Simplified Chinese Characters

Simplified Chinese Characters (Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: Jiǎnhuàzì or Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字;pinyin: Jiǎntǐzì) are one of two standard sets of Chinese characters of the contemporary Chinese written language. They are based mostly on popular cursive (caoshu) forms embodying graphic or phonetic simplifications of the “traditional” forms that were used in printed text for over a thousand years. In 1956 and in 1964, the government of the People’s Republic of China issued official documents listing simplified characters, and began promoting them for use in printing in an attempt to increase literacy. Simplified character forms were created by decreasing the number of strokes and simplifying the forms of a sizable proportion of traditional Chinese characters. Some characters were simplified by applying regular rules; for example, by replacing all occurrences of a certain component with a simpler variant. Some characters were simplified irregularly, however, and some simplified characters are very dissimilar to traditional characters. Many characters were left untouched by simplification, and are identical in both the traditional and simplified Chinese orthographies.

Simplified Chinese characters are officially used in People’s Republic of China on Mainland, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Nations. Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Republic of China on Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.Overseas Chinese communities typically use the traditional characters, but simplified characters are gradually gaining popularity among mainland Chinese emigrants. At the same time, the prestige of traditional characters is increasing in the People’s Republic of China. A heated debate, tinged with political implications, exists between those who support the use of simplified characters and those who believe that they undermine traditional Chinese culture and have only created more confusion and greater opportunity for miscommunication among Chinese speakers.

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