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In which sequence should I learn Chinese. What are simplified characters and important traditional characters which should I learn first and why those are necessary to learn first?

  • Wikipedia is your Good friend – 炸鱼薯条德里克 Oct 11 '18 at 14:48
  • A little context is needed here. What are you goals? To listen and speak fluently? To read fluently? All three? Where are you at already? Anyone could give you an opinionated response, but who would that be helpful for without any sort of direction? – user3306356 Oct 11 '18 at 14:51
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    Also guys @RashkRizwan is new here. Let's hold off on the down votes for the time being, if we can. – user3306356 Oct 11 '18 at 14:58
  • iam a beginer so thats why i ask all this and thanks for suggestio – RashkRizwan Oct 11 '18 at 15:21
  • @RashkRizwan Are you moving to a place where Chinese is the official language, or you're simply looking to learn a new language? – Alex Oct 11 '18 at 21:50
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only if, you're interested in history, culture; or, you need to read materials dated before 1949; learn traditional chinese.

otherwise, learn simplified chinese first. particularly for anyone who learn "chinese" for bread-and-butter.

it's "easier" to read & write; for foreigners; compare to traditional chinese.

to be fair, well, there's a chinese proverb "物以罕為貴"; it's roughly "when a thing is scarce, it is precious".

have fun :)

  • Simplified characters are already hard enough for foreigners to learn. IMO the government should even try another round of simplification. – Enrico Brasil Oct 16 '18 at 13:20
  • @enrico brasil: omg, you've such shattering ideas :) – 水巷孑蠻 Oct 16 '18 at 13:44
  • @EnricoBrasil They did, and the round failed. See Second round of Simplified Chinese Characters. Nobody likes randomly changing characters, and Simplification was a terrible idea in the first place. – droooze Oct 16 '18 at 22:12
  • It's not, if the government do intend to make the language an international one. Chinese is very unfriendly to foreigners. – Enrico Brasil Oct 17 '18 at 1:27
  • "chinese is very unfriendly to foreigners" you know it only at this moment? poor soul. well, the language, confucius are very "in-groups". "outsiders" always have difficulty to "break in". – 水巷孑蠻 Oct 17 '18 at 1:56
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I must say, the attitude towards learning Chinese is correct when you asked

Which should I learn first?

because you need to know both to be fully literate in Chinese. I'm also going to disagree with the other answer which suggests Traditional Chinese has a niche application and that Simplified Chinese is easier to read.


The most important factor is your environment!

  • If you're going to be moving to a Chinese-speaking area: Simplified Chinese has minimal usage in environments like Hong Kong and Macau and is practically not used at all in Taiwan and most established overseas Chinese communities. The areas that it is concentrated in are (1) Mainland China and (2) certain cities in Malaysia. Maybe you can add Singapore to that list, but their Chinese ability is mediocre at best, so English remains the most useful there.

  • If you're just studying as a foreign learner in your current location: Consider picking up the version which you would get most help from. If your friends or teachers surrounding you are mostly accustomed to Traditional Chinese, then you should go for Traditional Chinese. Ditto for Simplified.

  • If you're immersing yourself in Simplified Chinese materials, then pick Simplified Chinese. Ditto for Traditional Chinese, but the former is more likely - especially if you're planning to study in Mainland China or work as a translator.

It takes minimal effort to switch.

If you are fluent in one script, it takes very little time to switch to the other. Prioritise being fluent in one, rather than worrying about what you should choose first.

If somehow all other factors are equal, pick Traditional Chinese.

  • Simplified Chinese is not easier to learn than Traditional Chinese. See stats by IndexMundi*. Mainland China, the only fully Chinese region using Simplified Chinese, forms the lower bound of the literacy rate trends of the Chinese-using regions, indicating that script reform had minimal impact and economic development was the deciding factor by far.

  • Simplified Chinese instils a relatively poorer understanding of how the writing system and character components work. This is due to its overuse of writing abbreviations in its goal of cutting down strokes, meaning you'll be learning many components twice (an abbreviated version and a non-abbreviated version). Prepare for much more rote memorisation instead of exploiting reusable concepts if you choose Simplified Chinese.

  • In the wider cultural region of East Asia, Traditional Chinese is more useful. Historical China has influenced many countries in East Asia, including their vocabulary and writing systems. These influences were in the form of the Traditional Script, meaning you're killing multiple birds with one stone.


*Ultimately sourced from the CIA world factbook.

  • If you're from Pakistan, as your profile suggests, and you're learning Chinese as a tool to do dealings with China, then I suggest you learn Simplified Chinese. – droooze Oct 12 '18 at 15:35
  • i like the word "niche", particularly. then, the points in "all other factors are equal" are strong. well done :) – 水巷孑蠻 Oct 13 '18 at 1:29
  • I'd say classical Chinese (wenyanwen) is much more useful for understanding other languages and cultures, but is an overkill for beginners. Traditional characters alone really doesn't add that much, as the only other language currently using Chinese characters, Japanese, has their own set of simplification. – user23013 Oct 13 '18 at 13:15
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    @user23013 It is not an opinion, you can empirically verify how much cultural artifacts you can appreciate more, how much Korean Hanja, how much Vietnamese Chu Nom you can learn easier with 繁體 as a new learner with no background in Chinese. This has nothing to do with 文言 at all; at most they use vocabulary items, not grammar, from Classical Chinese which you still get from learning Modern Chinese. The only thing that is an opinion is your poorly reasoned statement that my answer is an opinion. 簡體 is an objectively worse choice if you’re not specifically dealing with Mainland China. – droooze Oct 14 '18 at 1:43
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    @EnricoBrasil If you think Simplified Chinese is easier than Traditional Chinese, then I’m sorry to say, you don’t understand character structure very well, and you are teaching or learning them the wrong way. They are not “random”, and if you think they are, that’s your own problematic understanding that contributes to the difficulty. Literacy rate statistics cannot be “wrong” either - the notion doesn’t make any sense. – droooze Oct 16 '18 at 20:23

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