• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 9:27am
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong actor's criticism of simplified Chinese character use stirs up passions online

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 July, 2013, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 10:52am

Award-winning Hong Kong actor Anthony Wong Chau-sang has stirred up passions in cyberspace with his lament at what he sees as the "death" of China’s ancient culture in the mainland due to its use of simplified Chinese characters.

Wong’s message has drawn both fierce criticism and passionate support from mainland and Hong Kong users of the Sina Weibo micro-blogging site.

Over half of the population in China does not read traditional Chinese characters. Sigh. The Huaxia civilisation is dead
Anthony Wong Chau-sang

“Over half of the population in China does not read traditional Chinese characters. Sigh. The Huaxia civilisation is dead,” Wong said in his message posted early this week. (Huaxia refers to Chinese civilisation in historical literature.)

Some bloggers who agreed with Wong pointed out that traditional characters were important as they were used to write most of China's ancient cultural classics.

But critics of Wong said the Hong Kong star had failed to acknowledge the merits of the mainland’s simplified characters.

“One of its big advantages is that it makes it easier to reduce illiteracy, and therefore promote cultural exchange,” said one user identified as Happy Spear.

The issue of simplified Chinese characters often touches the nerves of the people in Hong Kong, which along with Taiwan, uses the traditional characters as their standard written form of Chinese.

Last April, a Hong Kong café chain was forced to change its menus that used simplified Chinese characters only after it was accused of discriminating against Hongkongers by internet users.

Wong, often an outspoken critic of the mainland in his blog and other media, was also accused by some bloggers of simply using the issue of simplified characters to promulgate his anti-mainland sentiments.

“You habitually look down upon mainlanders to establish your own sense of superiority! You oppose everything [that is] mainland Chinese. You prefer to be a British dog rather than a Chinese man,” one user said in a reply to Wong.

“[You have] no dignity and no brain!” a user identified as Moonshadow Sunlight wrote.

Wong, 50, has won the Hong Kong Film Awards Best Actor Award twice, in 1994 for his serial killer role in The Untold Story and in 1999 for his appearance in Beast Cops.



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This article is now closed to comments

There is no doubt simplify Chinese character is a degraded, poorly developed, unfinished process trying to use some simple stroke to replace or destroy those heritages of chinese traditional characters. From scientific point of view, it did not really 'simplify' much. It will not improve rate if literacy as people still need to learn simplify Chinese in order to read, why did they learn traditional one with a little bit more effort. Simplified Chinese words are strange products.
@mbop: Wow - you're one angry individual. I wonder who is actually demented here...
Traditional Chinese are an art form, it is regrettable indeed.
You know huaxia is in trouble when the character for East is easier to write in traditional chinese.
Easier to reduce illiteracy? Why don`t you simplify the Chinese characters once more and do it again and again.
Seems like the who's lacking critical thinking and basic online research is YOU! Yes, simplified characters were proposed & discussed by the KMT, but the simplified chinese as you know it was not formerly introduced until the 1950's & 60's. And even then, it was the Communist version of chinese, during the time period in which they sought to destroy chinese traditional values with Communism. Simply discussing an idea is NOT the same thing as actually putting it into practice! Simplified characters individually have been in use since the Qin dynasty. But today's version of "official" simplified characters is a demented Communist version of Chinese.
Simplified chars were created by 1 political party, literally on a quick and dirty political campaign drive. It is not thought-out and not systematic like traditional characters. I will go buy an Anthony Wong movie now.
Honestly, does it mean Huaxia wants to write in jiaguwen, because the so-called traditional chinese is not as traditional compared to jiaguwen. People should move forward, not stagnant, nor backward.
I agree with Giwaffe that the Chinese language can be cumbersome. However, I disagree when it comes to numbers, though I'm not sure whether Giwaffe is of the same opinion when it comes to the spoken aspect of the language as well.
Take a random number of 139,294. In English, this is "one hundred (and) thirty-nine thousand two hundred (and) ninty-four". That's 14 syllables (not including the "ands", which is debatable whether they should be included or not). In CANTONESE, this is "saap sam maan gau cheen yi bak gau sap sei". 10 syllables.
Another example: 5,378,984. Five million three hundred seventy eight thousand nine hundred eighty four (18 syllables - can someone advise whether "million" is 2 or 3 syllables??!), versus ng bak saam sap chat maan baat cheen gau bak baat sap sei (13 syllables).
Not trying to argue that either language is better than the other, but each language has its own advantages. Merely trying to point out that this is one of the instances where Chinese may just have an advantage over English.
It seems to me that character, as a media of communication, is nothing but a tool. However I admit that traditional character is of more "beauty" if I may identify it like that...
For example, we find poems beautiful, but it doesn't mean we shall use this manner of expressing in our daily life.
People in different area have different lifestyle, we just show our respect.
Not everything needs to be marked as RIGHT or WRONG.
On the other hand, people's using any kind of character does not necessarily mean they are graceful or something... it is the inner most beauty that matters.



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