Should Chinese Characters be Abolished?

Dude. It doesn’t make any difference if you write it as Hǎo. Wǒ yào shàngbān

The problem is still there.

The homophones itself also make for the large number of puns as well. Those would be lost.



These are identical if you strip the characters.

Every year has what? Yu? Which Yu? The Yu that swim in the ocean? Oh! The Yu that means we have many things!

Confusing! Keep characters!


I read that as “homophobic”…

Why would reading pinyin be hard due to the homophones when it’s the same as speaking/listening?

I just wish Chinese would use friggin spaces between words

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I think this is the silliest conversation I’ve had in a while here. I actually like Chinese characters. But as to the question of whether bopomofo could be used in its stead, I still say YES! Use parenthetical notes or directly use the Chinese characters when needed, which will be very seldom.

BTW/edit: 年年有餘 versus 年年有魚. Isn’t that more of a play on words? Eat fish for dinner here at our restaurant they write because 年年有魚 (but actually meaning 年年有餘). This is an actual question.

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Well. Because you don’t have the luxury when reading a text of being in an environment where you get to experience the context through your senses.

So you’re saying, we should remove Chinese Characters, despite 100% of people in the last 50 years attaining literacy in Taiwan, and then add footnotes, either through explanations or characters in a mixed script, which is IMO, ugly to say the least, to reduce confusion that wasn’t there, unnecessary, and unneeded before the removal of Chinese Characters.

What language requires footnotes to explain things in its own language?

Well yeah, but you lose that without the characters. Because in Zhuyin and Pinyin, they’re identical That’s why they’re a play on words.

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No. I like Chinese characters. I’m just providing an answer to whether this can be done.

Like this:ㄋㄧㄢˊㄋㄧㄢˊㄧㄡˇㄩˊ (魚 ) next to a picture of fish on a banner (sticking to the restaurant example I spoke of earlier) to clarify that you mean this character as a play on words.

This point I will concede. Again, I like Chinese characters. And these characters are so simple, I think even in Korea the four characters would be written all in Chinese characters.

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yeah. Which means that abolishing Chinese Characters is absolutely and utterly pointless.

Cause you still have to teach them the characters to get that meaning

…that you now had to inject into the new writing system because the new writing system fails at its most basic task, to facilitate communication.

This is why it’s a dumb idea to abolish Chinese Characters for Mandarin Chinese and every time it’s brought up here, to me at least, (not a reflection on you, but in general), sounds like foreigners upset they have to memorise characters cause it doesn’t fit in with the ways and methods they are used to when learning. So instead of hunkering down and trying hard to learn a language used by millions of people that are no biologically different to them, they suggest instead abolishing the defining characteristic of that language.

Taiwanese often complain English is hard, but I’ve never heard anyone from Taiwan or China suggest turning the language upside down to accommodate them. And I think English speakers would lose their minds at the mere thought.

And most of them probably earn less than a third of what these “losers” are earning.

I love Chinese characters as well. Chinese calligraphy is a beautiful art. I’m just toying with the idea that there could possibly be an easier way for people to read and write Chinese (I guess specifically Mandarin).


Why do Taiwanese kids learn bopomofo first? Because it’s easier. It’s not a hard concept to grasp.

Most Chinese-speaking people don’t know how to write most characters, how is that an effective system?

I could go on and on. You can argue the added ambiguity is not worth the hassle and we could have our differing opinions on the matter but it’s a stupid deflection to label others as self-absorbed.

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Western kids don’t get taught all the grammar rules in English in Grade 1 either. What’s your point?

Kids get started with the basics before moving up. It’s a tradition as old as time. But Zhuyin/Pinyin is not appropriate for everyday usage in the adult world.

I could say quite a few English speakers don’t know how to spell most words either. A quick look through Kijiji shows me that an educated minority of people are the ones writing those press releases for companies. All languages have obsolete words. You don’t need to know 100% of Chinese because if the characters and words aren’t used, there’s no point. It doesn’t count for literacy.

Even in my adult years, I still learn new English words and occasionally I google or reference grammar and/or things like citation style in my quest to perform at my job.

I don’t feel I am deflecting. It’s my opinion that a bunch of foreigners suggesting that a language should be overhauled because they have difficulty with it, despite the fact that the locals have no problems with it is entitled. I don’t think it’s self-absorbtion at all. I think it sounds entitled. English is hard. But nobody is asking to turn English upside down.

‘We should make Chinese only Pinyin/Zhuyin because foreigners don’t like learning Chinese Characters.’


Don’t get me started on names either. That would be a catastrophic mess without characters.

For English-speakers to sit here and express how other languages should conform to their world view, suggests entitlement to me and ignores how the language and its writing system fits togerher and ignores the culture behind it. We lose our culture the more we strip away.


It’s definitely possible to argue for the superiority of phonetic writing systems over the approach used in Chinese, on a linguistic basis.

No, it’s just a phonetic system that would enable anyone to write anything they can phonetically process with 100% accuracy, much like most writing systems in the world but arguably even better (think about the phonetic accuracy of written English!) You can argue for linguistic, cultural, and other reasons for keeping characters, but phonetic systems are entirely proven.


For their languages. English has a million syllables. Words sound distinctive enough that a phonetic system works. That’s not the case for Mandarin.

I never once argued that phonetic systems didn’t work. They don’t work for Mandarin

They’re not appropriate for Mandarin

I understand that you’re saying that, but it doesn’t make sense if you think about it, otherwise people would not be able to understand spoken Mandarin.


Speaking/listening, IMO is a different beast to reading/writing.

Certainly not entirely different. Most other languages seem to get by with phonetic systems, don’t they? Is Mandarin so different? Are you arguing that Mandarin has developed and maintained a writing system based on characters for that reason?



No other major language has so few syllables than Mandarin. Mandarin’s use of relatively few syllables is IMO, the most restrictive amongst all major languages. Abolishing characters means we don’t know if Taibei means North Taiwan City or Mackerel North City鮐北

Japanese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Korean, English all have phonetic systems that have far far far more syllables than Mandarin, ensuring clear distinction between words.

You can learn Pinyin/Zhuyin in two weeks and you can say the entire language of Mandarin.

English has almost no syllablic rules. You can pretty much mash any amount of letters together and you can pronounce it. You can’t do that with Mandarin. The fact that one new syllable was unofficially added to Chinese, Duang, is a big deal. You can’t type Duang into your IME.

But right now, it’s still an illegal syllable.

M? M can’t be a final. No matter what.

Mandarin adopted Chinese Characters because its words don’t sound distinctive enough. Chinese characters are the best fit for Mandarin.

Even the Chinese Communist Party pulled back and thought it was a stupid idea.

You’d need to support that. As far as I know it’s simply an ancient system that has been carried down. I’m not saying it’s not a valid system, or necessarily not the best system for Chinese.

Context matters. People can’t understand meaning from randomly spoken sounds either. If I say only one word “tai-bei” you’ll guess what I mean with very high accuracy because it’s a dominant context. The same would be true in phonetic writing. That written Chinese can make such distinctions is an interesting and useful feature, but it isn’t essential for understanding.

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If I ask what does Dài mean? You won’t know what I am talking about.

but I can write ‘帶’ 什麼意思? And you know what I mean.

English? English I can just say What’s a belt? Belt中文怎麼樣?

I say belt. You get a rough image in your mind of various belts.

The words in English are distinctive alone.

As I edited in above:

If I say only one word “tai-bei” you’ll guess what I mean with very high accuracy because it’s a dominant context. The same would be true in phonetic writing. That written Chinese can make such distinctions is an interesting and useful feature, but it isn’t essential for understanding.

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