Simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
(简化字; jiǎnhuàzì)[1] are standardized Chinese characters
Chinese characters
prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy.[2] They are officially used in the People's Republic of China
Republic of China
and Singapore. Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese
characters are currently used in Hong Kong, Macau, and the Republic of China
Republic of China
(Taiwan). While traditional characters can still be read and understood by many mainland Chinese and the Chinese community in Malaysia
and Singapore, these groups generally retain their use of Simplified characters. Overseas Chinese
Overseas Chinese
communities generally tend to use traditional characters. Simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
may be referred to by their official name above or colloquially (简体字;  jiǎntǐzì). The latter refers to simplifications of character "structure" or "body", character forms that have existed for thousands of years alongside regular, more complicated forms. On the other hand, the official name refers to the modern systematically simplified character set, which (as stated by then-Chairman Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
in 1952) includes not only structural simplification but also substantial reduction in the total number of standardized Chinese characters.[3] Simplified character forms were created by reducing the number of strokes and simplifying the forms of a sizable proportion of Chinese characters. Some simplifications were based on popular cursive forms embodying graphic or phonetic simplifications of the traditional forms. Some characters were simplified by applying regular rules, for example, by replacing all occurrences of a certain component with a simplified version of the component. Variant characters with the same pronunciation and identical meaning were reduced to a single standardized character, usually the simplest amongst all variants in form. Finally, many characters were left untouched by simplification, and are thus identical between the traditional and simplified Chinese orthographies. Some simplified characters are very dissimilar to and unpredictably different from traditional characters, especially in those where a component is replaced by a simple symbol.[4] This often leads opponents not well-versed in the method of simplification to conclude that the 'overall process' of character simplification is arbitrary.[5][original research?] In reality, the methods and rules of simplification are few and internally consistent.[6] On the other hand, proponents of simplification often flaunt a few choice simplified characters as ingenious inventions, when in fact these have existed for hundreds of years as ancient variants.[7][original research?] A second round of simplifications was promulgated in 1977, but was later retracted in 1986 for a variety of reasons, largely due to the confusion caused and the unpopularity of the second round simplifications.[8] However, the Chinese government never officially dropped its goal of further simplification in the future.[citation needed] In August 2009, the PRC began collecting public comments for a modified list of simplified characters.[9][10][11][12] The new Table of General Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
Characters consisting of 8,105 (simplified and unchanged) characters was promulgated by the State Council of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
on June 5, 2013.[13]

Chinese characters



Oracle-bone Bronze

Seal (bird-worm large small)

Clerical Regular

Semi-cursive Cursive Flat brush

Type styles

Imitation Song Ming Sans-serif


Strokes (order)

Radicals Classification


Character-form standards

Kangxi Dictionary Xin Zixing

General Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese
Characters (PRC)

Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters (Hong Kong)

Standard Typefaces for Chinese Characters (ROC Taiwan)

Grapheme-usage standards

Graphemic variants General Standard Characters (PRC) Jōyō kanji
Jōyō kanji

Previous standards

Commonly-used Characters (PRC) Frequently-used Characters (PRC) Tōyō kanji
Tōyō kanji



Traditional characters

Simplified characters

(first round second round)



Old (Kyūjitai) New (Shinjitai)



Differences in Shinjitai
and Simplified characters




Table of Simplified Characters


Literary and colloquial readings

Use in particular scripts

Written Chinese Zetian characters Slavonic transcription

Nü Shu Kanji (Kokuji) Kana (Man'yōgana) Idu Hanja (Gukja) Nom Sawndip

v t e


1 History

1.1 China

1.1.1 Before 1949 1.1.2 People's Republic of China

1.2 Singapore
and Malaysia 1.3 Hong Kong 1.4 Japan

2 Method of simplification

2.1 Structural simplification of characters 2.2 Derivation based on simplified character components 2.3 Elimination of variants of the same character 2.4 Adoption of new standardized character forms 2.5 Consistency

3 Distribution and use

3.1 Mainland China 3.2 Hong Kong 3.3 Taiwan 3.4 Singapore
and Malaysia

4 Education

4.1 Mainland China 4.2 Hong Kong 4.3 Singapore
and Malaysia 4.4 Chinese as a foreign language

4.4.1 Europe 4.4.2 East Asia 4.4.3 Southeast Asia

5 Computer encoding 6 Web pages 7 See also 8 Notes and references 9 Further reading 10 External links

History[edit] China[edit] Before 1949[edit] Although most of the simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
in use today are the result of the works moderated by the government of the People's Republic of China
Republic of China
(PRC) in the 1950s and 60s, character simplification predates the PRC's formation in 1949. Cursive written text almost always includes character simplification. Simplified forms used in print are attested as early as the Qin dynasty
Qin dynasty
(221–206 BC).

The first batch of Simplified Characters introduced in 1935 consisted of 324 characters.

