Archive for August 23rd, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Xu Zhiyong released on bail

Legal scholar and member of the currently defunct Open Constitution legal service (公盟) Xu Zhiyong (许志永) has been released on bail after more than three weeks in custody, reports the BBC Chinese service.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chinese Characters Revision Draft

After eight years of efforts, the Education Ministry unveiled a list of 8,300 standardized Chinese characters in common usage to solicit public opinion 10 days ago in hopes to regulate the way of characters writing, writes Xinhuanet. The ministry hopes that the measure will help to regulate the way of writing characters, and targets the way certain characters are printed.

It is planned to adjust the shape a total of 44 Chinese characters. According to Singapore’s Morning News (联合早报), the  ministry claims that 70% of comments it receives support the changes. Morning News writes that on the internet, many people apparently feel that the issue is a useless pain in the neck (瞎折腾, xia zheteng), and some complain that one billion people will have to learn Chinese characters anew. The paper quotes Xinhua reporting that the Common Standard Chinese Characters List (通用规范汉字表) is open for public consultation from August 12 to August 31.

Among the 44 characters in question are 琴 (qin, zither),  征 (zheng), 魅 (mei), 籴 (di), 褰 (qian), 巽 (xun, trigram), 亲 (qin), 杀 (sha, kill), 条 (tiao), 茶 (cha, tea), 新 (xin, new), 杂 (za), 恿 (怂恿, (songyong, instigate), 瞥 (pie, glimpse), 蓐 (ru, mattress), 溽 (ru, muggy), 缛 (ru, elaborate), 褥 (ru, mattress again), 耨 (nou, old weeding tool), 薅 (hao, to weed), 唇 (chun, lip), 蜃 (shen), 毂 (gu, hub).

Another 55 characters are considered allogeneic (异体), and to be recovered or unified in some way, among them 淼 (miao, flood), 喆 (zhe, same meaning as 哲), and 堃 (kun, same meaning as 坤, female).

Xinhua‘s English website quotes a Chinese primary school teacher saying that many of the 44 characters designated for revision are in frequent use, and as the revisions will mainly apply to the use of the 44 characters in publications, such publications could confuse learners.

The ministry of education is traditionally in charge of defining the use of Chinese characters. In August 1935, partly drawing on a dictionary (简体字谱) compiled by Qian Xuantong (錢玄同) earlier the same year, the Republic of China’s ministry of education published its First Simplified Hanzi List (第一批简体字表), according to a historical account by Hefei Educational Channel. In 1952, it was the Chinese Language Reform Committee (中国文字改革委员会) which collected schloars’ suggestions for simplifying the characters. After some more administrational reforms and the publication of two simplification lists in 1964, much of “simplification” was in the hands of the Cultural Revolution’s Red Guards from 1967 to 1969. They didn’t become frequently used, and in 1986, the second 1964 list was also scrapped, and the Chinese Language Reform Committee was restructured State Language Work Committee (国家语言文字工作委员会).

The Committee belongs to the Ministry of Education and takes Putonghua tests which are also mandatory for teachers who use Mandarin in teaching Chinese Language Subject in Hong Kong (reading and writing abilities, listening and speaking, correct writing of characters, imagination and systematic thinking, and moral values).

Singapore and Malaysia usually use the characters as defined by Beijing.

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