Should We Return to Complex Chinese Characters?
As one famous professor stated, “One can only appreciate the beauty of ancient Chinese literature through the complex Chinese characters.” What the professor wants to convey is that complex Chinese characters are manifestation of traditional Chinese aesthetics. However, since the foundation of the PRC, China began to adopt simplified Chinese characters, so that illiteracy can be more easily eliminated.
Undoubtedly, the introduction of simplified Chinese characters contributes to China’s modernization. So when a member of the national committee of CPPCC proposed that we should return to Complex Chinese Characters, ongoing debates ensued with vehemence. Personally, it is impractical to return to Complex Chinese Characters, but individuals can voluntarily make efforts to know Complex Chinese Characters.
Firstly, since the simplified characters have played an indispensable role in people’s lives, we will have to pay the price if we return to Complex Chinese Characters. To be specific, education administration has to bear the burden of changing textbooks; the corporate world will have to change their advertisements, contracts and other documents; the government has to change their seals, documents, agreements and treaties with foreign nations. Of course there are other costs resulting from the return to Complex Chinese Characters. But the question lies in who are willing to bear the costs. In some impoverished areas, many families can not afford to receive education; when the global economy is reduced to a slow-down, the corporate world is making efforts to cut costs. Therefore, I perceive the policy of returning to Complex Chinese Characters will trigger oppositions from the public.
Secondly, considering the amount of complex Chinese characters, can all the Chinese learn to recognize them overnight? While students have the time to learn Complex Chinese Characters, what about people in other domains? The corporate world can not afford to interrupt their business, government officials and civil servants can not be distracted from running our country, doctors and nurses have to be at work in case that emergency arises, to list three typical domains that will be affected by the policy.
Admittedly, returning to Complex Chinese Characters will help preserve traditional Chinese culture. When China becomes more involved in the world, western cultures, especially American culture, have influenced Chinese people at an unprecedented level. Many young people look to learning foreign culture as fashionable. However, the obvious benefits can not make us embrace the policy with open arms, for we should also bear in mind whether the policy is feasible.