One of the earliest proponents of character simplification was Lubi Kui, who proposed in 1909 that simplified characters should be used in education. In the years following the May Fourth Movement
May Fourth Movement
in 1919, many anti-imperialist Chinese intellectuals sought ways to modernise China. Traditional culture and values such as Confucianism
were challenged. Soon, people in the Movement started to cite the traditional Chinese writing system as an obstacle in modernising China and therefore proposed that a reform be initiated. It was suggested that the Chinese writing system should be either simplified or completely abolished. Fu Sinian, a leader of the May Fourth Movement, called Chinese characters
Chinese characters
the "writing of ox-demons and snake-gods" (牛鬼蛇神的文字). Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese author in the 20th century, stated that, "If Chinese characters
Chinese characters
are not destroyed, then China will die." (汉字不灭,中国必亡) Recent commentators have claimed that Chinese characters
Chinese characters
were blamed for the economic problems in China during that time.[14] In the 1930s and 1940s, discussions on character simplification took place within the Kuomintang
government, and a large number of Chinese intellectuals and writers maintained that character simplification would help boost literacy in China.[15] In 1935, 324 simplified characters collected by Qian Xuantong
Qian Xuantong
were officially introduced as the table of first batch of simplified characters, but they were suspended in 1936. People's Republic of China[edit] The PRC issued its first round of official character simplifications in two documents, the first in 1956 and the second in 1964. Within the PRC, further character simplification became associated with the leftists of the Cultural Revolution, culminating with the second-round simplified characters, which were promulgated in 1977. In part due to the shock and unease felt in the wake of the Cultural Revolution and Mao's death, the second-round of simplifications was poorly received.[citation needed] In 1986 the authorities retracted the second round completely. Later in the same year, the authorities promulgated a final list of simplifications, which is identical to the 1964 list except for six changes (including the restoration of three characters that had been simplified in the First Round: 叠, 覆, 像; note that the form 疊 is used instead of 叠 in regions using Traditional Chinese). There had been simplification initiatives aimed at eradicating characters entirely and establishing the Hanyu Pinyin
romanization as the official written system of the PRC, but the reform never gained quite as much popularity as the leftists had hoped.[citation needed] After the retraction of the second round of simplification, the PRC stated that it wished to keep Chinese orthography stable. Years later in 2009, the Chinese government released a major revision list which included 8,300 characters. No new simplifications were introduced. However, six characters previously listed as "traditional" characters that have been simplified, as well as 51 other "variant" characters, were restored to the standard list. In addition, orthographies (e.g., stroke shape) for 44 characters were proposed to be modified slightly to fit traditional calligraphic rules. Also, the practice of unrestricted simplification of rare and archaic characters by analogy using simplified radicals or components is now discouraged. A State Language Commission official cited "oversimplification" as the reason for restoring some characters. The language authority declared an open comment period until August 31, 2009 for feedback from the public.[16] The proposed orthographic changes to 44 characters were not implemented due to overwhelmingly negative public opinion.[17] The officially promulgated version of the List of Commonly Used Standardized Characters, announced in 2013, contained 45 newly recognized standard characters that were previously considered variant forms, as well as official approval of 226 characters that had been simplified by analogy and had seen wide use but were not explicitly given in previous lists or documents. Singapore
and Malaysia[edit] Singapore
underwent three successive rounds of character simplification, eventually arriving at the same set of simplified characters as Mainland China.[18] The first round, consisting of 498 Simplified characters from 502 Traditional characters, was promulgated by the Ministry of Education in 1969. The second round, consisting of 2287 Simplified characters, was promulgated in 1974. The second set contained 49 differences from the Mainland China
Mainland China
system; those were removed in the final round in 1976. In 1993, Singapore
adopted the six revisions made by Mainland China in 1986. However, unlike in mainland China where personal names may only be registered using simplified characters, parents have the option of registering their children's names in traditional characters in Singapore. Malaysia
promulgated a set of simplified characters in 1981, which were also completely identical to the simplified characters used in Mainland China. Chinese-language schools use these. Traditional characters are still often seen in decorative contexts such as shop signs and calligraphy in both countries. Hong Kong[edit] A small group called Dou Zi Sei (T:導字社; S:导字社)/Dou Zi Wui (T:導字會; S:导字会) attempted to introduce a special version of simplified characters using romanizations in the 1930s. Today, however, the traditional characters remain dominant in Hong Kong. Japan[edit] Main article: Shinjitai After World War II, Japan also simplified a number of Chinese characters (kanji) used in the Japanese language. The new forms are called shinjitai. Compared to Chinese, the Japanese reform was more limited, simplifying only a few hundred characters, most of which were already in use in cursive script. Further, the list of simplifications was exhaustive, unlike Chinese simplification – thus analogous simplifications of not explicitly simplified characters (extended shinjitai) are not approved, and instead standard practice is to use the traditional forms. The number of characters in circulation was also reduced, and formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. The overall effect was to standardize teaching and the use of Kanji
in modern literature and media. Method of simplification[edit]

Structural simplification of characters All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Chart 1 and Chart 2 in Jianhuazi zong biao (简化字总表), "Complete List of Simplified Characters" announced in 1986. Chart 1 lists all 350 characters that are used by themselves, and can never serve as 'simplified character components'. Chart 2 lists 132 characters that are used by themselves as well as utilized as simplified character components to further derive other simplified characters. Chart 2 also lists 14 'components' or 'radicals' that cannot be used by themselves, but can be generalized for derivation of more complex characters. Derivation based on simplified character components Chart 3 lists 1,753 characters which are simplified based on the same simplification principles used for character components and radicals in Chart 2. This list is non-exhaustive, so if a character is not already found in Chart 1, 2 or 3, but can be simplified in accordance with Chart 2, the character should be simplified. Elimination of variants of the same character Series One Organization List of Variant Characters accounts for some of the orthography difference between Mainland China
Mainland China
on the one hand, and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
and Taiwan
on the other. These are not simplifications of character structures, but rather reduction in number of total standard characters. For each set of variant characters that share the identical pronunciation and meaning, one character (usually the simplest in form) is elevated to the standard character set, and the rest are obsoleted. After rounds of revisions, by 1993, some 1,027 variant characters have been declared obsolete by this list. Amongst the chosen variants, those that appear in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" are also simplified in character structure accordingly. Adoption of new standardized character forms New standardized character forms originated from the "List of character forms of General Used Chinese characters
Chinese characters
for Publishing" containing 6,196 characters, published in 1965. The new forms tend to adopt vulgar variant forms for most of its characters. The List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese list, published in 1988, contains 7,000 commonly used characters, and replaces the 1965 list. Since the new forms take vulgar variants, many characters now appear slightly simpler compared to old forms, and as such are often mistaken as structurally simplified characters.

Structural simplification of characters[edit] All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Chart 1 and Chart 2 in the Complete List of Simplified Characters. Characters in both charts are structurally simplified based on similar set of principles. They are separated into two charts to clearly mark those in Chart 2 as 'usable as simplified character components', based on which Chart 3 is derived.[19] Replacing a character with another existing character that sounds the same or similar:

穀 → 谷; 醜 → 丑; 蘋 → 苹; 鬆 → 松; 隻 → 只; 乾、幹 → 干; 髮 → 发; etc.

