Chinese characters (简化字; jiǎnhuàzì) are
Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General
Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with
traditional Chinese characters, it is one of the two standard
character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The
government of the People's
Republic of China
Seal (bird-worm large small)
Semi-cursive Cursive Flat brush
Imitation Song Ming Sans-serif
Kangxi Dictionary Xin Zixing
General Standard Chinese Characters (PRC)
Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese Characters (Hong Kong)
Standard Typefaces for Chinese Characters (ROC Taiwan)
Graphemic variants General Standard Characters (PRC) Jōyō kanji (Japan)
Commonly-used Characters (PRC) Frequently-used Characters (PRC) Tōyō kanji (Japan)
(first round second round)
Old (Kyūjitai) New (Shinjitai)
Differences in Shinjitai and Simplified characters
Table of Simplified Characters
Literary and colloquial readings
Use in particular scripts
Written Chinese Zetian characters
Nü Shu Kanji (Kokuji) Kana (Man'yōgana) Idu Hanja (Gukja) Nom Sawndip
v t e
1.1.1 Before 1949 1.1.2 People's Republic of China
2 Method of simplification
2.1 Structural simplification of characters 2.2 Derivation based on simplified character components 2.3 Elimination of variants of the same character 2.4 Adoption of new standardized character forms 2.5 Consistency
3 Distribution and use
3.1 Mainland China
3.2 Hong Kong
4.1 Mainland China
4.2 Hong Kong
4.4.1 Europe 4.4.2 East Asia 4.4.3 Southeast Asia
5 Computer encoding 6 Web pages 7 See also 8 Notes and references 9 Further reading 10 External links
Although most of the simplified
Chinese characters in use today are
the result of the works moderated by the government of the People's
Republic of China
The first batch of Simplified Characters introduced in 1935 consisted of 324 characters.
One of the earliest proponents of character simplification was Lubi
Kui, who proposed in 1909 that simplified characters should be used in
education. In the years following the
May Fourth Movement in 1919,
many anti-imperialist Chinese intellectuals sought ways to modernise
China. Traditional culture and values such as
challenged. Soon, people in the Movement started to cite the
traditional Chinese writing system as an obstacle in modernising China
and therefore proposed that a reform be initiated. It was suggested
that the Chinese writing system should be either simplified or
completely abolished. Fu Sinian, a leader of the May Fourth Movement,
Chinese characters the "writing of ox-demons and snake-gods"
(牛鬼蛇神的文字). Lu Xun, a renowned Chinese author in the 20th
century, stated that, "If
Chinese characters are not destroyed, then
China will die." (漢字不滅，中國必亡) Recent commentators
have claimed that
Chinese characters were blamed for the economic
problems in China during that time.
In the 1930s and 1940s, discussions on character simplification took
place within the
Structural simplification of characters
All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Chart 1 and Chart
2 in Jianhuazi zong biao (简化字总表), "Complete List of
Simplified Characters" announced in 1986.
Chart 1 lists all 350 characters that are used by themselves, and can
never serve as 'simplified character components'.
Chart 2 lists 132 characters that are used by themselves as well as
utilized as simplified character components to further derive other
simplified characters. Chart 2 also lists 14 'components' or
'radicals' that cannot be used by themselves, but can be generalized
for derivation of more complex characters.
Derivation based on simplified character components
Chart 3 lists 1,753 characters which are simplified based on the same
simplification principles used for character components and radicals
in Chart 2. This list is non-exhaustive, so if a character is not
already found in Chart 1, 2 or 3, but can be simplified in accordance
with Chart 2, the character should be simplified.
Elimination of variants of the same character
Series One Organization List of Variant Characters accounts for some
of the orthography difference between
Mainland China on the one hand,
Structural simplification of characters All characters simplified this way are enumerated in Chart 1 and Chart 2 in the Complete List of Simplified Characters. Characters in both charts are structurally simplified based on similar set of principles. They are separated into two charts to clearly mark those in Chart 2 as 'usable as simplified character components', based on which Chart 3 is derived. Replacing a character with another existing character that sounds the same or similar:
穀 → 谷; 醜 → 丑; 蘋 → 苹; 鬆 → 松; 隻 → 只; 乾、幹 → 干; 髮 → 发; etc.
