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I'm curious if people living in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, where the official characters are the traditional Chinese characters, do use them also in handwriting, or if they use the simplified Chinese characters in handwriting.

The traditional Chinese characters seem aesthetically more beautiful, but I think they are harder to write (requiring more attention, and more time to fully write them, I suppose...).

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It's rather a personal choice. Some people follow the "識正書簡" (know the traditional but write the simplified) way -- an interesting example is the former chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, follows this way but her colleagues in the party sharply resist such a "culture-destroying" choice. Anyway, when people in HK or Taiwan write formal things, they just stick to traditional Chinese. –  Stan Mar 15 at 6:02
    
@Stan: Thanks for sharing this information. I'd be happy to upvote that and possibly mark as answer, if you post it as answer instead of a comment. –  Mr.C64 Mar 15 at 11:22
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I leave it in the comment because although I'm living in Hong Kong, I'm not native. What I've seen and heard would be narrowed by my circle. So, as it's a good question, I'd be glad to see someone native in HK or Taiwan to answer it :) –  Stan Mar 15 at 13:38
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4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In Hong Kong, students write traditional Chinese in schools. So, you can imagine that Hong Kongers usually write traditional Chinese in their handwritings. However ...

  • Some people do write simplified Chinese almost exclusively in their handwritings, because they are immigrants from China.
  • Some people do occasionally write simplified Chinese in their handwritings by mistakes, because they are confused by the merging of characters in simplified Chinese. The most notable example is the Chinese word for "excuse" (noun). Many Hong Kongers mistakenly write "借口" without noticing that "借口" is actually simplified Chinese. The correct form in traditional Chinese should be "藉口".
  • For various reasons, some people do occasionally write simplified Chinese in their handwritings on purpose. E.g. in markets stalls, simplified characters are used relatively frequently because they are less cluttered. In the following picture (source: BBC News; see picture 9) of a Hong Kong egg stall, "5元4隻" ($5 per 4 pieces) is written as "5元4只" instead (只 is the simplified character for 隻).enter image description here
  • Some people do occasionally write simplified Chinese in their handwritings on purpose, but these simplified Chinese characters are not exactly those used in China. Hong Kongers had been using their own set of simplified characters for a long time. Some of these characters (e.g. 万 "myriad") are simplified characters from Qing dynasty and they happen to be identical to China's official simplified characters, but the others are different. As in the case of China's simplified characters, a number of HK's own simplified characters are based on cursive or other calligraphic forms of traditional characters. Most of these character forms are not standardised and the ways people write the same character may be different from one another. But a few of these character forms are more common. The one I've seen the most is the character 學 ("learn"). The official simplified character in China is 学 and in the following image is HK's own simplified counterpart. One can easily spot the differences: in the HK version, the three dots on the top of 学 are replaced by three vertical strokes, and there are two horizontal dashes on rightmost vertical stroke.

enter image description here

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Thanks for the great info! The real-life info from locals of some place can be more valuable than pages on books :) –  Mr.C64 Mar 15 at 22:14
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They can understand and will occasionally use simplified Chinese

1、台湾老的文化人都认识简体字。过去,台湾像大陆一样流行简体字。只是在中华人民共和国政府宣布实行简化字方案后,台湾当局才不许公共场合出现简体字,以表示不承认共党政府。但是,老人手写字依然有用简体字。我曾在回答关于“煎体字”问体中附一张照片,是1958年蒋介石写给郝伯村的信,信中就有几十个与我们完全一样的简体字。
2、书法爱好者认识简体字。简体字大量是行书、草书规范化。经常看古人书帖自然会认识简体字。
3、经常与大陆往来的人会认识简体字。要说台湾与大陆往来密切,哪里也比不上厦门。厦门一切公共场合,包括与台湾的经济、学术交流,都是规范字,台商工厂中也如是。看多了自然就认识了。
4、这几年,台湾从大陆购买上百万册简体版图书,说明有很多人认识;原来不认识的,看这些书自然也就认识了。

  1. Taiwan people know Simplified Chinese but in opposition to the Communist Government of Mainland China, they refused to allow Simplified Chinese to be officially used. (This is more for political reasons)
  2. People who study classical Chinese literature will know simplified Chinese because Simplified Chinese evolved from XingShu and CaoShu styles.
  3. People who frequently go between Taiwan and Mainland obviously will know Simplified Chinese.
  4. Importation of Mainland Literature definitely helps others to learn simplified Chinese.
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Good answer. But better be written in English :) –  Stan Mar 16 at 9:02
    
You may want to write in English. I can only understand the (small) English part of your answer. –  Mr.C64 Mar 16 at 10:52
    
Lemme translate: 1) Taiwan people know Simplified Chinese but in opposition to the Communist Government of Mainland China, they refused to allow Simplified Chinese to be officially used. (This is more for political reasons) 2) People who study classical Chinese literature will know simplified Chinese because Simplified Chinese evolved from XingShu and CaoShu styles. 3) People who frequently go between Taiwan and Mainland obviously will know Simplified Chinese. 4) Importation of Mainland Literature definitely helps others to learn simplified Chinese. –  user3992 Mar 19 at 2:10
    
@user3992 Thank you, you may want to consider editing this post. –  Ave Maleficum Mar 19 at 2:14
    
Strange... I couldn't see any part of the quoted text in the URL provided in answer. Is it just me or something else? –  TactMayers Mar 19 at 4:23
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People in Hong Kong and Taiwan use Traditional Chinese officially, both in Handwriting and Documents, not just because it's aesthetically more beautiful, but also because Traditional Chinese retains the personality and original shape of words compared to the simplified version. Taiwan especially uses Traditional Chinese as an opposition to Mainland China's usage of Simplified Chinese.

Personally, having gone through grade school with Simplified Chinese makes you appreciate Traditional Chinese because the simplification of words sometimes makes no sense until you see the original Traditional writings. Eg. 愛 (Traditional) has the word 心 (Heart) in it versus 爱 (Simplified) which removes the heart.

The older generation would be better with Traditional because that's what they learned growing up. The younger generation probably love simpler things so Simplified would be the way to go.

If you are interested in the debate between both : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_on_traditional_and_simplified_Chinese_characters

But to answer your question, yes, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan officially uses Traditional Chinese.

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Traditional Chinese is official Language in Hong Kong and Taiwan. They read, write and print in Traditional Chinese.

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