Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Simplified vs. Traditional Chinese Characters

A lot of people seem to think simplified Chinese characters are "easier" than traditional, but I have a hard time with them sometimes. Of course it is probably mostly a question of what you are used to or what you happen to like best, but for me simplified characters are more difficult to read at least. I just ran across this character: 灿. I had no idea what it could be, but I was guessing that it would read "shan" in one tone or another since that's the element on the right side (which is usually the phonetic). I was drawing a blank so I looked it up. It's the simplified character for 燦 càn, "brilliant." Sometimes the simplified characters are so simple that they are hard to recognize.


Louis said...

I agree: 龍 = 龙;
發 = 发;
讓 = 让;
認 = 认;
馬 = 马;
見 = 见。

There are other problems as well:
鄧=邓 but 燈=灯
讓=让 but 嚷=嚷
環=环 but 懷=怀
言=言 but 語=语 and 謄=誊

Thus, not only are simp. characters harder to distinguish, but they also require memorization of more radicals.

Simplification consolidated homophonous graphs. Reducing the number of characters to be learned, but by doing so created ambiguity:
係 'system',系 'relation',
繫 'tie' = 系

amida said...

Thanks for the list. It is especially the second type that make for the biggest problems for me, especially with not-so-common characters like the "can4" I wrote about in the post. And there are several characters of the third type that took me a long time to get straight.