Traditional and simplified


I’m sure some of you can give me good links to help me to understand / remember the relations between traditionnal and simplified chinese.
I’m currently learning with the simplified one so any material that can help me to built a bridge between what’s in my book and what’s out there is welcome!

Thanks in advance.

Where are you studying? What’s “out there” completely depends on your environment. I read that in Mainland China, traditional characters are making a comeback, so that over a half of university signs and about 80 pecent of restaurant signs use traditional characters. These numbers are even higher in southern cities like Xiamen.

Can’t say that there’s a systematic way to study the relationship of traditional and simplified characters. Mainland Chinese can read traditional because they see it more and more in everyday life, and because the historic (pre-1950’s) texts are written that way. It’s more surprising that most of my Taiwanese friends can read simplified (although they will claim then cannot write it). I guess this is also a process of natural assimilation, from movies, books etc.

So I think you have to sort of pick it up yourself. Good dictionaries to use are the Oxford Consise 2nd Edition, and the Harbaugh Zhongwen Zipu ( , they both contain trad. and simp. side by side.

As for the relationships between simp. and trad., they fall into several categories:

  • Replacement of a complicated phonetic w/ a simpler one, ex: deng1 燈 becomes 灯, or guo2 國 becomes 囯
  • Eliminating part of the word, ex: mian4 麵 becomes 面
  • Adopting a shorthand convention already used in handwriting, ex: 個 becomes 个, 見 becomes 见.

One of the failures of simplification is that it focused entirely on reducing stroke count, and therefore created some very similar-looking character pairs, such as she4 设 (design) and mei2 没 (as in meiyou), or feng1 风 (wind) and feng4 凤 (phoenix). So there is less differentiation of simp. characters and this can make them harder to read.

I’d say get yourself a list of jianti and their corresponding fanti (where the hell did I put mine…?) and start comparison…it’s not as hard as you think…the radicals and components of a character are usually simplified the same way, so once you know how it works you can easily recognize the characters. some examples here:

A good radical index showing both simpliified and long form would provide a good start. The little old Oxford does that . . . if your eyes are good enough.