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Do traditional Chinese characters highlight deeper connotations to culture?

中国恢复繁体字就能彰显字体的意义?.jpg

In a group discussion on the CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) this year, Feng Xiaogang, the famous film director, proposed to use some traditional Chinese characters that contain deeper cultural connotations in textbooks. He suggested that 50 or more traditional Chinese characters be selected and added into the primary school textbooks to make pupils experience and better understand the traditional culture.

在中国政治协商会议小组讨论中,著名导演冯小刚呼吁恢复部分有文化含义的繁体字,建议只选择50个或更多繁体字,增加到小学课本里,让小学生感受传统文化。

 

It is easier said than done. It would be a huge project to urge people to use the traditional Chinese characters again, as people in the Chinese Mainland have gotten used to the simplified characters by now. Feng Xiaogang proposed using some traditional Chinese characters, rather than wholly replacing simplified characters with traditional ones. He suggested a “minor revision”, which seems to be more feasible.  There are pros and cons to start using traditional Chinese characters again. Will the meanings of traditional Chinese characters be apparent, once they are added to the textbooks?

然而,简化字用久了,习惯了,要全面用回繁体字,却是一项浩大工程,谈何容易。冯小刚提议“恢复有含意的繁体字”,不是彻底的“废简复繁”,只是做出“小修正”,看起来更易于接近实际。不过,恢复有恢复的好处,不恢复有不恢复的道理,即使恢复了,繁体字的意义是不是就能彰显了呢?

 

Feng cited the example of these two simplified characters, “亲爱”, whose traditional counterparts are quite meaningful. The traditional counterpart of “亲” is “親” (meaning “close relationship” in English), comprising “亲” on the left and “见” (meaning “see” or “meet” in English) on the right; the traditional counterpart of “爱” is “愛” (meaning “love” in English), a “心” (meaning “heart, spirit” in English) being added. As indicated by these two traditional characters, you should see or meet your family or friends frequently to have a close relationship with them, and a love is  received with the heart. However, after the hanzi are simplified, “见” and “心” are gone, and one might poetically say they somewhat indicate not meeting your dearest, and loving without real heart.

冯小刚也举例“亲爱的”这几个字非常有含义,“亲”的繁体是左边一个“亲”,右边一个“见”,组成了“亲”;“爱”是在“爱”中加了一个”心“,这两字的含义是亲要相见,爱要有心,结果简化以后变成了“亲不见、爱无心”。

 

The traditional Chinese characters are not just symbols. It’s undeniable that they carry massive and profound meanings, vividly and literally expressed. In the argument about using the traditional characters or simplified characters, political factors should not be involved in judging their advantages and disadvantages. Those who feel like using the traditional characters should be allowed to use them freely; they can type the simplified characters at work, but write the traditional characters in their personal diaries, blogs and Facebook. Close relationship or love should not be culturally or logically related to characters directly. Simplified characters have their own advantages and disadvantages, but they should not affect their original meanings. Unfortunately, one might say when some traditional characters are simplified, their meanings are simplified as well.

传统汉字(中文,华文)的字体不只是个符号而已,繁体字承载大量的意义,字字意义深远,形象而生动,让人望文生义,这是不容否认的。繁简之争,应摆脱以政治因素来断其优劣,想使用繁体字的人,还是有使用的权利和自由,可以工作上用简体打字;写日记、写博客或在面簿上留言用繁体字。争论人与人之间 有没有爱,亲不亲,跟文字里面有没有心和见,没有文化逻辑思维上的直接关系,只有字体被简化得好和坏之分。汉字简化后不应影响汉字本意,但有些简体字的确将有含义的内容也一同简化掉了。

2016-06-21

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