Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, March 13, 2009

more ideography

In response to yesterday’s post on traditional and simplified Chinese characters, I got a really interesting email from my student Yee Sum Lo that I’d like (with her permission) to share:

Chinese Input software is the same for both cell phones and computers: you can input a traditional character easily on a cell phone and because one/two characters can represent an English word and four characters can already replace a sentence, it is easier to text in Chinese than in English! Most people would agree with the article, there is no reason to switch to simplified in this case because the input of simplified and traditional is nearly identical in any digital medium.

However, as far as "encouraging people to learn" goes, my friends in the Chinese Class at Wheaton simply can't read traditional. Some theorize that because Westerners are used to simple alphabets, their eyes (and brains) aren't adjusted to take in and process so much at one time. I just know that the simplified set already seems more complicated than necessary to them. For me, visual problems aside, traditional characters are easier to learn because each part of the character gives you small bits of information that will guide you to define that term as well as tell you how to pronounce it — all encapsulated in that small character. There is a wealth of information in each stroke, which is why eliminating them has caused such an uproar.


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