF THE ORIGINAL BOOK. A TRANSLATION not a ORIGINALS. Today, Most hongkong and taiwanese can understand the ORIGINAL book without any inflence of the Government. Thanks to our traditional writing and reading skill. The evil communist who had started the culture revolution and then, now try to take away our heritage by working with a foreign oganization with it bride. UN and Communist shall pay for all this.

  20. I am not a political activist by habit, nor generally an excitable person in real life, but on this occasion I am impelled to write to you strangers on the Web for the sake of my people. And by my people I don’t mean Chinese-speaking persons of one nationality or another, but people of every nationality who care for language, culture, and the collective spirit of humanity.

    Having lived in Taiwan for several years and received not an insubstantial amount of education there, my immediate thought upon learning of the “traditional Chinese” abolition threat was: My reality is fading away – the likes of me are being marginalized despite our erudition and dedication – I am soon becoming a rarified museum item, a live fossil, and I’m not even thirty years old yet!

    Is this some kind of revival of the post-Beatnik “don’t trust anyone over thirty” mentality going on? No. It’s the Red Army at work again. Remember the Red Army? That was the gang of deluded and terrified teenagers who went around accusing their parents, neighbors and friends and killing them on any excuse to play to the tide of conformity which said: “Everything old and traditional is evil and must be eradicated for the liberation of the proletarian.”

    Language is culture. Culture is tradition. The move to abolish the use of a language is a gesture toward the renunciation and repudiation of a people’s consciousness. It is, as so many of you have remarked, a new phase of the cultural revolution. What’s so great or important about writing in traditional characters? Others have explained before me, I needn’t throw in my oar. Why are we worked up about it? Read the other blogs. What’s in it for me?

    Being one of the most respected handful of Chinese-English translators in my city, I am inexorably obsessed about language. You might assume my advocacy strictly based on an unwillingness to adapt to the times and a residual, dogged prejudice from the sniveling KMT-era anti-Communist ideological upbringing that I got in Taiwan. No; it is not that, and also more than that:

    As a natural-born American, I despise any government’s attempt at snuffing out the diversity and depth of the individual. Having left Taiwan as a disgruntled child seeking to escape the bigotry against my exercising my own talents, I never feel the urge to kiss up to Taiwan politically, and when I hate the Communist Party I do so on my own terms. I hate Commies because of what they have done (to those of you overseas who never had the first-hand information: filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s “Living” is no sensationalistic sketch – it only scratches the surface of the horrors). I regret the Cultural Revolution and the likes of it in Russia, in Poland, and elsewhere, on behalf of all humanity. I resent the fact that so many people were killed, tortured, and otherwise persecuted merely for being born to a certain social class or for having had a college education. Some of my own relatives in China at the time were dragged off to labor camp; one, an engineer, was beaten daily until she killed herself in madness despite having a loving husband and children to look after.

    This is the infernal machine (pardon the Jean Cocteau reference, but its verisimilitude is appalling) which insisted on dividing up families into age- and sex-segregated tenements to prevent domestic violence. This is the regime which, until just over a decade ago, would not allow ordinary people to travel from one place to another, whether to visit family or to expand their horizons, without written official permit. This is the regime which, even today, changes people’s hukou (legal residency status, allowing you to stay in one place instead of another) for ulterior motives regardless of the individual citizen’s will to live and work where he likes, in the profession he chooses; and regularly prosecutes those who dwell anywhere but in their hometowns. This is the system which, over half a century ago, promised liberty and the equality of wealth, and on that pretext produced a country wherein the discrepancy between rich and poor exceeds that of any capitalistic nation.

    I am not making this up. I have stood on streets in PRC and seen the faces of thousands staring emptily forward into a life of uncertainty, a world without promise, overwrought with resignation before the mighty juggernaut of “progress” that does not stint on the loss of blood and hope and love in the name of the Grand Unification. The people accustomed to it work not for ambition, but for the momentary preservation of self and for ephemeral joys. They do not anticipate a tomorrow; and if you walk up to ask a question, they will not even care to answer. Times will change, as will the slogans. China will open up to business and efficiency, but human life is cheap in a land of over a billion inhabitants. People have no respect for one another’s souls under totalitarian rule. Communism is evil. Be warned by Ayn Rand.