Using printed forms of cursive shapes (草書楷化):

書 → 书; 長 → 长; 當 → 当; 韋 → 韦; 樂 → 乐; 車 → 车;興 → 兴; 發 → 发; 東 → 东; 專 → 专; 過 → 过; 報 → 报; 爾 → 尔; 盡 → 尽; 學 → 学; etc.

Replacing a component of a character with a simple symbol such as 又 and 乂:

對 → 对; 觀 → 观; 歡 → 欢; 難 → 难; 鳳 → 凤; 風 → 风; 這 → 这; 劉 → 刘; etc.

Omitting entire components:

廠 → 厂; 廣 → 广; 誇 → 夸; 習 → 习; 寧 → 宁; 滅 → 灭; 親 → 亲; 業 → 业; 鄉 → 乡; 餘 → 余; 氣 → 气; etc.

Further morphing a character after omitting some components:

婦 → 妇; 麗 → 丽; 歸 → 归; 顯 → 显; 務 → 务; etc.

Preserving the basic outline or shape of the original character

飛 → 飞; 龜→ 龟; 齒 → 齿; 奪 → 夺; 門 → 门; 見 → 见; etc.

Replacing the phonetic component of phono-semantic compound characters:

鄰 → 邻; 斃 → 毙; 蠟 → 蜡; 鍾/鐘→ 钟; 艦 → 舰; etc.

Replacing some arbitrary part of a character with a phonetic component, turning it into a new phono-semantic compound character:

華 → 华; 憲 → 宪; 歷、曆 → 历; 賓 → 宾; etc.

Replacing entire character with a newly coined phono-semantic compound character:

護 → 护; 驚 → 惊; 藝 → 艺; 響 → 响; etc.

Removing radicals from characters

麼 → 么; 開 → 开; 裡 → 里; 餘 → 余; 關 → 関 → 关; etc.

Only retaining radicals from characters

廣 → 广; 個 → 个; 親 → 亲; 產 → 产; 類 → 类; 廠 → 厂; 鄉 → 乡; etc.

Adopting obscure ancient forms or variants:[20]

塵 → 尘; 膚 → 肤; 從 → 从; 眾 → 众; 雲 → 云; 網 → 网; 與 → 与; 無 → 无; 電 → 电; etc.

Adopting ancient vulgar variants:[20]

體 → 体; 國 → 国; 憑 → 凭; 陽 → 阳; 陰 → 阴; etc.

Re-adopting abandoned phonetic-loan characters:

餘 → 余; 後 → 后; 裏, 裡 → 里; etc.

Modifying a traditional character to simplify another traditional character:

義 → 义(乂); 發 → 发(友); 龍 → 龙(尤); 無 → 无(天); 頭 → 头(大); 萬 → 万(方); etc.

Derivation based on simplified character components[edit] Based on 132 characters and 14 components listed in Chart 2 of the Complete List of Simplified Characters, the 1,753 'derived' characters found in the non-exhaustive Chart 3 can be created by systematically simplifying components using Chart 2 as a conversion table. While exercising such derivation, following rules should be observed:

The "Complete List of Simplified Characters" employs character components, not the traditional definition of radicals. A component refers to any conceivable part of a character, regardless of its position within the character, or its relative size compared to other components in the same character. For instance, in the character 摆, not only is 扌 (a traditional radical) considered a component, but so is 罢.

Each of the 132 simplified characters in Chart 2, when used as a component in compound characters, systematically simplify compound characters in exactly the same way the Chart 2 character itself was simplified. For instance, 單 is simplified in Chart 2 to 单. Based on the same principle, these derivations can be made: 彈 → 弹; 嬋 → 婵; 囅 → 冁; etc. The 14 simplified components in Chart 2 are never used alone as individual characters. They only serve as components. Example of derived simplification based on the component 𦥯, simplified to 龸, include: 學 → 学; 覺 → 觉; 黌 → 黉; etc.

Chart 1 collects 352 simplified characters that generally cannot be used as components. Even in rare cases where a Chart 1 character is found as a component in a compound character, the compound character cannot be simplified in the same way. For instance, 習 is simplified in Chart 1 to 习, but 褶 cannot be simplified to 「衤习」. A character that is already explicitly listed as simplified character in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" cannot be alternatively simplified based on derivation. For instance, 戰 and 誇 are simplified in Chart 1 to 战 and 夸 respectively, thus they cannot be simplified alternatively by derivation via 单 and 讠 in Chart 2 to 「𢧐」 and 「讠夸」. 過 is simplified in Chart 2 to 过, thus it cannot be alternatively derived via 呙 in Chart 2 as 「𬨨」.

Sample Derivations:

𦥯 → 龸, thus 學 → 学; 覺 → 觉; 黌 → 黉; etc. 單 → 单, thus 彈 → 弹; 嬋 → 婵; 囅 → 冁; etc. 頁 → 页, thus 顏 → 颜; 頷 → 颔; 順 → 顺; 額 → 额; etc. 專 → 专, thus 傳 → 传; 轉 → 转; 磚 → 砖; etc. 食 → 饣, thus 飯 → 饭; 飽 → 饱; 飼 → 饲; 餃 → 饺; etc. 言 → 讠, thus 話 → 话; 語 → 语; 誰 → 谁; etc.

Elimination of variants of the same character[edit] The "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters" reduces the number of total standard characters. First, amongst each set of variant characters sharing identical pronunciation and meaning, one character (usually the simplest in form) is elevated to the standard character set, and the rest are obsoleted. Then amongst the chosen variants, those that appear in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" are also simplified in character structure accordingly. Some examples follow: Sample reduction of equivalent variants:

姪 → 侄; 蹤 → 踪; 恆 → 恒; 佇 → 伫; 虖、嘑、謼 → 呼; 夠 → 够 etc.

