The Chinese are such characters

Simplified vs. traditional – that old chestnut.

I saw there was a story on EastSouthWestNorth about the UN’s an­nounce­ment that they’d switch to simplified characters for the Chinese trans­lat­ions of their official documents from 2008. Some additional comments about this caused a stir throughout the Chinese Internet.

Simplified characters were developed after the Revolution and are used on the mainland while traditional characters were retained elsewhere (e.g. Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan). You’ll still see traditional characters in use on the mainland, but that’s often in advertising or, as I find locally, the names of companies. They are regarded as sophisticated and elegant.

The traditional vs. simplified thing shouldn’t be exaggerated. Most of the char­acters in use are the same no matter where you are in the Chinese speaking world. There are still characters here on the mainland which have bother­somely large numbers of strokes, which would seem to have been candidates for simplification because people can’t spell them anyway. The most complicated character, as far as I’m aware, is 齉 [nàng] “snuffling”.

[07.08.14. Possibly, it was never simplified because the radical (which is the whole left-hand side of the character) is quite rare. Even the extremely ancient 甲骨 (jiǎgǔ; tortoise shell), script gives no visual clues as to how this radical represents a nose. The character looks like a drawing of a person wearing a crown or some sort of head­dress.]

My view of the two types is that traditional characters are mostly over­com­plicated, unattractive, and messy; simplified characters are mod­ern, forward-looking, and dynamic. I do have one exception, though, and that’s the character for “car”. Before I came to China, I knew the trad­it­ion­al version which bears a clear resemblance to a top-down view of a chariot (viz., 車 che). When I got here, I found the character was written 车, which looks more like a car crash than a car.

[07.08.14. These days I’m not really that bothered. I have heard of injunctions against traditional characters in public displays (e.g. advertising), but there were also stories a few years ago about relaxing prohibitions against traditional characters. Although they may never return to favour, they may not be that far below the surface, either.

The signs in schools, admonishing pupils to use standard characters, do seem to be some throwback to a ban on traditional rather than non-canonical ones.]

So that’s what bras are for.

I’m off buying lunch and the TV’s on. There an advert for bras. Now this wouldn’t ordinarily raise an eyebrow, but the selling point (or perhaps that should be points; and no, this is not some retro joke from some cheap 70s sitcom) was somewhat different.

The selling point was that these bras would give you cleavage (cue lingering cleavage shots). Not only that, but they’d also make your boobs bigger. That’s not look bigger, but actually grow bigger (cue more lingering cleavage shots).

There were various shots of flat-chested girls looking thoroughly miserable followed by shots of same girl now sporting cleavage and grateful for it. There were also several shots of girls squeezing their boobs or having them squeezed to give them some lift.

Who said advertising in China was subtle?

Although I can’t obviously offer you a female perspective on bras in China, to me they look more like some form of armour plating and are, frankly, bulky and horrible looking.


One thought on “The Chinese are such characters”

  1. hey cool space pop by mine sumtime and leave me a comment cheers have a gd wk end tc jayne xx

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