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Surprising Chinese character simplifications

If you’re learning to read (and write) both simplified and traditional Chinese characters (简体字 / 繁体字), you’ve probably come across a few character simplifications that don’t seem to make a lot of sense. With a lot of help from a friend, I’ve compiled two lists of such characters here.

够 / 夠

The first list contains simplified characters that appear to be completely different to their traditional counterpart. That is, you can’t see any logic to the simplification as you can with most characters. Some of these are actually very old simplifications that were in use for decades or centuries before the simplification program under the Communist Party, so there may be deeper reasons beyond the strange simplifications.

Simplified character is completely different

The following are simplified characters that are completely different from their traditional counterpart. That is, there seem to be no corresponding components or clear visual simplifications. If you disagree or know the reasoning behind any of these simplifications, please point it out in the comments!

碱 / 鹼 (jiǎn) 卫 / 衛 (wèi) 几 / 幾 (jǐ) 惊 / 驚 (jīng) 护 / 護 (hù) 义 / 義 (yì) 乐 / 樂 (lè) 斗 / 鬥 (dòu) 尔 / 爾 (ěr) 体 / 體 (tǐ) 响 / 響 (xiǎng) 尽 / 盡 (jìn) 击 / 擊 (jī) 灵 / 靈 (líng) 备 / 備 (bèi) 凭 / 憑 (píng) 关 / 關 (guān) 丑 / 醜 (chǒu) 苏 / 甦 (sū) 别 / 彆 (biè) 旧 / 舊 (jiù) 冲 / 衝 (chōng) 于 / 於 (yú) 了 / 瞭 (liǎo) 干 / 乾 (gān) 肤 / 膚 (fū) 只 / 隻 (zhǐ) 听 / 聽 (tīng) 买 / 買 (mǎi)

Character simplifications that aren’t simpler

This list contains simplified characters that just aren’t any simpler than their traditional versions, which seems to defeat the object. Some of them have the exact same number of strokes, or even the same components but arranged differently. The explanation for a lot of these is actually that during simplification, the Communist Party took the opportunity to set standards for variant characters.

够 / 夠 (gòu) 内 / 內 (nèi) 没 / 沒 (méi) 别 / 別 (bié) 凛 / 凜 (lǐn) 册 / 冊 (cè) 况 / 況 (kuàng) 耻 / 恥 (chǐ) 恒 / 恆 (héng)

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