From: Edward H. Trager (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Mar 15 2004 - 21:13:40 EST
On Monday 2004.03.15 11:50:05 -0800, Mike Ayers wrote:
> > From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On
> > Behalf Of Frank Yung-Fong Tang
> > Sent: Monday, March 15, 2004 11:16 AM
> > It seems not a very new idea. Similar idea have been used in
> > Chinese 40
> > years ago and create the differences between Simplifed Chinese And
> > Traditional Chinese.
> Really? That conflicts with my understanding, which is:
> When writing Chinese, there are certain stroke elements which, when
> written in the more flowing script of everyday usage (grass script et al.),
> closely resemble other stroke elements which use less strokes to write.
> These stroke reduced elements are substituted for the original elements.
> Also, there are certain "paired" character elements, such that one may be
> substituted for the other, and the quicker-to-write stroke reduced element
> gets substituted. I do not really understand these substitutions, but it is
> my understanding that they are intuitive to literate Chinese. These two
> "simplification" methods were formalized and standardized to become
> Simplified Chinese.
> Am I getting this wrong? I don't see the connection between organic
> change in a script and singular revolutionary change.
No, you are basically correct. I think it would be correct to say that people who
learned the traditional characters first in school have little problem with the
simplified characters, most of which are indeed based on conventional handwritten
forms which simplify a number of strokes. But for the younger generation who learned only the
simplified forms used in the Mainland, the traditional forms are more of a headache to
get comfortable with. Given all of the trade with Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and all the
other overseas Chinese communities where traditional characters are used, not to mention
the proliferation of information in both sets of characters on the web, I'm not quite
sure how young native speakers really deal with it except that eventually, one way or
the other, one *has* to learn both the simplified and traditional forms. Of course,
it is only a set of a few thousand characters that might change between simplified and
traditional, so for a native educated speaker who already has the other ten thousand
memorized, maybe it's not overwhelming ...
For non-native students of Chinese, like myself, I can tell you it is most certainly
in one's best interest to learn *both* the simplified and traditional forms. It's kind
of a headache ...
As for that patent on non-cursive Arabic letters that can be written either left-to-right
or right-to-left, I doubt it will ever come to much practical use, really. Having taught
myself the Arabic alphabet more-or-less (I say "more or less" because I'm never going to
really have a good feel for it until I decide to study one of the *languages* written in
the script (i.e., Arabic), after which it will all become second-nature...), I really didn't
find the right-to-left aspect nor the cursive aspect difficult at all! That cursive
calligraphic character of Arabic script is what is so appealing about it!
Now, what I *did* find difficult was the way Arabic glyph types and joining behaviour is
described in the Unicode Standard, because everything is presented from the left-to-right
perspective. It is really much easier to just suspend one's cultural notion that scripts "normally"
run left-to-right, pick up a good book like Awde and Samano's "The Arabic Alphabet"
(Kensington Publ.), learn the alphabet from right-to-left the way it is meant to be learned,
... and finally after that, one can come back and easily see what's required for arabic
shaping in left-to-right-dominated software systems ...
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