    Will you swallow whatever lies the politicians brew up to support their power-lust? Will you be so naive as to believe that the UN’s move to stop producing traditional Chinese material a simple choice for reducing printing costs? If you are so simple, so gullible, you might as well have believed that your bank got rid of identity theft protection and traveler’s hotlines in its cost-effective streamlining process in order to serve you better. There’s more at stake here than a few measly pamphlets to typeset. It’s the relegation of the souls of one-fifth of the world’s population to the living perdition of ignorance and selfless subservience.

    The issue of replacing traditional Chinese characters with a more convenient printing method has been around for at least a hundred years, since before the Communist reign. I agree that today’s issue is more than a problem of typesetting or transliteration. Having had to face at least four transliterative systems (including the abominable Wade-Giles and Far East), I recognize that simplicity of entry method is nothing in the computer age. Having taught in a Chinese school, I feel the increasing importance for children everywhere, not just overseas, to know their roots. With what knowledge I have obtained in my few years on this earth, the professional writer in me chose to dedicate a portion of my career to the portrayal and unmasking of evil wrapped in euphemisms. This is an evil in a euphemism.

    Fight, friends, wherever you are, in any way you can! One year they threaten to take away your freedom of speech. If you let them, it is only a matter of time until you find yourself gagged and bound without offering any protest. The day soon comes when they will cut your throat as you sit there insipidly smiling because you think you are but one tiny and meaningless individual in this universe, completely insignificant and dispensable.

    I am not advocating the preservation of traditional Chinese out of cowardice. I can speak and write in two major world languages other than English and Chinese. As an amateur musician, I have sung twenty languages, neither more nor less. Learning a new way to communicate is easy for me. I am not afraid of having to read and write simplified Chinese on a regular basis. All you who are able to use language with reasonable ease realize that more is at stake than a type font. Our world, our identity, and our shared heritage hang in the balance as, each day, the way we address one another is challenged by giant corporate interests. Of all big businesses in the world, government is the largest. Don’t let the smell of money out there wipe out your sense of truth.

    In PRC, specially “gifted” children learn traditional Chinese characters and study classical literature the way world-class athletes are trained: dedicatedly, ruthlessly, heartlessly. They learn by rote, and their curriculum demands of them only the completion of their academic work. They are not taught such basic virtues as civic duty, punctuality, piety or justice. They are trained machines, cool and unfeeling as the assassins whom we hear and read about daily suicide-bombing the Middle East and elsewhere. In a few years, those hard and insentient creatures will be the only people in China who remember anything of our rich and glorious past. If we let the politicians abolish the use of our native language, those will be the only survivors to carry on what remains of our collective consciousness, a poor vestige like the shattered artifacts lying wasted and unwanted in the shadowy Gu Gong museum dust.

    Let the French fight over the survival of their circonflex and quibble about the invasion of “sushi” in their vocabulary. It is their birth right. And we, the Chinese, have the right to make a racket about the survival of our traditional characters. This is not for one little diacritical mark or one unfamiliar word. It is the essence of our being. We have the right to rage over a regime’s attempt to drain the blood from our language, to perform taxidermy on an ancient and living national spirit dating back to the mythological times of Cang Jie.

  21. Shouldn’t UN protect human’s right?? UN is not going to care about traditional Chinese users? UN just decided to kill one country’s culture!! Tradional Chinese characters are not just the language. They are the spirit and the 5000yr culture!! PPl in Mainland China dont have choice to use simplified characters; however, ppl in other places are still using traditional Chinese characters, and they are proud of it. Because traditional characters is their culture!! But what UN just decide?? They want to kill Chinese’ cuture. UN decide not to respect Chinese’ 5000 year history background. UN doesn’t respect 5000 year histroy Chinese culture!! What is HUMAN RIGHT??? There is NO respect and NO human right in UN! They don’t care about Chinese’ culture!! It’s DISCRIMINATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! United Nation DISCRIMINATES CHINESE!!!!!!

  22. Something I would like to point out to those that have used the British English and American English analogy: the way words are formed in both types of English use the exact same alphabet, with no alterations, and the changed in some words are minimal. A child could easily realize that the “re” and “er” sounds make no real difference at the ends of words such as “theater/theatre.”

