First of all I’m learning Chinese but I’m NOT fluent. I started Learning Chinese a year ago and I chose to learn traditional Chinese. I will explain to you the differences between the two and why I chose Traditional Chinese.
Traditional Chinese characters ! Which I personally call Original or True Chinese characters. The name Traditional Chinese makes it sound like it’s old or unmodern, which is not! They appeared about 3000 years ago, started to be standardized during the Han Dynasty (that’s why they’re called Hanzi, Characters of the Han) and by the Tang dynasty they got their final form as we used them nowadays. They are used in Taiwan, Hong-Kong, and Macau and by most overseas Chinese communities.
As I chose to learn traditional Chinese, it is obvious that I prefer the traditional Chinese over the simplified Chinese.
Here is what I like in traditional Chinese characters :
- They simply look awesome!
- They’re used for calligraphy, which is an art that I really like.
- Each character has a deep meaning.
- They are the real representation of the traditional Chinese culture.
- Be able to write traditional Chinese makes you look so intelligent.
- It will help if later you want to learn Japanese (90% of Japanese kanjis are the same as the traditional Chinese characters or look really similar) or Korean Hanja (100% traditional).
But I have to admit that traditional Chinese has its disadvantages also :
- They can be hard to read on very small font (I’ve personally never felt that issue).
- If you want to write every character completely (without using personal simplifications), it takes a lot of time.
Simplified Chinese, on the other hand, first appeared in 50’s. The communist government of China wanted to simplify the characters to make them “easier” to learn for the population. They are used in China, Malaysia and Singapore.
I personally don’t have any problem with simplification, Japan simplified some of its Kanjis and for most of them they really did a great job. However Simplified Chinese is just extreme! They simplified characters that didn’t need to be simplified at all! Take for example the character 車 (car) ; the character is simple enough making its simplification 车 completely useless!
The only advantage of simplified Chinese to me is that they are quick to write. And for why I don’t like them, well, they are really ugly, hard to read (as every character looks the same) and they have lost all their deep meanings.
Well, it’s gonna sound weird but, NO, simplified Chinese is NOT easier to learn than traditional Chinese. A Chinese character works as a logical puzzle and not as a stupid amount of strokes. In this case, removing strokes to a character to make it look simpler does not make it easier to learn. You will need the exact same amount of time to learn simplified than to learn traditional Chinese.
- If you WANT to learn Chinese, because you’re interested in the language and in the Chinese culture, then I’ll advise you to learn Traditional Chinese. You will find them more enjoyable to learn.
- If you HAVE to learn Chinese, because you’re boss asked you to do a business trip in China for example, and that you don’t have real interest in the language, then it will be better to learn simplified Chinese.
But after all, this is a personal choice and you can do whatever you want.
I hope you appreciated my thought on the subject! Please leave a comment if you have a question or If you wanna react on something.
PS : English is not my native language, sorry in advance for the mistakes.