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How was simplification done?

rgwatwormhill   June 20th, 2011 9:20a.m.

Hi all.

I'm learning mainly simplified characters (though I've picked up a few traditional because some of our resources are in trad). At some point I hope to add the traditional too, and I was wondering if anyone knew of a good website (or even book) that explains the system/method/conventions/history behind the simplification process. I don't want to learn it one character at a time if there are any shortcuts.

Any advice?

Thanks.
Rachael.

sj   June 20th, 2011 10:52a.m.

I read a very short description in Far East Pinyin Chinese-English English-Chinese dictionary. In that book there are also the most common characters in Simpflified and Traditional. I would say it is not so complex, even short description helps to master quite many hanzi in both ways without too much trouble.

Easiest ones: ( SHORTCUT )
In fact most of characters are quite easy as the main differece is how to write radical or some other common component in the character. So if you really know the character it is easy to write it in simplified or traditional. 誰 just change the radical to simplified or even some components in character such as 見 etc. , it is very easy to change the writing to either simplifed or traditional.

The basic methods in simplification;
( SHORCUT at least if you know the traditional )
1. Omission of components. Easy to see in many traditional characters such as 號. If you forget the right side, you get the simplified characters. These are usually quite easy to remember writing both ways, if you first learn the traditional. Just remember to write only part of character.

2. Rephonenticiation
In this some part (or all) of character is replaced with a phonetic component ( usally very common phonetic character ).
This is the probably most usual method to generate simplified characters. But for these these is no easy way to remember the traditional, simplified conversion. E.g 鍾 to make simplified replace the radical on the left side and change the right side to 中. In many cases you have to just learn both characters, double effort.

3. New semantic compounds
There are some simplifed hanzi, where there is a new !meaning! component. For instance the character 孫 has in the simplified form on the right side 小 which together with 子 on the left side might help to realize the meaning of hanzi.

and so on...

I have tried to study both at the same time. This has the benefit, you actually learn the "simplification" rules quite quickly. Also the traditional hanzi makes many "difficult" or complex simplified quite eas to remember. The hanzi are built of same components over and over again also in traditional hanzi and when you learn to recognize those, it gets easier to build your hanzi set on the top of those you already master.

joshwhitson13   June 20th, 2011 3:07p.m.

If you add both to Skritter, even without looking up how simplification was done, you will notice the consistent changes VERY fast. Often after seeing a traditional or simplified character for the first time, I can guess the correct way to write it in the other form.

cmccorvey   June 20th, 2011 6:57p.m.

The Wikipedia article linked below provides a good overview of the simplification process.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_Chinese_characters#Method_of_simplification

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