    As someone pointed out before, if there was another Chinese-speaking country represented at the UN, there would be more of a political issue to keep traditional Chinese. But since Taiwan walked out of the UN of (more or less) of its own accord, there is no way to come to a decision, a compromise, politically.

    It’s true that simplified Chinese is easier to learn, especially if one is learning it as a second, or third, language. There are less characters to learn, and one does not get red marks all over a paper for writing a homophone. However, traditional Chinese is physical Chinese culture. Yes, there are obscure characters that have a bajillion strokes and rarely used, but usually the way the word is written with all the sub-characters in it show the meaning and usage of the word. Simplified Chinese then, is more of a rote memorization process. Much of the beauty that is found in traditional Chinese is not found in simplified Chinese. There is a balance that is given to each Chinese character, and although learning it takes time, it does teach one to appreciate the language. Simplifed Chinese takes away much of the story behind each character away, to replace it with something much more mechanized.

    Also, if simplified Chinese becomes the only way to write Chinese, you can be sure many people who have grown up using traditional Chinese will often be confused or laugh at what is seemingly innocent in simplified but obscene in traditional. For example, “dry goods store” in simplified can be translated to “f*** good store” in traditional. Now who wants that?

  23. Personly i think simplified Chinese should be abolished since it only exist for 50 years and Traditional Chinese have 5000 years of history. So if Traditional Chinese is destoryed you have done a great deal of damage to the Chinese history. As in the whole group of Chinses, not the red or blue China

  24. The word “listen” in the philosophical traditional Chinese character shows “pay whole-hearted attention with your mindful ears and concern eyes”. U.N.: please “listen” to 4,000 years of experiences and lessons – there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.

  25. It is only UN, right? Most of us regularly read documents from the UN. As many has said in here, language is a culture. Culture evolves rather than enforced. If we do not give up on the characters…what is UN’s power over us? (unless we voluntarily submit to that…)

  26. Characters are tools for people to express thoughts across people, space and time. One can appreciate Shakespear best through learning “traditional” English. Shorthand English simply will not do justice, albeit efficient.

    Let’s look at the background of traditionial characters vs. that of the simplified characters.

    Traditional Chinese characters that are used today have been around for more than 3000 years and many dynasties. Politics did not destroy them. They have manesfested themselves in every aspect of Chinese culture as we know it. Go to any museums or libraries that hold the original writings, paintings, artifacts, etc. or visit historical sites in China or temples, people who learned Traditional Chinese can directly appreciate what their ancesters were trying to convey to them.

    Simplified characters are created by the Chinese Cummunist party few years after they took power in 1949. Their holding on to power is not through the consent of the people, but by force. In the ensuing years, thousands of thousands Chinese died in waves of movements and revolutions. The people were brutalized to the ponint of incapable of challenging the legitimacy of the “government.” We all learn from Chinese history, or history of any nation for that matter, that this type of power will not last long. The Communists forced use of the “simplified” characters, forced teaching the new generation Chinese the “simplified” characters, without giving them any choices. After 50+ years, the Communists artificially created a “majority” of Chinese that simply cannot communicate with their ancesters directly. Tragically, some of the new generation Chinese, unbeknowst of the Communists’ plot, think the “simplified” characters are simple to write and “efficient.” It is understandable that it would be earth-shattering for them to know that their basic comminication tools is a product of a political purpose from a “government” whose legitimacy to govern is questionable.

    Fair judgement of which “version” is better to passdown to future generations of Chinese depends on understanding of both in our generations. UN’s decision today is manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party of today.

  27. I have seen some interesting points raised above. However, can I please ask those who claim that the UN decision will destroy Chinese Traditional Characters to calm down about this issue and look at the facts.

    The UN are not ‘abolishing’ traditional Chinese Characters! The UN’s decision will not have an impact on the Chinese language at all; in fact, this is not its intention anyway. Nor does their decision mean that Taiwan and Hong-Kong will not be able to use traditioanl characters. The UN do not have this kind of power or influence. No international entity does. It is chosing to use simple characters as one of the official languages but this does not mean that it discards others. It is simply an administrative process, not a policy or a political statement, and does not reflect on or suggests which of the two forms should be used by its people. The decision to use either form of language rests with the individual states that use them and the UN does not have power or influence on its use. This will not destroy 5000 years of Chinese culture.