In choosing standard characters, often ancient variants with simple structures are preferred:

異 → 异; 淚 → 泪; 災、烖、菑 → 灾; etc.

Vulgar forms simpler in structure are also chosen:

傑 → 杰; 貓 → 猫; 豬 → 猪; 獃、騃 → 呆; etc.

The chosen variant was already simplified in Chart 1:

裏 → 裡 → 里; 歎 → 嘆 → 叹; 唘、啓 → 啟 → 启; 鬦、鬪、鬭 → 鬥 → 斗; 厤、暦 → 曆 → 历; 歴 → 歷 → 历; etc.

In some instance, the chosen variant is actually more complex than eliminated ones. This is often taken up by opponents of simplification who are not aware of the dual goals of simplification (i.e. in structure of characters as well as in total number of characters) to decry that simplification does not always simplify characters. An example is the character 搾 which is eliminated in favor of the variant form 榨. Note that the "hand" radical 扌, with three strokes, on the left of the eliminated 搾 is now "seen" as more complex, appearing as the "tree" radical 木, with four strokes, in the chosen variant 榨. Adoption of new standardized character forms[edit] The new standardized character forms started in the "List of character forms of General Used Chinese characters
Chinese characters
for Publishing" and revised through the "List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese" tend to adopt vulgar variant character forms. Since the new forms take vulgar variants, many characters now appear slightly simpler compared to old forms, and as such are often mistaken as structurally simplified characters. Some examples follow: The traditional component 釆 becomes 米:

粵 → 粤; 奧 → 奥; etc.

The traditional component 囚 becomes 日:

溫 → 温; 媼 → 媪; etc.

The traditional "Break" stroke becomes the "Dot" stroke:

虛 → 虚; 噓 → 嘘; etc.

The traditional components ⺥ and 爫 become ⺈:

靜 → 静; 睜 → 睁; etc.

The traditional component 奐 becomes 奂:

換 → 换; 煥 → 焕; etc.

The traditional component 袁 becomes 元:

園 → 园; 遠 → 远; etc.

Consistency[edit] It is a common misconception that the simplification process is arbitrary and not based on consistent rules. These allegations are often made when people 'discover' their own 'principles of simplification' from anecdotal evidence.[5] Note, however, that simplification by derivation must follow the rules mentioned earlier. An often cited example of the apparent irregularity of simplification involves characters that appear to share the simple symbol 又 used in many simplified characters in Chart 1. Often it is intuited that 又 is a 'character component', after observing 漢 → 汉, 難 → 难, 癱 → 瘫, etc. A student of simplification may infer that the same simplification mechanism also works for 嘆 → 叹 and 灘 → 滩. When observing that 歎 → 叹, 歡 → 欢, 勸 → 劝, 灌 (not simplified) and 罐 (not simplified), one may come to the conclusion that the process of simplification is irregular. However, in the Complete List of Simplified Characters, 漢 → 汉 appears in Chart 1. 難 → 难 is listed in Chart 2. And 癱 → 瘫 is a derived character found in the non-exhaustive list in Chart 3. Therefore, 难 is defined as a 'simplified character component' according to the standard, while 又 is not. Based on 难, 癱 is simplified to 瘫, and 灘 to 滩. In the "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters", the variant character 歎 is replaced by 嘆. The character 嘆 is simplified in Chart 1 to 叹. Therefore, 歎 → 叹. Both 歡 → 欢 and 勸 → 劝 appear in Chart 1. Thus they are not defined as derived characters. There are no characters or components found in Chart 2 usable for derivation of 灌 and 罐. Further investigation reveals that these two characters do not appear in Chart 1 nor in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters". Thus they are not defined as simplified characters; they remain unchanged from traditional forms in the "List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese". Not all new character forms result in simpler characters (i.e. fewer strokes). For instance, the old form 強, with 11 strokes, now appears as 强, with 12 strokes, in the new form. However, technically, these new character forms do not constitute simplified characters. Strangely, some characters with the water radical with three dots 氵 in the traditional form were simplified into the ice radical with two dots 冫 in the simplified form. Some examples are 決 → 决, 況 → 况, and 湊 → 凑. Distribution and use[edit]

The slogan 战无不胜的毛泽东思想万岁! (Zhàn wúbù shèng de Máo Zédōng sīxiǎng wànsuì!; Long live the invincible Mao Zedong Thought!) on Xinhua Gate
Xinhua Gate
in Beijing.

