First of all, the post title is a big fat lie.
I've heard it said that Chinese is one of the three most difficult languages to learn, and goddammit if it isn't true. I mean, in a language that has this word, what do you expect?
鬱Must be why we ace all our tests. ;P I'll be honest, I still can't write that properly without a dictionary. But here's what's really unfair: most of China actually writes it like this:
郁Wow, that is actually legible! The difference is that the first word is written in Traditional Chinese, more similar to ancient Chinese and retained in only a few places like Hong Kong. (Grrrr.) The second one is in Simplified Chinese, and was developed after China underwent a bunch of wars and half the population was illiterate.
Apparently, the government was smart enough to realise that traditional Chinese is rather difficult to learn, so a new system was invented. However, just as there are those who disdain American English:
For the avoidance of doubt, there is no such thing as 'American English'. There is the English language and there are mistakes.Similarly, some people think that simplified Chinese doesn't stay true to the more "accurate" version of traditional Chinese. Which is an opinion I find amusing, firstly because no one would finish their essays in public exams if they didn't use simplified Chinese.
— Elizabeth Windsor (@Queen_UK) May 29, 2012
Secondly, here's an example of actual "ancient Chinese".
And I mean, do you really propose to force 1.3 billion people to relearn this monster of a language?
But if we were to apply western ideals of democracy here (why would you, though?), then the overwhelming population of mainland China would mean that Hong Kong and Taiwan should just revamp our language system.
Here's the funny thing: it's more difficult for a person who knows simplified Chinese to learn traditional Chinese than the other way round. So in terms of efficiency, this isn't even that hard ... and like I said, most students have learned it themselves yet.
That said, I would be absolutely horrified if traditional Chinese faded out of use completely.
Yes, there are some practical benefits to simplified Chinese. Yes, you could call it the natural evolution of our language. But there is something infinitely glorious in the complexity of the strokes, and calligraphy is 100 times more beautiful in traditional Chinese.
Take, for example, the traditional Chinese word for speech/language: 語. It contains the character 言, also meaning speech, which contains the character 口, meaning mouth. But the simplified Chinese word becomes 语, which simplifies the 言 and seems to embody somewhat less of the original derivation.
This sort of simplification is all the more regrettable because the Chinese language is supposed to look like what we're talking about, in some ways, and the way these characters are combined and reformed to make new associated words are somehow lost in simplified Chinese.
To sum up, I think Gandalf said it best:
|Never forget to look behind.|
Is taking a "shortcut" in languages acceptable? Why or why not?
By the way, grasshoppers (betcha forgot the community name), is the Related posts/Linkwithin widget working? Let me know in the comments whether you can see it!
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