5 Reasons To Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

Last Updated on August 26, 2017

Among the many reasons to learn Traditional Chinese Characters, this article will discuss 5 reasons to learn Traditional Chinese Characters

Traditional Chinese Characters. Image via pixabay.com

1. You Will Be Able To Read Chinese Texts From Before The 1950’s

Since most of the simplifications of Chinese Characters were done in the 1950’s and 1960’s, you may have much difficulty reading Chinese texts from before the 1950’s. While you certainly could guess on various characters’ meanings, sometimes you may run into roadblocks.

2. You Will Be Able To At Least Recognize Many Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese Chinese Characters

Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, all used Chinese characters in the past as the written form of their language. Japan still uses Kanji, but also uses other scripts such as Hiragana and Katakana. King Saejong in Korea in the 1400’s, created Hangul, which now has almost completely replaced Hanja in Korea.

And, Vietnam used to use Chữ Nôm as the written form of their language until the 1920’s, while under French control, the Vietnamese Alphabet mostly replaced Chinese Characters in Vietnamese.

3. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau All Use Traditional Chinese Characters.

Especially in Taiwan, at least in the recent past, they were very firm in preserving Traditional Chinese culture and civilization. Chinese culture in Mainland China changed a lot during and after the Cultural Revolution, but Taiwan tried to preserve Traditional Chinese culture.

Similarly, in Hong Kong and Macau, there is still a lot of Traditional Chinese culture there. Likewise, Hong Kong and Macau still use Traditional Chinese Characters today.

4. If you want to know both scripts, it is probably easier to learn Traditional Chinese Characters first.

Because of the way the simplifications were done, usually, one Traditional Character maps to just one Simplified Character, but multiple Traditional Characters could be simplified as the same Simplified Character, so it may be difficult going from Simplified to Traditional. For example, 臺灣 (tai2 wan1) is simplified as 台湾,  颱風 (tai2 feng1) is simplified as 台风, and 檯面 (tai2 mian4) is simplified as 台面. As you can see, 臺, 颱, and 檯 are all simplified as 台, so it may be difficult going back from Simplified to Traditional. You can use our tool here to practice converting Traditional Chinese Characters into Simplified Chinese Characters.

5. Knowing Traditional Characters may actually, in the long run, help you learn much more about Chinese culture and learn Chinese more quickly.

Phonetic clues, and etymology may help you learn why many Chinese Characters are the way that they are. Often, phonetic clues are present in the Traditional Chinese Character, but are lost in the Simplified Chinese Character. For example, in the Traditional Chinese Character for chicken, 雞 (ji1), 奚(xi1) is the phonetic part because xi1 rhymes with ji1, and the meaning part of the character is 隹, which indicates some kind of bird. But, the simplified version of the character is 鸡, and while 鸟 indicates that it is some kind of bird, the phonetic part of the character has been lost.

What did you think of this article? Do you have anything to add? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

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