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Why does Hong Kong use traditional Chinese

Why does Hong Kong use traditional Chinese? 

Hong Kong is known as the melting pot of Eastern and Western Culture. Despite its history and globalization, an important detail stays deeply ingrained in the city’s identity: the Traditional Chinese way of writing. 

In this article, we’ll delve into why we Hongkongers use it, the difference between Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and which one is best for you to learn if you’re in our city.

What is traditional Chinese writing?

Traditional Chinese writing is a written script used for the Chinese language. Compared to Simplified Chinese, it started emerging during 200 BC, which gives it a longer and richer history.

Why does Hong Kong use Traditional Chinese? 

Hong Kong uses Traditional Chinese today because it was the earlier-introduced method of writing to the territory and has persisted through the years. Many Hongkongers also recognize it as part of their rich cultural heritage and are proud of it. They express this pride by the favoring Traditional over Simplified Chinese writing. 

What are other places that use Traditional Chinese aside from Hong Kong? 

Other places that use Traditional Chinese aside from Hong Kong are Taiwan and Macau. However, there are some differences between Traditional Chinese in Hong Kong and Taiwan, with some characters present in one territory’s writing and absent in another. 

Ultimately, both are still quite similar, so they’re both just called Traditional Chinese for the sake of easier translation. 

What’s the difference between Traditional Chinese writing and Simplified Chinese writing? 

The difference between Traditional Chinese writing and Simplified Chinese writing is that the former is an older and more complex version of the latter. Simplified Chinese was allegedly introduced to make literacy easier to achieve, which explains why it is considered a simplification of the Traditional version.

So, how does this simplification of Chinese writing work? It’s usually done through combining characters and minimizing the strokes. It also means the removal of nonessential parts of the characters to create a simpler version. 

This makes characters less complicated to write and read. That said, there are characters that are the same in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese because they can’t be simplified further.

A great example of this is the character for person, which is written as 人. As you can see, it’s written very simply even in the Traditional method, so it couldn’t be simplified further. 

Should I learn Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese? 

There are plenty of pros and cons between learning Traditional Chinese or Simplified Chinese. We explained it further below to help you decide if it’s worth learning either one because ultimately, the choice is up to you. 

Advantages to learning Traditional Chinese

  • Script has a richer history
  • Better if you want to read traditional texts 
  • A great advantage if you’re planning to live in Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan 

Disadvantages to learning Traditional Chinese

  • Harder to learn, being more complicated and having more characters 

Advantages to learning Simplified Chinese

  • Easier to learn because it has fewer strokes per character 
  • Useful if planning to live in Mainland China or Singapore

Disadvantages to learning Simplified Chinese

  • Believed to be of lower cultural value in some areas
  • Considered impolite in some places
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