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Thread poster: Beth M F Garcia

Beth M F Garcia  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:15
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 9, 2005

Dear Colleagues,
If possible I would like to ask you for your advice. For a very long time I have wanted to learn Chinese and finally I have the time to do so. However I have been doing some research on the internet and am confused. Many language courses offer the option of Traditional, Simplified and Pinyin Chinese. I have tried to research these three options, but I can not understand what I should be learning. If I study the Traditional option and go to China will I be able to read the signs on the streets, order from a menu, or read a book? Are they similar enough to where if I study the Traditional I will be able to also read and write the Simplified? Is the Pinyin basically a “western/phonetic” way of writing Chinese? (and if so – which one?)
What advise could you give me as someone with no knowledge at all of Chinese as to where to start from?
I appreciate everyone for taking the time out to answer my many questions.
Kind regards,

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Mark Xiang
Local time: 20:15
English to Chinese
+ ...
It depends on what you learn Chinese for. May 10, 2005

The Facts:

Simplified Chinese: Mainly used in Mainland China, Singapore etc. And more and more popular in HK, oversea Chinese communities

Traditional Chinese: Mainly used in HK, Taiwan, some oversea Chinese communities.

Pingyin: Pronunciation System of simplified Chinese.

Hope that helps.


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Beth Dennison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:15
Chinese to English
+ ...
Chinese in UK May 10, 2005

Dear Beth,

In answer to your queries, traditional Chinese is that written in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Simplified Chinese is that written in mainland China. Pinyin is simply the romanisation of the language.

I would advise against purely studying pinyin. If you do so, you will be able to converse with people in mainland China, but won't be able to read or write at all.

If you are interested in visiting China, you should learn simplified Chinese as that is what you will see written around you. If it is Hong Kong or Taiwan that is of interest, choose traditional.

What level are you thinking of studying Chinese up to? I studied Chinese at Durham university which, like other university courses, teaches you to read and write simpified Chinese and to read traditional Chinese. This has served me well.

If I can offer an further advice, please don't hesitate to contact me via my profile page.

I wish you all the best.


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