Sunday, September 6, 2009

44 Chinese characters you may need to relearn

Great... just when you think you've checked off all your Chinese character boxes, China starts debating whether to change the boxes by modifying certain characters.

Read more... For the first time in some two decades (in which time, I'm sure, many of us have commenced our studies of Chinese), China is considering revising some characters. The revisions only affect 44 characters, and below you'll find them in their revised format (click to enlarge):



Some of these characters I doubt whether I've even seen before, while a bunch are quite familiar. At first glance, I didn't even notice the changes, but, on a second look, it seems that one of the biggest changes is that of 朩 děng becoming 木 . So clearly we're not dealing with a revolution here, but still something that we learners should take note of.

And all this just when Taiwan starts talking about making the jump to simplified.

I don't know about them, but I'm still holding out for the implementation of one of the few ideas from Mao Zedong that just might make sense:
Reform of Chinese characters must be carried out in the direction of total Romanization that I believe is the mainstream of language development in the world.
Then again, he also thought that backyard steel furnaces would be a good idea, and that didn't turn out so well, so maybe we should just stick with the characters and consider this idea to be in the official 30% of things that Mao got wrong.

Links:
通用规范汉字表 Tōngyòng Guīfàn Hànzì Biǎo (General-Use Standard Chinese Character Table) (in Chinese) [中国语言文字网 Zhōngguó Yǔyán Wénzì Wǎng (China Language and Writing)]
Revision of 44 Chinese Characters in Hot Debates [CRI English]

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