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UPDATED: 08:16, July 22, 2005
To be simplified or not, puzzling question for teaching Chinese character overseas
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To use simplified Chinese character or not, that is a puzzling question in Chinese language teaching in the universities of the United States, Chih-ping Chou, director of the Chinese Language Program and Princeton-in-Beijing, said in Beijing on July 21.

At the on-going World Chinese Conference, Chou said more than 800 universities in USA provide teaching programs on Chinese language, many of which advise their students to write in the original complex form of the Chinese characters, rather than the simplified ones.

"We live in modern times, so we should teach the students to write the simplified Chinese characters used by the contemporary Chinese people. The traditional ones used by the ancient people are too complex," Chou said.

According to Chou, in the USA, most of people learning Chinese language prefer writing the simplified Chinese characters, however, many universities persist in teaching students to write the traditional ones. In China's history, the ancient Chinese characters carved on tortoise shells or animal bones were simplified to the regular scripts. This trend is welcomed by Chinese people, so it is unreasonable to use so-called 'more traditional' but complex characters.

"To learn the original complex form by heart is very difficult for students, so I hope Chinese administration exerts more efforts to promote the simplified form," Chou said.

But Chou does not oppose to students' recognition of the Chinese characters in traditional complex form, for it is very important for those who are interested in and make researches on the ancient Chinese culture to recognize them so as to read the ancient books and documents.

"We encourage using the simplified Chinese but do not oppose using the traditional. The two types of characters will exist for a long time as Hong Kong and Macao still use the traditional after they returned to China," said Liu Zepeng, deputy director of the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs under the State Council.

In the 1950s China rewrote its national lexicon, creating a system of simplified Chinese characters to replace the traditional Chinese characters which are too complicated, while Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao still use the traditional characters.

The two-day conference, with the theme of "the Development of Chinese in a Multi-cultural World", attracted nearly 600 government officials, Sinologists and Chinese learners from 67 countries and regions, among which more than 350 came from overseas.

Source: Xinhua

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