Since "繁" means "complicated"; “繁体字” seems to have a slightly negative implication. Would "正体字" be a better translation for "traditional Chinese"?

  • 4
    I'm not sure what the two downvotes were about, it's a totally valid question & a good one at that; people with the right motives could easily call traditional Chinese something negative if they wanted to.
    – Mou某
    Jun 24, 2019 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


繁 in 繁体字 is in contrast to 简 in 简体字

繁 = complex; 简 = simple

For Mainland Chinese who use simplified Chinese (简体字) , the traditional Chinese would naturally be called 繁体字 by them. It is not a derogatory term

正 in 正體字 short for 正統 "traditional standard". It is in contrast to 簡 in 簡體字

正 = standard; 簡 = simplified

For Taiwan Chinese who use traditional Chinese, 簡體字 would naturally be treated as simplified version of their standard Chinese (正體字)

Both 繁体字 (China prefer) and 正體字 (Taiwan prefer) are correct translation of "traditional Chinese". In the case of Hong Kong Chinese, both terms are equally common


To start off, whether or not「繁體字」is a 貶義詞 is not relevant if a language decides to make it official vocabulary. Non-PRC-standard forms of characters official in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Korea are called「繁體字」in PRC, Hong Kong, and Macau.

The「繁」in「繁體字」merely serves as a complement to the PRC-standard「簡」in「簡化規範字」.

Using「正體字」in place of「繁體字」is not recommended.「正體字」is the ROC (Taiwan) practical equivalent of PRC's「規範字」, and specifically refers to the standard promulgated by the administration. Every administration (ROC (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, PRC) has different standards.

  • As an example,「衞」is standard in Hong Kong but「衛」is standard in ROC (Taiwan). Both are「繁體字」in contrast with PRC’s「卫」, but Hong Kong’s「衞」is not a「正體字」as per the ROC standard, which would instead class it as a「異體字」.

Note that「繁體字」is not officially a recognised concept in ROC (Taiwan) Chinese, which only has「正體字」and「異體字」.

I'd say that there is no real equivalent of「繁體字」. The closest concept is「正字」, but that overwhelmingly refers to the orthodox forms found in the Kangxi Dictionary, which records many vulgar (俗) variants even more complex than orthodox forms.


I am from mainland China. I think the name 繁体字 (Complicated Chinese) is a little derogatory, for there is not such a term before. The Simplified Chinese characters was created first, and then original characters was called Complicated Chinese characters. Since our ancestors used them for thousands of years, the govenment didn't simplified them even if there is not any printing technology at the ealier time. Though the printing technology was invented later, but it is still backward compared to these days. The traditional characters had remained unchanged for thousands of years. However, in the last few decades, they are simplified for learning easily while the characters that the ancients used for thousands of years was called the Complicated Chinese characters, of course I don't think the name is such neutral. You know that in fact also there is not such a term in English, instead it is called Traditional Chinese. The Taiwan side also complains the term 繁体字, they wants to “rectify” the name to 正体字 (Formal/Orthodox Chinese). The new term had been accepted by some websites of Traditional Chinese characters.

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