Mittwoch, 4. Januar 2012


Stop Using Simplified Chinese Characters in Public Notices and Signboards.



Stop Using Simplified Chinese Characters in Public Notices and Signboards. Help Conserve the Endangered Orthodox Chinese Language in Hong Kong

The simplified Chinese writing system was created in the 1950s and imposed upon the Chinese public by the communist government of China through legislation, media control and publication laws. The set of simplified characters were derived from popular shorthands and synonyms or designed by government linguists. The changes made are analogous to merging such syllables as "key-", "quay-", "kea-", "cay-" and "kee-" into “ki-”, spreading it through the press and the education system, and then banning the original spellings from all public spaces.

The simplified Chinese writing system was created largely without regard to the expressiveness and structural aesthetics of Chinese characters in use since the Han dynasty ( 206 BC -220AD ). The cultured consider it a crude set of shorthands. Most linguists outside Mainland China consider it a political tool for cutting the link of Chinese people from their historical roots, rendering historical accounts and ancient literature confusing if not incomprehensible, just as Shakespeare would appear if it were littered with “thru”, “ki” and the like.

Hong Kong and Taiwan are two major Chinese societies that use the orthodox Chinese writing system and free from direct communist rule ( so far! ). Hong Kongers ( and their neighbours from Macau ) speak Cantonese whose metre is close to their ancestors' in the Tang dynasty a millenium ago. But same as the mainlanders, the Taiwanese people speak Mandarin ( "Putonghua" ), which is a form of spoken Chinese mixed with Mongolian and Manchu languages in the recent dynasties. If you don't know what that means, imagine Britain being taken over by invaders and the English word “thrust” considered too difficult and thus "reduced" to “fuss”.

That is to say, Hong Kong is the only place in the world that preserves both orthodox spoken Chinese and written Chinese. Yet some shops and organizations have started to use simplified Chinese in public signboards and instructions in reaction to the influx of tourists from China. We ask these shops and organisations to switch back to orthodox Chinese as a respect to the endangered languages of Hong Kong. In fact, Mainland Chinese tourists do read traditional Chinese, sometimes with the help of contextual cues and intelligent guessing, as it has always been.

( 此稿由陳雲草擬,面書版友協助修訂 )

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