The People's Republic of China, Singapore
and Malaysia
generally use simplified characters. They appear very sparingly in printed text produced in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese communities, although they are becoming more prevalent as China opens to the world. Conversely, the mainland is seeing an increase in the use of traditional forms, where they are often used on signs, and in logos, blogs, dictionaries, and scholarly works. Mainland China[edit] The Law of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
on the National Common Language and Characters implies simplified Chinese as the standard script, and relegates traditional Chinese to certain aspects and purposes such as ceremonies, cultural purposes (e.g. calligraphy), decoration, publications and books on ancient literature and poetry, and research purposes. Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese
remains ubiquitous on buildings predating the promotion of simplified characters, such as former government buildings, religious buildings, educational institutions, and historical monuments. Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese
is also often used for commercial purposes, such as shopfront displays and advertisements, though this isn't officially encouraged. As part of the one country, two systems model, the PRC has not attempted to force Hong Kong
Hong Kong
or Macau
into using simplified characters. The PRC tends to print material intended for people in Hong Kong, Macau
and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese in traditional characters. For example, it prints versions of the People's Daily
People's Daily
in traditional characters and both the People's Daily
People's Daily
and Xinhua websites have versions in traditional characters using Big5 encoding. Mainland companies selling products in Hong Kong, Macau
and Taiwan
use Traditional characters on their displays and packaging to communicate with consumers (the reverse is true as well). Dictionaries
published in mainland China generally show both simplified and their traditional counterparts. In digital media, many cultural phenomena imported from Hong Kong
Hong Kong
and Taiwan
into mainland China, such as music videos, karaoke videos, subtitled movies, and subtitled dramas, use traditional Chinese characters, thereby exposing mainlanders to the use of traditional characters. Hong Kong[edit] Textbooks, official statements, newspapers, including the PRC-funded media, show no signs of moving to simplified Chinese characters. However, some students may opt to use the simplified form when taking notes or doing test papers to write faster. It is common for Hong Kong
Hong Kong
people to learn traditional Chinese characters in school, and some simplified Chinese in passing (either through reading mainland-published books or other media). For use on computers, however, people tend to type Chinese characters
Chinese characters
using a traditional character set such as Big5. In Hong Kong, as well as elsewhere, it is common for people who use both sets to do so because it is much easier to convert from the traditional character set to the simplified character set because of the usage of the aforementioned methods 8 and 9 of simplification[clarification needed]. Taiwan[edit] Simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
are not officially used in governmental and civil publications in Taiwan. However, it is legal to import simplified character publications and distribute them. Certain simplified characters that have long existed in informal writing for centuries also have popular usage, while those characters simplified originally by the Taiwanese government are much less common in daily appearance. In all areas, most handwritten text will include informal simplifications (alternative script) which are not the same as the simplifications officially promulgated by the PRC and are often instead influenced by the shinjitai used in Japan.[citation needed] The informal simplification of the first character of "Taiwan" from 臺 to 台 rivals its orthodox form in commonality, even in print and in answers to school exams.[21][22] Singapore
and Malaysia[edit] In Singapore, where Chinese is one of the official languages, simplified characters are the official standard and used in all official publications as well as government-controlled press. While simplified characters are taught exclusively in schools, the government does not officially discourage the use of traditional characters. While all official publications are in simplified characters, the government still allows parents to choose whether to have their child's Chinese name registered in simplified or traditional characters. In Malaysia, Chinese is not an official language, but over 90% of ethnic-Chinese students are educated in Chinese schools, which have taught simplified characters since 1981. However, traditional characters are widely used by older generations, and are widespread on signboards, etc. Most of Malaysia's Chinese newspapers compromise by retaining traditional characters in article headlines, but using simplified characters for content. As there is no restriction of the use of traditional characters in the mass media, television programmes, books, magazines and music CD's that have been imported from Hong Kong
Hong Kong
or Taiwan
are widely available, and these almost always use traditional characters. Most karaoke discs, being imported from Hong Kong
Hong Kong
or Taiwan, have song lyrics in traditional characters as well. Many shop signs continue to be written in traditional characters.[23] Menus in hawker centres and coffeeshops are also commonly seen in traditional characters. Education[edit] In general, schools in Mainland China, Malaysia
and Singapore
use simplified characters exclusively, while schools in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan
use traditional characters exclusively. Today, simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
predominate among college and university programs teaching Chinese as a foreign language outside of China,[24] such as those in the United States.[25] Mainland China[edit] In December 2004, Ministry of education authorities rejected a proposal from a Beijing CPPCC political conference member that called for elementary schools to teach traditional Chinese characters
Chinese characters
in addition to the simplified ones. The conference member pointed out that most mainland Chinese, especially young people, have difficulties with traditional Chinese characters; this is especially important in dealing with non-mainland communities such as Taiwan
and Hong Kong. The educational authorities did not approve the recommendation, saying that it did not fit in with the "requirements as set out by the law" and it could potentially complicate the curricula.[26] A similar proposal was delivered to the 1st Plenary Session of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March 2008.[27] Hong Kong[edit] Most, if not all, Chinese language
Chinese language
text books in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
are written in traditional characters. Before 1997, the use of simplified characters was generally discouraged by educators. After 1997, while students are still expected to be proficient and utilize traditional characters in formal settings, they may sometimes adopt a hybrid written form in informal settings to speed up writing. With the exception of open examinations, Simplified Chinese characters
Chinese characters
are considered acceptable by the Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Examinations and Assessment Authority for their speed. Singapore
and Malaysia[edit] Chinese textbooks in Singapore
and Malaysia
are written exclusively in simplified characters, and only simplified characters are taught in school. Traditional characters are usually only taught to those taking up calligraphy as a co-curricular activity or Cantonese
as an elective course at school. Chinese as a foreign language[edit]

