In particular, there should be many examples of 形声字 ("phono-semantic compound characters") which were "damaged" by simplification. I am interested especially in characters where a 声旁 ("phonetic") or 形旁 ("signific") was partially removed in such a way as to provide misinformation.

To illustrate,

  • 盤 was simplified to 盘, leaving a pointless 舟 at the top instead of a 声旁/phonetic.
  • More obscurely 勝 (etymologically 朕+力) was simplified to 胜, leaving a pointless 月 instead of the semantically helpful 力.

Does anyone know of more examples like these?

(Note: this is not intended as an anti-简体字 post!)

  • I like this question, but it is too broad. You can list almost any simplified character and point out the negative effect of taking out some essential element. Please narrow the question down.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 29, 2016 at 19:11
  • I edited it to make it explicitly about 形声字 (as this was my intent). I think there will be many correct examples, but not just anything works. For instance, 遠 --》 远 and 彈 --》弹 are not correct answers, because in these cases, useful elements were replaced with useful elements, preserving the 形声 structure.
    – Colin
    Oct 29, 2016 at 20:40
  • Even after the editing, the question is still too broad, a user could list a hundred characters and another user could list another hundred. The main problem is, you already know enough to list a few examples, which means the goal of this post is to seek confirmation from other users. Your examples already illustrated your point- "simplification damages characters" and I agree.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 29, 2016 at 20:52
  • I narrowed it a bit more. The point of of the question is not to seek confirmation that some characters were damaged by simplification (as I agree with you that is obvious), but to isolate a good number of examples of this happening. If you think there are hundreds of examples, great! It should then be easy to provide a list of 15 good ones and I can accept that answer.
    – Colin
    Oct 29, 2016 at 21:00
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    My position on simplified characters vs. traditional characters is - It is the current standard, people have to accept and use it in daily life unless the system is changed; However, Chinese people should also learn the traditional characters as a useful language skill.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 29, 2016 at 21:01

3 Answers 3


for 形聲字, the simplification made severe, unrepairable damages to the chinese culture.

for example, the character 難(u+96e3); it's composed by the 172th radical 隹(u+96b9); and the component 𦰩(u+26c29), that's a phonetic component, which was shared by numerous characters.

the 說文解字 stated: 難 鳥也﹒從鳥﹒堇聲

while 堇(u+5807) is a character since oracle script, enter image description here; later, it's derived to 堇(u+5807)

& 𦰩(u+26c29)enter image description here

back to the phonetic component 堇. in cantonese, 堇 is pronounced as gan2 sound file, which has the 韻母 (final) "an".

so, characters share this phonetic component 堇, guess how they pronounce?

難(u+96e3) naan4 sound file

嘆(u+5606) taan3 sound file

艱(u+8271) gaan1 sound file

after thousands of years, the 韻母 (final) of these characters are changed slightly from "an" to "aan", isn't marvellous?

therefore, the simplified script of 难, 叹 & 艰 lose the phonetic component 堇; that no-one in modern time, or generations in the future would associate the correct pronunciation from the component of the simplified character.

c'est patrimoine culturel perdu ☠

lastly, i think that this question is excellent; i worried about the temporary "hold on" status of it. may i ask the rationale of this decision?

  • Thank you--the rationale for the hold was "too many possible answers". I thought it was an understandable objection, but nevertheless, I was interested in what the answers would be!
    – Colin
    Oct 30, 2016 at 19:30
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    too many? someone is kidding :) i need to "think" hardly, in order to get a few examples. anyway, do you get what you want in my answer? Oct 30, 2016 at 19:33
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    using 又 as reminder? die hard lah :) 歡--> 欢, 觀--> 观; the phonetic component 雚 (final "oon") is also replaced by 又. Oct 30, 2016 at 20:01
  • 1
    Yeah 又 is definitely doing too much work...From @user-487 we also have 鄧 --> 邓 and 雞 --> 鸡
    – Colin
    Oct 30, 2016 at 20:13
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    I did vote for this question to be closed and then voted to reopen it after the question was clarified. Simplification damage characters is a fact. Phonetic element removal is one of the ways simplification ruins characters.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:43

The simplification introduced some inconsistency.

The official simplified form of 盧 is 卢, so is easy to reason that 壚瀘櫨轤臚艫鱸鸕顱 should be simplified to 垆泸栌轳胪舻鲈鸬颅 respectively. But at the same time, 蘆廬驢爐 are simplified to 芦庐驴炉 respectively.

Once I wanted to type the word 芦苇(reed). I use wubi input method, which is based on the structure of characters rather than their pronunciation, so I need to break down the charecter I want to input into components. I thought 芦 should be written as enter image description here, so I broke it into 艹、卜、尸. Of course, I didn't get the expected character with these components. I got rather confused. Finally I had to resort to pinyin input method and found that it is 芦 instead of enter image description here.


For your information, Chinese glyph has another form, call Cursive. Which become fundamental of so "simplified Chinese".

So the simplification is not born from nowhere (as in Chinese proverb , pop up from the stone), it has it own historical and literature traits.

Most of the old cursive can refer to 《标准草书》

Nevertheless, the cursive glyph are wrote with added creativity, it is not easy even with the simplified word reference book.

Nevertheless , the whole writing things is heavily politicalised. Since pin-ying and handwriting recognition become norm, the original mandarin might re-emerge back to mainland China mainstream usage.

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