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China to abolish Chinese characters, replace with pinyin

Just seen this article on BBC News:


Bad times. I guess I should’ve seen it coming, really. The CCP are planning to abolish all use of Chinese characters in the PRC, and replace them with pinyin.

From the article:

“Chinese characters, or hanzi, are arguably the most famous emblem of Chinese culture. During their 5000 year history, they have developed into one of the most recognisable written scripts in the world.

The Chinese government, however, has decided that the ancient writing system is out-dated and needs replacing with a more modern, efficient alternative.

A likely candidate is the most recent romanisation system for Mandarin Chinese, known as pinyin.

Yu Renjie, head of the People’s Redesign and Normalisation Committee, told the BBC that Chinese characters were ‘inefficient’.

‘What’s important is that people can learn our national language quickly and easily. Our current writing system only gets in the way of that. Using the roman alphabet is much easier. Just look at English - no foreigners have any trouble pronouncing that.’

This new directive from the Chinese Communist Party follows a large-scale simplification of the Chinese script in the 1950s, when thousands of traditional character forms were replaced with less complex simplified forms.

How this latest change will be implemented in schools across China remains to be seen, but Mr Yu remains optimistic.

‘Some people may think this is a joke, but it’s a very serious business. Having fifty-thousand buttons on computer keyboards just isn’t feasible any more.'”

That kind of puts me out of a job here. Guess I’ll just focus on speaking and listening now instead; if it’s all pinyin, those skills should transfer pretty well to reading and writing without much extra effort.

Also it’s going to be a bit of a downer for Skritter - half their business is teaching people to write Chinese characters. Not so much need for pinyin.

Oh well, there’s still kanji…

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