Using printed forms of cursive shapes (草書楷化):
書 → 书; 長 → 长; 當 → 当; 韋 → 韦; 樂 → 乐; 車 → 车;興 → 兴; 發 → 发; 東 → 东; 專 → 专; 過 → 过; 報 → 报; 爾 → 尔; 盡 → 尽; 學 → 学; etc.
Replacing a component of a character with a simple symbol such as 又 and 乂:
對 → 对; 觀 → 观; 歡 → 欢; 難 → 难; 鳳 → 凤; 風 → 风; 這 → 这; 劉 → 刘; etc.
Omitting entire components:
廠 → 厂; 廣 → 广; 誇 → 夸; 習 → 习; 寧 → 宁; 滅 → 灭; 親 → 亲; 業 → 业; 鄉 → 乡; 餘 → 余; 氣 → 气; etc.
Further morphing a character after omitting some components:
婦 → 妇; 麗 → 丽; 歸 → 归; 顯 → 显; 務 → 务; etc.
Preserving the basic outline or shape of the original character
飛 → 飞; 龜→ 龟; 齒 → 齿; 奪 → 夺; 門 → 门; 見 → 见; etc.
Replacing the phonetic component of phono-semantic compound characters:
鄰 → 邻; 斃 → 毙; 蠟 → 蜡; 鍾/鐘→ 钟; 艦 → 舰; etc.
Replacing some arbitrary part of a character with a phonetic component, turning it into a new phono-semantic compound character:
華 → 华; 憲 → 宪; 歷、曆 → 历; 賓 → 宾; etc.
Replacing entire character with a newly coined phono-semantic compound character:
護 → 护; 驚 → 惊; 藝 → 艺; 響 → 响; etc.
Removing radicals from characters
麼 → 么; 開 → 开; 裡 → 里; 餘 → 余; 關 → 関 → 关; etc.
Only retaining radicals from characters
廣 → 广; 個 → 个; 親 → 亲; 產 → 产; 類 → 类; 廠 → 厂; 鄉 → 乡; etc.
Adopting obscure ancient forms or variants:
塵 → 尘; 膚 → 肤; 從 → 从; 眾 → 众; 雲 → 云; 網 → 网; 與 → 与; 無 → 无; 電 → 电; etc.
Adopting ancient vulgar variants:
體 → 体; 國 → 国; 憑 → 凭; 陽 → 阳; 陰 → 阴; etc.
Re-adopt abandoned phonetic-loan characters:
餘 → 余; 後 → 后; 裏, 裡 → 里; etc.
Modifying a traditional character to simplify another traditional character:
義 → 义(乂); 發 → 发(友); 龍 → 龙(尤); 無 → 无(天); 頭 → 头(大); 萬 → 万(方); etc.
Derivation based on simplified character components Based on 132 characters and 14 components listed in Chart 2 of the Complete List of Simplified Characters, the 1,753 'derived' characters found in the non-exhaustive Chart 3 can be created by systematically simplifying components using Chart 2 as a conversion table. While exercising such derivation, following rules should be observed:
The "Complete List of Simplified Characters" employs character components, not the traditional definition of radicals. A component refers to any conceivable part of a character, regardless of its position within the character, or its relative size compared to other components in the same character. For instance, in the character 摆, not only is 扌 (a traditional radical) considered a component, but so is 罢.
Each of the 132 simplified characters in Chart 2, when used as a component in compound characters, systematically simplify compound characters in exactly the same way the Chart 2 character itself was simplified. For instance, 單 is simplified in Chart 2 to 单. Based on the same principle, these derivations can be made: 彈 → 弹; 嬋 → 婵; 囅 → 冁; etc. The 14 simplified components in Chart 2 are never used alone as individual characters. They only serve as components. Example of derived simplification based on the component 𦥯, simplified to 龸, include: 學 → 学; 覺 → 觉; 黌 → 黉; 學 → 学; etc.
Chart 1 collects 352 simplified characters that generally cannot be used as components. Even in rare cases where a Chart 1 character is found as a component in a compound character, the compound character cannot be simplified in the same way. For instance, 習 is simplified in Chart 1 to 习, but 褶 cannot be simplified to 「衤习」. A character that is already explicitly listed as simplified character in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" cannot be alternatively simplified based on derivation. For instance, 戰 and 誇 are simplified in Chart 1 to 战 and 夸 respectively, thus they cannot be simplified alternatively by derivation via 单 and 讠 in Chart 2 to 「𢧐」 and 「讠夸」. 過 is simplified in Chart 2 to 过, thus it cannot be alternatively derived via 呙 in Chart 2 as 「𬨨」.