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As the source of many Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese
textbooks is mainland China, the majority of textbooks teaching Chinese are now based on simplified characters and Hanyu Pinyin – although there are textbooks originating in China which have a traditional version. For practical reasons, universities and schools prepare students who will be able to communicate with mainland China, so their obvious choice is to use simplified characters. In places where a particular set is not locally entrenched, e.g., Europe and the United States, instruction is now mostly simplified, as the economic importance of mainland China increases, and also because of the availability of textbooks printed in mainland China. Teachers of international students often recommend learning both systems. Europe[edit] In the United Kingdom, universities mainly teach Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese
at the undergraduate level using the simplified characters coupled with pinyin. However, they will require the students to learn or be able to recognise the traditional forms if they are studying in Taiwan
or Hong Kong (such as taking Cantonese
courses). In Australia and New Zealand, schools, universities and TAFEs use predominantly simplified characters. Russia and most East European nations are traditionally oriented on the education of the PRC's system for teaching Chinese, which uses simplified characters but exposes the learners to both systems. East Asia[edit] In South Korea, universities have used predominantly simplified characters since 1990s. In high school, Chinese is one of the selective subjects. By the regulation of the national curricula standards, MPS I and traditional characters had been originally used before (since the 1940s), but by the change of regulation, pinyin and simplified characters have been used to pupils who enter the school in 1996 or later. Therefore, MPS I and traditional characters disappeared after 1998 in South Korean high school Chinese curriculum. In Japan there are two types of schools. Simplified Chinese is taught instead of traditional Chinese in pro-mainland China schools. They also teach Pinyin, a romanization system for standard Chinese, while the Taiwan-oriented schools teach Zhuyin, which uses phonetic symbols. However, the Taiwan-oriented schools are starting to teach simplified Chinese and Pinyin
to offer a more well-rounded education.[28] Southeast Asia[edit] In the Philippines, the use of simplified characters is getting more and more popular. Before the 1970s, Chinese schools in the Philippines were under the supervision of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China. Hence, most books were using the Traditional Characters. Traditional Characters remained prevalent until the early 2000s. However, institutions like the Confucius Institute, being the cultural arm of the People's Republic of China, are strong proponents of the use of Simplified Characters. Also, many new schools are now importing their Mandarin textbooks from Singapore
instead of Taiwan. Public universities such as the Linguistics and Asian Languages Department of the University of the Philippines
use Simplified Characters in their teaching materials. On the other hand, private schools such as Chiang Kai Shek College and Saint Jude Catholic School remain major proponents of the usage of Traditional Characters. However, some private universities, such as the Ateneo de Manila University, now use Simplified Characters. Computer encoding[edit] In computer text applications, the GB encoding scheme most often renders simplified Chinese characters, while Big5 most often renders traditional characters. Although neither encoding has an explicit connection with a specific character set, the lack of a one-to-one mapping between the simplified and traditional sets established a de facto linkage. Since simplified Chinese conflated many characters into one and since the initial version of the GB encoding scheme, known as GB2312-80, contained only one code point for each character, it is impossible to use GB2312 to map to the bigger set of traditional characters. It is theoretically possible to use Big5 code to map to the smaller set of simplified character glyphs, although there is little market for such a product. Newer and alternative forms of GB have support for traditional characters. In particular, mainland authorities have now established GB 18030
GB 18030
as the official encoding standard for use in all mainland software publications. The encoding contains all East Asian characters included in Unicode
3.0. As such, GB 18030
GB 18030
encoding contains both simplified and traditional characters found in Big-5 and GB, as well as all characters found in Japanese and Korean encodings. Unicode
deals with the issue of simplified and traditional characters as part of the project of Han unification
Han unification
by including code points for each. This was rendered necessary by the fact that the linkage between simplified characters and traditional characters is not one-to-one. While this means that a Unicode
system can display both simplified and traditional characters, it also means that different localization files are needed for each type. The Chinese characters
Chinese characters
used in modern Japanese (called Kanji characters) have also undergone simplification, but generally to a lesser extent than with simplified Chinese. It is worth mentioning that Japan's writing system utilizes a reduced number of Chinese characters in daily use, resulting partly from the Japanese language reforms; thus, a number of complex characters are written phonetically. Reconciling these different character sets in Unicode became part of the controversial process of Han unification. Not surprisingly, some of the Chinese characters
Chinese characters
used in Japan are neither 'traditional' nor 'simplified'. In this case, these characters cannot be found in traditional/simplified Chinese dictionaries. Web pages[edit] The World Wide Web Consortium's Internationalization working group recommends the use of the language tag zh-Hans as a language attribute value and Content-Language value to specify web-page content in simplified Chinese characters.[29] See also[edit]

Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese
characters Chinese Character Simplification Scheme Debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters Ambiguities in Chinese character
Chinese character
simplification Shinjitai
(新字体 or 新字體 – Japanese simplified characters) Ryakuji

Notes and references[edit]

^ Refer to official publications: zh:汉字简化方案, zh:简化字总表, etc. ^ 教育部就《汉字简化方案》等发布 50 周年答记者提问 Semi-centennial celebration of the publication of Chinese Character Simplification Plan and official press conference. ^ 書同文 :《漢字簡化方案》制訂始末,黄加佳,新华网. Detailed account of the Chinese simplification effort. ^ Examples of characters where a component is replaced by a simple symbol include: 对(對)、邓(鄧)、观(觀)、欢(歡). ^ a b In his book, 彭小明 fails to understand that 又 is not used as a simplified component (簡化偏旁 or 简化偏方), thus deriding the 'supposedly inconsistent application' of 又 in 欢, 汉, 仅, etc. The author also misrepresents the rationale behind the simplification of 團, as well as cursive-based simplifications. See zh:簡化字#簡化方法 and explanations in original, official papers such as 简化字总表. 彭小明,《漢字簡化得不償失》,香港:夏菲爾國際出版公司,2008年01月,ISBN 9789629380687。 ^ See zh:簡化字#簡化方法 ^ In '17个角度看到繁简体汉字 (经济观察网)' (part1 and part2), for instance, the scholar 裴钰 praises the simplified character 体 as an ingenious new invention, when in fact it has existed for hundreds of years (see 康熙字典「体」). ^ "Simplified Chinese characters". Retrieved 2016-03-16.  ^ 关于《通用规范汉字表》公开征求意见的公告. Page about the list at the State Language Commission's website, including a link to a pdf of the list. Accessed 2009.08.18. ^ 汉字,该繁还是简?. Syndicated from 人民日报 (People's Daily), 2009-04-09. Accessed 2009.04.10. ^ 专家称恢复繁体字代价太大 新规范汉字表将公布 Syndicated from 新京报, 2009-04-09. Accessed 2009.04.10. ^ China to regulate use of simplified characters_English_Xinhua. (2009-08-12). Retrieved on 2013-07-21. ^ 国务院关于公布《通用规范汉字表》的通知 ^ Yen, Yuehping. [2005] (2005). Calligraphy and Power in Contemporary Chinese Society. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-31753-3 ^ 简化字的昨天、今天和明天 ^ "China to regulate use of simplified characters", China View, August 12, 2009. Accessed 2009-08-17. ^ "《通用规范汉字表》44个汉字"整形"引发争论".  ^ 新加坡与中国调整简体字的评骘,谢世涯,華語橋 ^ All examples listed here are sourced from 简化字#字型結構簡化#簡化方法 where all entries are associated with proper references. ^ a b This is very similar to the 'elimination of variants of the same character' in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters", except that these eliminations happen in Chart 1 and Chart 2 of "Complete List of Simplified Characters". Characters simplified in Chart 2 can be further used for derivation of Chart 3, but those chosen in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters" cannot. ^ 基測作文 俗體字不扣分,蘋果日報,April 12th, 2006. ^ Shih, Hsiu-chuan (14 December 2010). "Premier respects 'choice' on spelling". Taipei Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.  ^ 新加坡汉字规范的回顾与前瞻,谢世涯,華語橋 ^ Xing, Janet Zhiqun (2006). Teaching and Learning Chinese as a Foreign Language: A Pedagogical Grammar. Hong Kong
Hong Kong
University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-962-209-763-6. For programs in teaching and learning Chinese as FL outside China, the simplified version has gradually gained ground and become the first choice because of student demand…  ^ Norden, Bryan W. Van (2011). Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett Publishing. p. 242. ISBN 9781603846158. Most contemporary Chinese language
Chinese language
programs at U.S. colleges and universities emphasize the simplified form.  ^ 千龙网-北京-市教委驳回政协委员普及繁体字教学建议 (Thousand dragon net – Beijing – city Education Committee rejects commissar of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference to popularize the traditional character teaching suggestion) ^ Debate: A need to introduce traditional characters to schools? ^ School bridges China-Japan gap ^ Richard Ishida (editor): Best Practice 13: Using Hans and Hant codes in Internationalization Best Practices: Specifying Language in XHTML & HTML Content – W3C Working Group Note 12 April 2007.

