繁体字和简化字 Original Complex Chinese Characters and Simplified Chinese Characters
For thousands of years, Chinese people wrote with original complex Chinese characters ancient books as vast as the open sea, which rendered great service to the recording of history and the spreading of culture.
However, these characters, with many strokes, are hard to recognize, remember, and write. Thus, people created some simplified Chinese characters during each historical period, this process continued through time to sort out and regulate them. The First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty introduced shutongwena, which was the first large-scale sorting and standardization. From the development of Chinese characters for thousands of years, we can see that the overall evolving trend of Chinese characters is simplification.
Simplified Chinese characters are those with fewer strokes adapted from complex ones with many strokes. After 1949, in order to make education universal, the Chinese government simplified Chinese characters in a unified and relatively large-scale way, when more than 2,000 original complex Chinese characters were successively replaced by simplified ones. Major methods to simplify Chinese characters are as follows: 1. Replace complicated basic components with simple symbols, such as 难─难, and 学─学. 2. Retain part of original complex Chinese character, such as 开─开, 习─习, and 医─医. 3. Replace original complex Chinese character with its homophone of simple strokes, such as 后─后, and 丑捘? 4. Borrow ancient Chinese characters, such as 云─云, and 尘─尘. 5. Transform caoshub (cursive or grass script) into kaishu (regular script), such as 书─书, 乐─乐, and 当─当. 6. Replace the phonetic element of pictophonetic characters, such as 拥─拥, and 怜─怜. 7. Form new characters by traditional methods, such as pictophonetic ones 护─护, and 响─响, and associative compounds 笔─笔 and 岩─岩.
At present, simplified Chinese characters are one of the working languages of the United Nations, while original complex ones are still in common use in Taiwan Province and Hong Kong.