Monday, September 29, 2008

Simplifications to written Chinese in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Cantonese language is commonly used in daily life. have always been used as the de facto standard character set in Hong Kong since Imperial China era till the present day. This article discusses the simplifications performed on written Chinese that could be found in informal communications in Hong Kong. It should be noted that the debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters has been ongoing for some time.

Background information

The of the People's Republic of China has been promoting the use of simplified Chinese characters in mainland China since their inception in 1949, and adopted the character set as the standard writing system of from 1956 onwards. Nevertheless, since Hong Kong was a British crown colony before 1997, and was granted after 1997, simplified Chinese character has never been officially recognised in Hong Kong. Traditional Chinese character has always been used as the de facto standard character set in Hong Kong since Imperial China era till the present day.

Customary, unregulated simplification of Chinese characters have been evolved by the general public to increase efficiency for writing particular complex characters in informal situations. This practice is commonly used by waiters in restaurants and s. Sometimes, even English words or other symbols are used as substitutes for complex characters.

Since the above practice is not officially regulated, the method of simplification varies from person to person, and may be incomprehensible to other Chinese readers. The practice is generally regarded as being in the domain of the uneducated, and is rarely seen in formal occasions.

Types of simplification

# The simplification can be done by replacing a complicated traditional Chinese character with another simpler traditional Chinese character that has a similar pronunciation in .
# The simplification is often done by using English letters to make up a "word" that sounds like the Chinese word.
# The simplification can also be done by incorporating regulation simplified Chinese characters into text made up of traditional Chinese characters.

Examples of simplifications

Note: sounds like ; the simplification to "0" is very common and can be seen on bottled drinks and receipts.

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