Further reading[edit]

Bergman, P. M. (1980). The basic English-Chinese, Chinese-English dictionary: using simplified characters (with an appendix containing the original complex characters) transliterated in accordance with the new, official Chinese phonetic alphabet. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-09262-7. Bökset, R. (2006). Long story of short forms: the evolution of simplified Chinese characters. Stockholm East Asian
East Asian
monographs, No. 11. Stockholm: Dept. of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University. ISBN 91-628-6832-2. Chen, H. (1987). Simplified Chinese characters. Torrance, CA: Heian. ISBN 0-89346-293-4.

External links[edit]

Andrew West, Proposal to Encode Obsolete Simplified Chinese Characters Stroke Order Animation and Dictionary of Simplified Chinese Characters Simplified to Traditional Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Conversion Table

v t e

Types of writing systems


History of writing Grapheme


Writing systems

undeciphered inventors constructed

Languages by writing system / by first written accounts






Arabic Pitman shorthand Hebrew

Ashuri Cursive Rashi Solitreo

Tifinagh Manichaean Nabataean Old North Arabian Pahlavi Pegon Phoenician


Proto-Sinaitic Psalter Punic Samaritan South Arabian

Zabur Musnad

Sogdian Syriac

ʾEsṭrangēlā Serṭā Maḏnḥāyā

Teeline Shorthand Ugaritic




Asamiya (Ôxômiya) Bānglā Bhaikshuki Bhujinmol Brāhmī Devanāgarī Dogri Gujarati Gupta Gurmukhī Kaithi Kalinga Khojki Khotanese Khudawadi Laṇḍā Lepcha Limbu Mahajani Meitei Mayek Modi Multani Nāgarī Nandinagari Odia 'Phags-pa Newar Ranjana Sharada Saurashtra Siddhaṃ Soyombo Sylheti Nagari Takri Tibetan

Uchen Umê

Tirhuta Tocharian Zanabazar Square Zhang-Zhung

Drusha Marchen Marchung Pungs-chen Pungs-chung


Ahom Balinese Batak Baybayin Bhattiprolu Buhid Burmese Chakma Cham Grantha Goykanadi Hanunó'o Javanese Kadamba Kannada Karen Kawi Khmer Kulitan Lanna Lao Leke Lontara Malayalam Maldivian

Dhives Akuru Eveyla Akuru Thaana

Mon Old Makassarese Old Sundanese Pallava Pyu Rejang Rencong Sinhala Sundanese Tagbanwa Tai Le Tai Tham Tai Viet Tamil Telugu Thai Tigalari Vatteluttu

Kolezhuthu Malayanma



Boyd's syllabic shorthand Canadian syllabics

Blackfoot Déné syllabics

Fox I Ge'ez Gunjala Gondi Japanese Braille Jenticha Kayah Li Kharosthi Mandombe Masaram Gondi Meroitic Miao Mwangwego Sorang Sompeng Pahawh Hmong Thomas Natural Shorthand



Abkhaz Adlam Armenian Avestan Avoiuli Bassa Vah Borama Carian Caucasian Albanian Coorgi–Cox alphabet Coptic Cyrillic Deseret Duployan shorthand

Chinook writing

Early Cyrillic Eclectic shorthand Elbasan Etruscan Evenki Fox II Fraser Gabelsberger shorthand Garay Georgian

Asomtavruli Nuskhuri Mkhedruli

Glagolitic Gothic Gregg shorthand Greek Greco-Iberian alphabet Hangul Hanifi IPA Kaddare Latin

Beneventan Blackletter Carolingian minuscule Fraktur Gaelic Insular Kurrent Merovingian Sigla Sütterlin Tironian notes Visigothic

Luo Lycian Lydian Manchu Mandaic Medefaidrin Molodtsov Mongolian Mru Neo-Tifinagh New Tai Lue N'Ko Ogham Oirat Ol Chiki Old Hungarian Old Italic Old Permic Orkhon Old Uyghur Osage Osmanya Pau Cin Hau Runic

Anglo-Saxon Cipher Dalecarlian Elder Futhark Younger Futhark Gothic Marcomannic Medieval Staveless

Sidetic Shavian Somali Tifinagh Vagindra Visible Speech Vithkuqi Wancho Zaghawa


Braille Maritime flags Morse code New York Point Semaphore line Flag semaphore Moon type


Adinkra Aztec Blissymbol Dongba Ersu Shaba Emoji IConji Isotype Kaidā Míkmaq Mixtec New Epoch Notation Painting Nsibidi Ojibwe Hieroglyphs Siglas poveiras Testerian Yerkish Zapotec


