I took my written placement exam for the Chinese language school this morning. Before the test, students were asked to divide themselves: traditional characters vs. simplified characters. Chinese can be written to two forms, traditional and simplified. Traditional characters are the original characters in full form. Simplified character were created to increase literacy rates in China and are reduced versions of characters.
Far and away, more than 70% of the summer school students (from around the country) took the simplified character test. Regular-year Middlebury College Chinese students learn and are tested on both forms during the school year and so I witnessed my Middlebury classmates debating which version of the test to take. Oddly enough, a majority of Middlebury students chose to take the test in traditional form. What does that say about the Middlebury Chinese program?
I have a great affection for traditional characters. They are not only more beautiful to write but they possess a unique quality. It’s much more satisfying to learn a really hard traditional character with over 20 strokes. Yes, I am even part of the Facebook group: i heart ftz (fan ti zi).
On a related note, I was forwarded a petition today to “Say NO to United Nations’ abolishment of traditional Chinese in 2008.” Please take a look and sign the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/region/237/8314.html