    So everybody is getting up in arms at cross purposes and unecessarily. As per usual, people just take information at face value without checking the facts in detail and become paranoid and dellusional with no real evidence to show for their fears. There is not a threat to Chinese culture by the UN. Nor is there an intention to create one.

    Even if there was, how could you kill a written language? You can gradually destroy a spoken language, but not a written one, especially such a unique, widely archived and studied one as that of Chinese. And that is a unique characteristic of the Chinese language/culture which will guarantee its survival and prevailance forever. Chinese culture is so deep-rooted that it is totally preposterous, and in fact, it is insulting to the proven solidity of Chinese culture, to suggest that the UN’s decision would come even close to destroying Chinese culture.

    Can I also point out to S. above that Taiwan never ‘walked out’ of the UN, quite the opposite they were expelled by the General Assembly in 1971 and have been fighting ever since to get back in. Just a quick note, but this shows that people really need to check their facts before they take part in discussions. The lack of knowledge is exactly what causes fear and ultimately violence and war. Decision-makers end up not listening to the people because they tire from hearing the exaggerated moans of people who do not speak with constructive and learned arguments.

  28. This is about UN stop issuing documents in a certain way, not about UN abolishing a language. The language will not be forgotten if the people remembers it, books in traditional language will still be published. One change that may help is publishing costs of any particular language be covered by its country. As long as the documents are issued as Unicode also, the unicode char-set will enable everyone to read those documents.

  29. The United Nations has not primarily used traditional characters in much of their publication material for a number of years.

    The argument that eliminating the traditional Chinese script for simplfied Chinese script is an interesting one. I doubt very much the rationale behind the United Nations’ decision is for economic reasons. Printing or publishing materials in traditional or simplified Chinese will not be any different in price if they are worried about cost. The stroke count for simplified Chinese is obviously fewer than traditional, but the time supposedly saved by writing it is miniscule. While studying the two styles, my classmates and I often timed ourselves to see if there was any noticeable difference in time saved by writing the simplified. We found over and over again the time saved was anything other than noteworthy.

    I firmly believe any action the United Nations will take on this issue will be largely because of the political influence from Beijing. Why else would the United Nations bother with an issue as discontinuing the use of a traditional script?

  30. Each organization does what it can to benefit its members. That’s pretty simple to understand.

    Take a look into the costs involved in mass-printing in multiple language. Most printing press I’m aware of charges once per typesetting. The volume printing cost per typesetting does get cheaper the more copies you order, but they are still charged per typesettting.

    The only thing I would assume would be the reasons are political/economic and need based. Until Taiwan becomes a member nation once again, printing the documents would be like making dinner for guests you know would not arrive.

    Arguing politically everytime something goes against Taiwan, does not demonstrate its ability to become a member nation within UN. It becomes a “Cry Wolf” display after a while.

    Politically, Taiwan can not stand against a nation many times its population. Economically, Taiwan has the ability to make a difference. Focusing on your strength is the true way to win in any situation.

  31. I’m not sure, would these be kind of hard to understand in simplified or the same.

    ? ?????
    3.???? ?


  32. one of the initial reasons for making this new simplified language is to have the population become illiterate towards the old scholarly text. aside from that, simplifying the chinese language also brought a boost in literacy rate, which helped the economy. theres a reason why taiwanese and hongkong citizens are ’emotional’ about it. aside from that being their first language, theres a historical significance that should not be forgotten. traditional is the pure language for chinese. it’s true that through generations its been made overly complex. but every word was invented meaningfully. its sad to see UN neglect its importance. Anyhow, i will always keep traditional chinese preserved :p

  33. Traditional Chinese? I just want to make a point that chinese people had developed many versions of chinese (not just traditional chinese and simplified Chinese), later version always simpler than old version. So if your arguement is to perserve the chinese language, why do not Taiwaness use the oldest version of chinese, if that is your point. The reason Taiwaness do not use is because it is very hard to learn.

