The temperature’s dropping

It’s not even stopping.

This has to be the coldest day I’ve experienced in Hong Kong.If you breathe a little hard, you can see your breath. I was thinking when I went out this afternoon that I should’ve worn my gloves as well. All right, so that’s a little extreme, but it’s not far off being the sort of temperature at which you’d be wanting to wear gloves.

In unrelated news, there was an article on the back page of yesterday’s SCMP about the UN switching to simplified characters for Chinese. That small part of the Chinese-speaking world that still commonly uses traditional characters are all upset. Simplified characters are used by a far larger number of people than traditional ones, and they’re solely confined to the Mainland these days. Of course, the UN’s decision to switch doesn’t prevent people in Hong Kong or Taiwan from continuing to use traditional characters.

There have been a few times when the subs on DVDs I’ve shown have traditional characters. I’ve asked my pupils if they have any problems understanding them, but they don’t even although they are the nth gener­ation to have been taught simplified ones. Sometimes the simplified char­acter is probably obvious, and other times it can be determined from con­text. There might be a few occasions when it might not be obvious, but I don’t think traditional characters on the Mainland probably pose a sig­ni­fic­ant obstacle to the younger generation.

However, this is the modern language I’m talking about. I wonder how much Chinese from 500 or 1000 years ago, simplified characters or not, is genuinely intelligible without explanatory footnotes. Your average speaker of English would not be able to understand a text from 1008 and one from 1508 would only be partially comprehensible, although it might seem to be modern English – of a sort.

On the back page of today’s SCMP, there’s an article about that perennial pain in the posterior, Internet censorship in China. It says

Many, in fact, seem only vaguely aware that China’s internet universe is carefully pruned, and even among those who know, most hardly seem to care.

Those of you who are regular readers will recall that I and others have made the observation that Internet censorship in China is a bigger nuisance for foreigners than it is for the Chinese. And it’s not that we give that much of a damn about all those things that get Nanny hot and sweaty [I assume you aren’t referring to sex toys. –ed.], but rather that much that’s irrelevant to China gets blocked in the process (e.g. blogspot and other blog providers; harmless sites such as Omniglot).


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