Traditional Chinese Characters to Be Main Unified Font

November 12, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: November 12, 2007 12:00 am

At the 8th International Seminar on Chinese Characters in Beijing on October 30 and 31, 2007, scholars from mainland China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan reached a consensus to standardize the font of commonly used words, mainly the traditional characters.

This has put an end to the long-standing debate over simplified versus traditional Chinese characters. The seminar attracted particular attention. This was the first time the Chinese regime has officially endorsed the idea of “coexistence between simplified and traditional Chinese characters.”

Traditional Chinese Characters as Unified Font

According to Chosun Daily , a South Korean newspaper, more than 5,000 commonly used words will be standardized mainly to traditional characters by experts. The simplified version of some rare characters will be kept if it already exists.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education's Language Application Research Institute and the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL). During the seminar, a plan was introduced which would expand the participating parties to Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao and other Chinese-speaking countries and regions. A Dictionary of Comparative Studies of Chinese Characters from the four countries was agreed to be published to uniform the fonts. It was also decided that the ninth seminar will be held in Seoul next year.

The International Seminar on Chinese characters was initiated by South Korea in 1991. Its aim has been to identify the commonly used words, promote the standardization of the fonts, so as to prevent confusion between different fonts used in East Asian countries, such as the traditional characters used in South Korea and Taiwan, the simplified characters being used in mainland China, and the abbreviated words in Japan.

CCP's Simplified Characters Unable To Replace Traditional Characters

Dr. Zhang Tian Liang, an Epoch Times columnist, believes that mainly using traditional characters as the unified font has positive significance. A major feature of Chinese characters is the stableness of the fonts. People can still communicate within the written domain, no matter what dialect they speak.

He said that this unique aspect of Chinese characters has made it easy for people to read literature from as early as the Han or even the pre-Qin Dynasty. It would cause cultural disintegration if the font changed.

The Editor-in-Chief of Web Digest, Xu Shuiliang, stated that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) started working on the simplified version of Chinese characters even before it seized power. It announced the Chinese Character Simplification program in 1956, and published the “Summary of Simplified Chinese Characters” in 1964. But, the “Second Chinese Character Simplification program (draft)” failed its ratification and was forced to withdraw in 1977.

Taiwan linguistic researcher and editor-in-chief of “What Ancient Prophecies Tell Us Of Today,” Zhang Fuzhang said that the CCP wanted to replace traditional characters with simplified ones or even Pinyin after it gained power. Its ultimate goal has been to undermine the profound spiritual connotation of traditional Chinese culture, and to cut itself off from any heritage of the traditional culture. It failed, however, due to the large number of homonyms in Chinese. In the process of promoting Chinese, people also found that the simplified characters are simply unable to replace the traditional characters. Reunification of the fonts back to the traditional form has been the general trend.

As Zhang stated, although the simplified characters have fewer strokes, they actually undermine the rules of basic structural components of Chinese characters and their own cultural connotation. Some of the simplified characters even carry the opposite meaning of the originals, thus making Chinese more difficult to learn. It's difficult for people who learn simplified characters to understand ancient literature. Consequently, the Chinese culture has been damaged, and the most valuable part of the culture has been destroyed.