  34. There are approximately 200 million people who today recognize and use traditional characters. Specifically, some 125 million people in Japan (where some limited simplification has occurred), 20-30 million in Taiwan, about the same number of older Korean adults in South Korea. (Of course, newborns and young children are excluded as well as illiterates, but let’s not quibble.) Add in a smattering of several million outside of East Asia, such as Chinese, Japanese and Koreans who live overseas, and a few odd non-Asians who have studied those three languages.

    As a four-decade non-Asian student of Chinese characters, it is clear to me that knowing traditional allows you to read simplified. Knowing simplified allows you to do no more than scratch your head when confronted with traditional. I’m happy to know and continue to learn traditional.

    The UN is dropping traditional? Just another bad decision in a misguided organization based strictly on political considerations. Specifically, the UN is seeking to placate the PRC in its continuing effort to isolate the rogue province of Taiwan from other nations.

    About 200 million people use Arabic. The UN is certainly not considering dropping that language is it? No, of course not, because no major power is pushing such an agenda.

  35. alright.. why abolish this?

    WE chinese people have a culture behind those letters.. traditional should remain the simplify must go..
    simplify should just use it for fast reading stuff.. and traditional for documents..
    cuz simplify chinese was created by china.. so they Taiwanese Spies couldn’t read what it meant..

    so abolishing simplify chinese.. is like getting the roots off..

    and why UN has anything to do with the language department.. they should mind more about the environment, economic in Africa then the culture..
    UN people are doing this debate to make more money?!
    doing useless debate.. how fun.. clap clap clap..

    anyhow you guys better keep it, cuz i smell wwIII behind all this..

  36. I have something else to add.. for those who dont know what is traditional and simplify chinese.. (specially not chinese people) just dont add any comments.. saying that the culture wont be influence..

    chinese letters were pictures.. and they took more years then the western civilisation to become actual letters..
    so if u want to abolish traditional chinese.. then it will b an insult for us,
    it’s just like if this world was control by chinese people, we will abolish modern english writing.. how will that make you feel?!

    so yea..

    and a chiense letter .. has a history behind all of them..

    i will give u a quick example

    write boat! in chinese..
    boat has.. 3 characteres..
    one is boat, one is 8 and one is mouth..
    on this boat with 8 mouth..

    this.. is when Noah created his boat..

    so think

    how about the simplify chinese?! nothing..

    this has to do with religion.. i m sure..

    so yea.. think dont let those ppl fool u, cuz they have more power..

  37. Dear Site Admin:
    I’m sorry to tell you that you’re wrong! Chinese character IS a language.
    It is a form of written language.
    Thank you

  38. I’m totally disgusted by the U.N’s decision to abolish Traditional Chinese. Everyone, who are not from mainland China and uses traditional Chinese, that I’ve told this news to are all very outrageous about this, that including me.

    Like a lot of you have already said, traditional Chinese has meanings to the words, but simplified Chinese is just WAY too simplified to the point that the words had lost their meanings. Not to mention, it is China’s way of controlling the public. Did I mention how much I despise Communist China? The government is tyrannic and there is NO freedom what-so-ever!

    U.N. had already kicked Taiwan out of it, and I’m already disgusted by that. Had they forgotten that China is a communist country? Taiwan is the democratic one for God’s sake! And now U.N. wants to butt into Chinese culture to abolish Traditional Chinese! That’s so ridiculous. Everytime I think of it, I’m SO angry! It’s not U.N.’s decision of whether or not to abolish other people’s language! To do so is disrespecting all the people who use Traditional Chinese, disrespecting Taiwan and Hong Kong, disrespecting the origin of our language, and disrespecting the Traditional Chinese itself!

    Here’s an online petition I got from my friend, so if anyone supports keeping the Traditional Chinese, PLEASE please please go sign the petition. Although I’m not sure how much the petition would help, but it is something that we can do to support Traditional Chinese:


  39. For all of the thoughtful comments in this thread, I am grateful and want to thank those contributors. But the thread has also been attracting perhaps more heat than light. So I’m going to shut off the commenting for this thread. Those who wish to continue the discussion — keeping in mind that, as I noted earlier, that the U.N. has been using only simplified characters for years — may do so here. Thanks.

  40. Pingback: Pinyin news » UN has been using only simplified characters for years: Taiwan foreign ministry

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