𦥯 → 龸, thus 學 → 学; 覺 → 觉; 黌 → 黉; etc. 單 → 单, thus 彈 → 弹; 嬋 → 婵; 囅 → 冁; etc. 頁 → 页, thus 顏 → 颜; 頷 → 颔; 順 → 顺; 額 → 额; etc. 專 → 专, thus 傳 → 传; 轉 → 转; 磚 → 砖; etc. 食 → 饣, thus 飯 → 饭; 飽 → 饱; 飼 → 饲; 餃 → 饺; etc.
Elimination of variants of the same character The "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters" reduces the number of total standard characters. First, amongst each set of variant characters sharing identical pronunciation and meaning, one character (usually the simplest in form) is elevated to the standard character set, and the rest are obsoleted. Then amongst the chosen variants, those that appear in the "Complete List of Simplified Characters" are also simplified in character structure accordingly. Some examples follow: Sample reduction of equivalent variants:
姪 → 侄; 蹤 → 踪; 恆 → 恒; 佇 → 伫; 虖、嘑、謼 → 呼; 夠 → 够 etc.
In choosing standard characters, often ancient variants with simple structures are preferred:
異 → 异; 淚 → 泪; 災、烖、菑 → 灾; etc.
Vulgar forms simpler in structure are also chosen:
傑 → 杰; 貓 → 猫; 豬 → 猪; 獃、騃 → 呆; etc.
The chosen variant was already simplified in Chart 1:
裏 → 裡 → 里; 歎 → 嘆 → 叹; 唘、啓 → 啟 → 启; 鬦、鬪、鬭 → 鬥 → 斗; 厤、暦 → 曆 → 历; 歴 → 歷 → 历; etc.
In some instance, the chosen variant is actually more complex than eliminated ones. This is often taken up by opponents of simplification who are not aware of the dual goals of simplification (i.e. in structure of characters as well as in total number of characters) to decry that simplification does not always simplify characters. An example is the character 搾 which is eliminated in favor of the variant form 榨. Note that the "hand" radical 扌, with three strokes, on the left of the eliminated 搾 is now "seen" as more complex, appearing as the "tree" radical 木, with four strokes, in the chosen variant 榨. Adoption of new standardized character forms The new standardized character forms started in the "List of character forms of General Used Chinese characters for Publishing" and revised through the "List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese" tend to adopt vulgar variant character forms. Since the new forms take vulgar variants, many characters now appear slightly simpler compared to old forms, and as such are often mistaken as structurally simplified characters. Some examples follow: The traditional component 釆 becomes 米:
粵 → 粤; 奧 → 奥; etc.
The traditional component 囚 becomes 日:
溫 → 温; 媼 → 媪; etc.
The traditional "Break" stroke becomes the "Dot" stroke:
虛 → 虚; 噓 → 嘘; etc.
The traditional components ⺥ and 爫 become ⺈:
靜 → 静; 睜 → 睁; etc.
The traditional component 奐 becomes 奂:
換 → 换; 煥 → 焕; etc.
The traditional component 袁 becomes 元:
園 → 园; 遠 → 远; etc.
