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Traditional versus simplified characters?

November 13, 2015

A nice essay by a Mandarin-speaking parent (with a great blog!) on the issues around choosing between Traditional and Simplified characters.

For most people it’s a moot point because you basically go with whatever your local Mandarin immersion school teaches and that’s the end of it, At this point, about 75% teach simplified, the rest Traditional.

But useful for the non-Chinese speakers among us to have a sense of the broader issues, because it’s sure to come up at a PTA meeting at some point. Someone will raise their hand and say, “I just wondered if we could revisit how our school came to teach (insert Traditional or Simplified here) characters and whether we’d like to appoint a committee to further discuss the matter.”

At that point, you should run screaming from the room…


Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 2.12.58 PM

For those of you who do not know, there is a raging debate within the Chinese community about whether Traditional or Simplified characters are better and why. Some of it is due to political ideology, some based on preference, and some based on practicality. If you are really curious, may I suggest to you this link.

It will be no surprise to many of you that I preferred Traditional Characters – and staunchly. However, as much as I personally prefer Traditional characters, that doesn’t necessarily follow that I think your child should learn Traditional. (Of course, it would benefit me if more folks chose Traditional because then there would be more materials easily available in the US, but that is an entirely different topic and not altogether germane to this particular discussion.)

In true fact, my opinion on what people should choose has changed greatly. I find that the further along I am on this journey of teaching my kids to be literate in Chinese, the more nuanced and pragmatic my opinion becomes.

Please read more here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mandarin Mama permalink
    November 14, 2015 10:59 am

    Thanks for the shout out!

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