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Simplified Chinese characters

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Simplified Chinese characters is one of the two commonly used forms of writing Chinese languages. As its name shows, it is simplified from the original written form, which is called the Traditional Chinese characters.


Simplified Chinese characters were first put to public use in 1964 by the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong. Along with many other educational changes, the change would help the mostly illiterate Chinese to read and write. The hope was to have a Chinese language like the Japanese language. This would include a phonetic alphabet. In 1978 the language was further simplified. Again in 1984 changes were made. Many people did not like these changes because too many characters with different meanings were merged.

Current use

Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, while people living in Mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia use Simplified Chinese characters for their writings.

It is not proven that Simplified Chinese characters help people with reading and writing. Other places using Traditional Chinese characters did not have literacy problems. In 2009 Pan Qing-Lin, a Chinese official, suggested to end using Simplified Chinese characters. The idea was rejected.

In multi-racial societies, like Singapore, students learn two languages for many years. Simplified Chinese characters are welcomed by students. People who learned the simplified set had little problems switching over to Traditional Chinese characters set. The need to use Traditional Chinese characters can happen for many reasons, such as working in Hong Kong or reading books.