Chinese family of scripts

Chinese Characters

Simplified Traditional Oracle bone script Bronze Script Seal Script

large small bird-worm

Hanja Idu Kanji Chữ nôm Zhuang


Jurchen Khitan large script Sui Tangut


Akkadian Assyrian Elamite Hittite Luwian Sumerian

Other logo-syllabic

Anatolian Bagam Cretan Isthmian Maya Proto-Elamite Yi (Classical)


Demotic Hieratic Hieroglyphs


Hindu-Arabic Abjad Attic (Greek) Muisca Roman



Celtiberian Northeastern Iberian Southeastern Iberian Khom


Espanca Pahawh Hmong Khitan small script Southwest Paleohispanic Zhuyin


ASLwrite SignWriting si5s Stokoe Notation


Afaka Bamum Bété Byblos Cherokee Cypriot Cypro-Minoan Ditema tsa Dinoko Eskayan Geba Great Lakes Algonquian syllabics Iban Japanese

Hiragana Katakana Man'yōgana Hentaigana Sogana Jindai moji

Kikakui Kpelle Linear B Linear Elamite Lisu Loma Nüshu Nwagu Aneke script Old Persian Cuneiform Vai Woleai Yi (Modern) Yugtun

v t e



1829 braille International uniformity ASCII braille Unicode
braille patterns


French-ordered scripts (see for more)

Albanian Amharic Arabic Armenian Azerbaijani Belarusian Bharati

(Hindi  / Marathi  / Nepali) Bengali Punjabi Sinhalese Tamil Urdu etc.

Bulgarian Burmese Cambodian Cantonese Catalan Chinese (Mandarin, mainland) Czech Dutch Dzongkha (Bhutanese) English (Unified English) Esperanto Estonian Faroese French Georgian German Ghanaian Greek Guarani Hawaiian Hebrew Hungarian Icelandic Inuktitut (reassigned vowels) Iñupiaq IPA Irish Italian Kazakh Kyrgyz Latvian Lithuanian Maltese Mongolian Māori Navajo Nigerian Northern Sami Persian Philippine Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Samoan Scandinavian Slovak South African Spanish Tatar Taiwanese Mandarin
Taiwanese Mandarin
(largely reassigned) Thai & Lao (Japanese vowels) Tibetan Turkish Ukrainian Vietnamese Welsh Yugoslav

Reordered scripts

Algerian Braille

Frequency-based scripts

American Braille

Independent scripts

Japanese Korean Two-Cell Chinese

Eight-dot scripts

Luxembourgish Kanji Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8)

Symbols in braille

music Canadian currency marks Computer Braille
Code Gardner–Salinas braille codes (GS8/GS6) International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
(IPA) Nemeth braille code


e-book Braille
embosser Braille
translator Braille
watch Mountbatten Brailler Optical braille recognition Perforation Perkins Brailler Refreshable braille display Slate and stylus Braigo


Louis Braille Charles Barbier Valentin Haüy Thakur Vishva Narain Singh Sabriye Tenberken William Bell Wait


Institute of America Braille
Without Borders Japan Braille
Library National Braille
Association Blindness organizations Schools for the blind American Printing House for the Blind

Other tactile alphabets

Decapoint Moon type New York Point Night writing Vibratese

Related topics

Accessible publishing Braille
literacy RoboBraille

v t e

Electronic writing systems

Emoticons Emoji iConji Leet Unicode

v t e

Internet slang
Internet slang

3arabizi Alay (Indonesia) Denglisch Doge Fingilish (Persian) Greeklish Gyaru-moji (Japan) Jejemon (Philippines) Leet
("1337") Lolspeak / LOLspeak / Kitteh Martian language (Chinese) Miguxês (Portuguese) Padonkaffsky jargon
Padonkaffsky jargon
(Russian) Translit Volapuk

See also English internet slang (at Wiktionary) SMS language

v t e

Chinese language(s)

Major subdivisions



Harbin Shenyang




Tianjin Jinan


Dalian Qingdao Weihai

Central Plains

Gangou Guanzhong Luoyang Xuzhou Dungan Dongping

Lan–Yin Southwestern

Sichuanese Kunming Minjiang Wuhan

Lower Yangtze




Shanghainese Suzhou Wuxi Changzhou Hangzhou Shaoxing Ningbo Jinxiang Jiangyin Shadi

Taizhou Wu







Quzhou Jiangshan Qingtian



Chang–Du Yi–Liu Ying–Yi Da–Tong






Ji–Xu Yong–Quan




Fuzhou Fuqing Fu'an Manjiang



Quanzhou Zhangzhou Amoy Taiwanese Philippine Hokkien Medan Hokkien Penang Hokkien Singaporean Hokkien Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien

Zhenan Longyan Teochew

Shantou Haifeng


Nanlang Sanxiang



Jian'ou Jianyang

Central Pu–Xian Shao–Jiang Leizhou




Meixian Wuhua Tingzhou


Taiwanese Hakka

Sixian dialect Raoping dialect



Cantonese Xiguan Jiujiang Shiqi Weitou Dapeng

Gao–Yang Siyi


Goulou Wu–Hua Yong–Xun Luo–Guang Qin–Lian


Huizhou Jin




Danzhou Mai Shaozhou Tuhua Waxiang Badong Yao Yeheni Shehua

Standardized forms

Standard Chinese
Standard Chinese

Sichuanese Taiwanese Philippine Malaysian Singaporean

Cantonese Taiwanese Hokkien




Old National Cantonese Mandarin Literary and colloquial readings


Chinese grammar Chinese classifier Chinese Idiom


Old Chinese Eastern Han Middle Chinese Old Mandarin Middle Mandarin Proto-Min Ba–Shu Gan

Literary forms



Adoption in Vietnam


Other varieties

Written Cantonese Written Dungan Written Hokkien Written Sichuanese



Simplified Traditional


Oracle bone Bronze Seal Clerical Semi-cursive Cursive


Braille Mainland Chinese Braille Taiwanese Braille Two-Cell Chinese Braille



Pinyin Wade–Giles

Bopomofo Xiao'erjing Nüshu Chinese punctuation Taiwanese kana Dungan Cyrillic

List of varieties of Chinese

Language p