Is Mandarin Chinese traditional or simplified?
Those from Southern China use Cantonese but write Simplified. Those from Taiwan speak Mandarin but write in Traditional Chinese. The only thing you can be sure of is that people from mainland China use Simplified Chinese characters.
Chinese characters are logograms primarily used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese. In Standard Chinese, they are called Hanzi (simplified Chinese: ??; traditional Chinese: ??, lit "Han characters").
- Altogether there are over 50,000 characters, though a comprehensive modern dictionary will rarely list over 20,000 in use. An educated Chinese person will know about 8,000 characters, but you will only need about 2-3,000 to be able to read a newspaper.
- Jiaguwen (???), or Oracle Bone Script. This is the earliest form of Chinese writing, used from the Middle to Late Shang dynasty (approximately 1500 BCE to 1000 BCE). This script was etched onto turtle shells and animals bones, which were then used for divination in the royal Shang court, hence the name "oracle bones".
- Japanese consists of two scripts (referred to as kana) called Hiragana and Katakana, which are two versions of the same set of sounds in the language. Hiragana and Katakana consist of a little less than 50 “letters”, which are actually simplified Chinese characters adopted to form a phonetic script.
The Difference between Traditional and Simplified Chinese. Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world. For example, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau use Traditional Chinese, whereas Simplified Chinese is used in China, Malaysia, and Singapore.
- In addition, Traditional Chinese provides more guidance for pronunciation. Simplified Chinese is used in mainland China (PRC) and in Singapore. If you are targeting Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Malaysia you would use the Traditional Chinese method of writing.
- Traditional Chinese characters are currently used in Hong Kong, Macau, and the Republic of China (Taiwan). While traditional characters can still be read and understood by many mainland Chinese and the Chinese community in Malaysia and Singapore, these groups generally retain their use of Simplified characters.
- Kanji is derived from traditional Chinese characters, but has its own set of simplifications. They are not as extreme as simplified Chinese characters, and in fact looks very similar to traditional Chinese characters for the most part.
And regarding the so-called “difficulty” of memorizing over 3000 characters, just remember that like the Latin alphabet (which also contains several thousand “words”), Chinese characters have their own logic which simplifies memorizing to the rules and meanings of strokes made.
- Traditionally Chinese text was written in vertical columns which were read from top to bottom, right-to-left; the first column being on the right side of the page, and the last column on the left. The use of punctuation has also become more common, whether the text is written in columns or rows.
- The language with the most letters is Khmer (Cambodian), with 74 (including some without any current use). According to Guinness Book of World Records, 1995, the Khmer alphabet is the largest alphabet in the world. It consists of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.
- Hanzi and kanji are the Chinese and Japanese pronunciations of the term ?? that is used in both languages. It refers to the Chinese characters that both languages make use of in their writing systems. Chinese is written entirely in hanzi, and Japanese makes heavy use of Chinese characters.
Updated: 17th October 2019