Why simplified Chinese should make a lot of sense for Hongkongers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 May, 2016, 12:17am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 May, 2016, 12:16am

I agree with those correspondents who have talked about the benefits of learning simplified Chinese characters.

There are many benefits from learning simplified Chinese.

With simplified Chinese, it takes fewer strokes to write each character and that makes it much easier to manage than with traditional Chinese.

The introduction of such a form of Chinese is how the literacy rate of the overall population of China has blossomed in a relatively short period of time.

The size of the country’s illiterate population has dropped drastically, because simplified Chinese helps people to learn how to read and master the language much more quickly than if they had to learn the traditional version.

Even the poor and farmers in villages can master the language quite quickly.

On the contrary, in Taiwan, the official language is traditional Chinese.

I have a friend who visited Taiwan recently and remarked that people who belong to the lower class and farmers in the countryside still have a much lower literacy rate compared to their counterparts on mainland China.

When he asked some of them if that is because the government still only uses the traditional form of the language, making it more difficult to learn, they nodded their heads in agreement.

I learnt simplified characters at City University of Hong Kong in the mid-1990s.

There were two semesters, about six months, which were devoted to the learning of it as a subject. At the end of the course, we had to be assessed on how to write the characters. In fact, most of my classmates did rather well in learning the subject, as I recalled the teacher remarking that it was one of the subjects with the lowest fail rates.

In fact, in Singapore where I am now live , Chinese textbooks are all written in simplified Chinese, as are the local Chinese newspapers. My husband is from Shanghai, and is surprised when he sees me reading the newspapers that I can actually understand Chinese in such a form.

It is important that Hongkongers master this version of Chinese. If they don’t, they will not be able to read mainland publications and make the most of visits when they go there for holiday, work or study.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Singapore