Asked 160 months ago by vene
Simplified Chinese is very common now, but how about the traditional Chinese? If a phrase is written using simplified Chinese, is it possible to change it to traditional Chinese by replacing every character by its equivalent? Or does we need to take into consideration grammatical aspects?
What about the relationship, is there only one traditional Chinese Character for each simplified one? or is there ambiguity means one simplified character is used for several traditional characters? And the other way round?
Think this is a quite complex issue - but I am intrigued as I am now learning (only) simplified characters (and that's difficult enough - at least for me!)
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Both simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese are contemporary Chinese written language. The government of mainland China simplified around two thousand traditional characters and put them into use since 1956. Now simplified Chinese are mainly used in mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and southeast Asia while traditional Chinese in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and many China Towns abroad.
Every simplified Chinese are "created" by decreasing or replacing parts of traditional Chinese so each of them has at lease one equivalent traditional character. Sometimes two (or even three) traditional character are combined into one simplified one, but only accounts for a tiny part in the list.
Don't worrying about grammatical aspects. Both of them are sharing the same pronunciation, meaning and grammar functions.
If you want to convert simplified Chinese into traditional Chinese, you may use the Complete List of Simplified Characters (简化字总表) published in 1986 by the government. You can also use a converting software (e.g. Microsoft Word) which would be much faster.
Answered 160 months ago by flyingdsh
Thanks for the background information on the traditional characters. I haven't bothered to check the correctness of the historical information since I assume you know what you are talking about. There are, however, some inconsistencies with what you write about their actual usage. Generally, you are right about the fact that many different traditional characters have been merged into one simplified from,e.g. 發 (fā - send out, emit, utter) and 髮 (f࠭ hair) have been both simplified to one form 发. Sometimes one traditional character was left unchanged but has become at the same time a proxy for another character, e.g. 雲 (y cloud) and 云 (yspeak, say) have both the simplified from 云. It is not uncommon for a simplified character to stand for 2-3 different traditional forms with different meanings, e.g. 胡 (hecklessly), 鬍 (houstache, beard) 衚 (h phonetic character in 衚衕 (胡同)) all simplified to 胡.
The ambiguity is not, however as implied here, unidirectional, although the phenomenon is extreemely rare. The best known example is the character 著 (zhᯬ zhuhāo, zhe, zhich in most cases is the full form of the simplified character 着 ((zhᯬ zhuhāo, zhe), sometimes however, can stand for a character used in the simplified set (pronounced zhhich has no traditional form. Since 著 can be used as a gramatical particle (zhe) knowing the grammar is surely helpful.
If you wish to learn traditional characters the only way is to check the word in a proper dictionary with full forms. Convertion software use algorythms that can only bring you so far and cannot resolve all the questions, resulting in faulty output.
To be honest, the failure of Trainchinese to incorporate traditional characters puts a great limit on the software's functionality, since many a student of Chinese is required to master both forms, especially if they are required to read classical texts. Unfortunately, developers of Trainchinese have argued on this forum that this feature would be hardly useful at all, and refuse to make changes to the programs, assuming these would not pay off. I cannot speak for others, but for me the only reason I have not purchased a full subscription to trainchinese is the lack of traditional characters, which is essential for my studies. I hope the producers will change their policy soon, since I love the dictionary itself and would love to be able to use all the benefits of the flashcard function.
Answered 152 months ago by chinskycraze
A very good elaboration and good argumentation to convince us at trainchinese!
It is obviously technically possible and there certainly is also quite some interest (as can be seen from the questions here) to include the traditional characters. Unfortunately that task is not easy as we would not only need to include the correct characters into our dictionary (and even may need to modify some translations) but also will require changes all over the site and with all of our applications we have decided to postpone it, while already preparing for it in the background, while we still are making suer that our offers based on simplified Characters are complete (Android App, Character recognition ...). Once we see that done then we will focus on that task!
I can imagine the process would be fairly labour-intensive and time-consuming, especially if the project should involve converting the entire content. But maybe you could introduce the option by degrees, rather than a fully fledged feature in one go. It would be enough for me at least (but probably for many other users, at least for a start) to have the traditional forms in the main entry of a base word only - a solution a number of other software developers employ, e.g. 喜欢 [-歡], with the example sentences left in simplified charracters for the time being. Actually, you might want to take more than just a single leaf out of other developers' book, and rather than working from scratch, simply develop further the free content available on the net. The CC-CEDICT dictionary database, for example, can be used for non-commercial as well as commercial purposes free of charge, and it seems even the condition of attribution can be negotiated with the original author. You might want to take a look into that option as well, as it would speed up the whole process considerably.