Traditional Chinese character

Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. The other form is simplified Chinese characters, created by the government of the People's Republic of China (mainland China). Traditional Chinese is text written with Traditional Chinese characters. Traditional Chinese characters are used in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and some overseas Chinese communities; especially those originating from the aforementioned countries or who emigrated before the widepspread adoption of simplified characters in the People's Republic of China. In contrast, simplified characters are used in Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore and in some overseas Chinese communities; especially those from aforementioned countries who emigrated after the widespread adoption of simplified Chinese characters.


Controversy over name

Among Chinese people, traditional Chinese characters are referred to by several different names, each with different implications. The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) officially calls traditional Chinese characters standard characters or orthodox characters (Traditional Chinese: 正體字; Simplified Chinese: 正体字; pinyin: zhngtǐz), which implies that traditional characters are the full and correct forms of the characters. In contrast, users of simplified characters call them complex characters (Traditional Chinese: 繁體字; Simplified Chinese: 繁体字; pinyin: fntǐz), or, informally, old characters (老字; pinyin: lǎoz), with the implication that traditional Chinese characters have been replaced and are now obsolete.

Traditional character users argue that traditional characters cannot be called "complex" as they were never made more complex; the characters were preserved the way they were. Conversely supporters of simplified Chinese characters object strongly to the description of these characters as "standard," since they view the new simplified characters as the contemporary standard. They also point out that traditional characters are not truly traditional as Chinese characters have changed significantly over time.

Curiously, although the character which is generally translated as "complex" is itself comprised of numerous, if not complex strokes, the character has not undergone simplification; this is perhaps intentional as it demonstrates the relative complexity of the Traditional characters in contrast to the Simplified versions. Additionally, while "complex" bears somewhat of a negative connotation in English, the Chinese character per se does not imply anything to the extent that it might be construed as "complex" or "troublesome"; rather, the meaning is rather vague and remains neutral unless coupled with other characters.

Some older people refer to traditional characters as proper characters (正字; pinyin: zhngz) and simplified characters as simplified-stroke characters (Traditional Chinese: 簡筆字; Simplified Chinese: 简笔字; pinyin: jiǎnbǐz) or reduced-stroke characters (Traditional Chinese: 減筆字; Simplified Chinese: 减笔字; pinyin: jiǎnbǐz) (simplified- and reduced- are actually homonyms in Mandarin Chinese, both pronounced jiǎn).

Printed text

When printing text, people in Mainland China and Singapore mainly use the simplified system, which was developed by the People's Republic of China government in the 1950s. However, the PRC also prints material intended to be read outside of Mainland China using traditional characters. In handwritten text, most Chinese use informal individual simplifications, and there are some characters in which an informal simplified form is more common even in traditional Chinese text, notably the Tai in Taiwan.

Computer character encoding

In the past, Traditional Chinese was most often rendered using the Big5 character encoding scheme, a character encoding scheme that favors Traditional Chinese. Unicode, however, has become increasingly popular as a way to render Traditional Chinese. Unicode gives equal weight to both simplified and traditional Chinese characters and does not favor either over the other.

Usage in other languages

Traditional characters are also used in Korean Hanja, and moderately simplified traditional characters are used in Japanese Kanji.

See also

es:Chino tradicional id:Hanzi tradisional ja:繁体字 pl:Tradycyjne pismo chińskie zh:繁体中文


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