Consistency It is a common misconception that the simplification process is arbitrary and not based on consistent rules. These allegations are often made when people 'discover' their own 'principles of simplification' from anecdotal evidence. Note, however, that simplification by derivation must follow the rules mentioned earlier. An often cited example of the apparent irregularity of simplification involves characters that appear to share the simple symbol 又 used in many simplified characters in Chart 1. Often it is intuited that 又 is a 'character component', after observing 漢 → 汉, 難 → 难, 癱 → 瘫, etc. A student of simplification may infer that the same simplification mechanism also works for 嘆 → 叹 and 灘 → 滩. When observing that 歎 → 叹, 歡 → 欢, 勸 → 劝, 灌 (not simplified) and 罐 (not simplified), one may come to the conclusion that the process of simplification is irregular. However, in the Complete List of Simplified Characters, 漢 → 汉 appears in Chart 1. 難 → 难 is listed in Chart 2. And 癱 → 瘫 is a derived character found in the non-exhaustive list in Chart 3. Therefore, 难 is defined as a 'simplified character component' according to the standard, while 又 is not. Based on 难, 癱 is simplified to 瘫, and 灘 to 滩. In the "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters", the variant character 歎 is replaced by 嘆. The character 嘆 is simplified in Chart 1 to 叹. Therefore, 歎 → 叹. Both 歡 → 欢 and 勸 → 劝 appear in Chart 1. Thus they are not defined as derived characters. There are no characters or components found in Chart 2 usable for derivation of 灌 and 罐. Further investigation reveals that these two characters do not appear in Chart 1 nor in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters". Thus they are not defined as simplified characters; they remain unchanged from traditional forms in the "List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese". Not all new character forms result in simpler characters (i.e. fewer strokes). For instance, the old form 強, with 11 strokes, now appears as 强, with 12 strokes, in the new form. However, technically, these new character forms do not constitute simplified characters. Strangely, some characters with the water radical with three dots 氵 in the traditional form were simplified into the ice radical with two dots 冫 in the simplified form. Some examples are 決 → 决, 況 → 况, and 湊 → 凑. Distribution and use
The slogan 战无不胜的毛泽东思想万岁! (Zhàn wúbù shèng
de Máo Zédōng sīxiǎng wànsuì!; Long live the invincible Mao
Zedong Thought!) on
The People's Republic of China,
Notes and references
^ Refer to official publications: zh:汉字简化方案,
^ 教育部就《汉字简化方案》等发布 50
周年答记者提问 Semi-centennial celebration of the publication
of Chinese Character Simplification Plan and official press
。Detailed account of the Chinese simplification effort
^ Examples of characters where a component is replaced by an
arbitrarily chosen and simplistic symbol include:
^ a b In his book, 彭小明 fails to understand that 又 is not used
as a simplified component (簡化偏旁), thus derides the 'supposedly
inconsistent application' of 又 in 欢, 汉, 仅, etc. The author
also misrepresents the rationale behind the simplification of 團, as
well as cursive-based simplifications. See zh:簡化字#簡化方法
and explanations in original, official papers such as 简化字总表.
^ See zh:簡化字#簡化方法
^ In '17个角度看到繁简体汉字 (经济观察网)' (part1 and
part2), for instance, the scholar 裴钰 praises the simplified
character 体 as an ingenious new invention, when in fact it has
existed for hundreds of years (see 康熙字典「体」).
^ "Simplified Chinese characters". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved
^ 关于《通用规范汉字表》公开征求意见的公告. Page
about the list at the State Language Commission's website, including a
link to a pdf of the list. Accessed 2009.08.18.
^ 汉字，该繁还是简？. Syndicated from 人民日报 (People's
Daily), 2009-04-09. Accessed 2009.04.10.
^ 专家称恢复繁体字代价太大 新规范汉字表将公布
Syndicated from 新京报, 2009-04-09. Accessed 2009.04.10.
^ China to regulate use of simplified characters_English_Xinhua.
News.xinhuanet.com (2009-08-12). Retrieved on 2013-07-21.
^ Yen, Yuehping.  (2005). Calligraphy and Power in Contemporary
Chinese Society. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-31753-3
^ "China to regulate use of simplified characters", China View, August
12, 2009. Accessed 2009-08-17.
^ All examples listed here are sourced from
简化字#字型結構簡化#簡化方法 where all entries are
associated with proper references.
^ a b This is very similar to the 'elimination of variants of the same
character' in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters",
except that these eliminations happen in Chart 1 and Chart 2 of
"Complete List of Simplified Characters". Characters simplified in
Chart 2 can be further used for derivation of Chart 3, but those
chosen in "Series One Organization List of Variant Characters" cannot.
^ 基測作文 俗體字不扣分，蘋果日報，April 12th, 2006.
^ Shih, Hsiu-chuan (14 December 2010). "Premier respects ‘choice’
on spelling". Taipei Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
^ Xing, Janet Zhiqun (2006). Teaching and Learning Chinese as a
Foreign Language: A Pedagogical Grammar.
Bergman, P. M. (1980). The basic English-Chinese, Chinese-English
dictionary: using simplified characters (with an appendix containing
the original complex characters) transliterated in accordance with the
new, official Chinese phonetic alphabet. New York: New American
Library. ISBN 0-451-09262-7.
Bökset, R. (2006). Long story of short forms: the evolution of
simplified Chinese characters. Stockholm
Andrew West, Proposal to Encode Obsolete Simplified Chinese Characters
Stroke Order Animation and Dictionary of Simplified Chinese Characters
v t e
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