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Online databases detail cross-strait languages

Illustrating the difference between Chinese language use in Taiwan and the mainland, Li pointed out that it is actually inaccurate to call characters used in Taiwan as “Traditional Chinese” (or 繁體, which literally means “complex characters”) because Taiwanese people do not consider the characters complicated. They are instead recognized in Taiwan as the “standard characters” (標準字體). Their simplified counterparts, on the other hand, are also inappropriately described as simplified, because they actually comprise only one-fifth of the common characters used in the mainland. The characters are called “norm characters” (規範字體) in mainland China, Li explained.

To address this difference, the dictionary will be published in two versions: the standard character version in Taiwan and the norm character one in China.

Different Language Use Addressed

The difference in language development over the past 60 years also led to the divergence in the use of terms by people from both sides, Xu Jialu (許嘉璐), chief advisor to the dictionary, pointed out.

  In some cases, people in Taiwan and China use different terms to describe the same matter. For example, computer software is known as “ruanti” (軟體) in Taiwan and “ruanjian” (軟件) in mainland China, Xu explained. In other cases, identical terms are used by both sides to mean different things: the term “tuochan” (脫產) refers to the release of workers from production lines in the mainland. In Taiwan, the terms has more to do with white collar employees as it describes the practice of transferring assets out to avoid expropriation by the court.

People in Taiwan and China have also coined unique terms such as “caomizu” (草莓族, literally the “strawberry tribe,” a rough equivalent of the millennial generation of people attractive on the outside but who can be easily crashed by pressure) in Taiwan and “luse shiwu” (綠色食物, “green food” as in eco-friendly food) in the mainland, etc.

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1 Comment
February 9, 2012    mb14uk@
繁體 means 'complex', not 'complicated'. There's a difference. Characters aside, though, thank goodness you have finally started using hanyu pinyin Romanization. When I was in Taiwan in the early 1990s, I struggled to learn Chinese not so much because of the characters, but because of the bizarre mix of Wade-Giles and Yale Romanization and the totally pointless 'bo po mo fo' phonetic system. hanyu pinyin is more accurate and easier for foreigners to learn, but the old regime in Taiwan wouldn't accept it for political reasons. My Chinese started developing back home in England and in Beijing, where I learned using pinyin and simplified characters.
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President Ma Ying-jeou, second right, inspects a website that incorporates a database on cross-strait language use launched in Taipei, yesterday. The president said the database will serve as a platform for cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and boost mutual understanding.

(CNA)

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