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The Difference between Traditional and Simplified Chinese

Historical Roots
Chinese, which is composed entirely of characters, is one of the world's oldest written languages. Generally speaking, each character represents a meaningful syllable. The Chinese characters in use today developed from pictographs carved on oracle bones dating from over 3,000 years ago and others found on ancient bronze vessels dating from a little later. In the course of history, Chinese characters evolved from pictographs into characters formed of strokes, with very much simpler structures.

Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong nowadays. This is a traditional version that had been written by Chinese people for thousands of years. Due to the political separation, people in Taiwan and HK continued to use the “old” traditional text.

Simplified Chinese
Simplified Chinese is currently used in China and among people of Chinese origin in Singapore nowadays. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s in an attempt to increase literacy.

The Difference
The Chinese language, with the same pronunciation in Mandarin, has largely two written forms, simplified and traditional, which are used by people in China and Taiwan respectively. Many overseas Chinese people also use traditional characters.

Basically Simplified Chinese characters have fewer strokes and are easier to write than Traditional Chinese, that is why it’s called “Simplified” and is the only difference when the Simplified Chinese writing system was first developed. However, the rapidly changing world have brought out more and more new words (such as the “Internet”, “Computer”) into our life, and naturally, these new words may have different local versions in China, HK and Taiwan respectively. The political isolation between China and HK, Taiwan for several decades also created some variation in the style and wording of language, which are naturally reflected in their written forms (to understand the second situation, you may associate it with the difference between the written styles of US English and British English).


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