Feeds

Chinese media culls undesirable characters

Down to a mere 900 pictographs

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Foreign students of Chinese will be relieved to learn that an understanding of most of the content of the country's media will require a working knowledge of just 900 characters out of the roughly 50,000 individual pictographs available, Reuters reports.

Specifically, a grasp of said 900 pictographs will allow access to 90 per cent of content, as Chinese media continues a process of linguistic simplification, according to an education ministry survey which examined "900m characters used in more than 8.9m files chosen from newspapers, magazines, the internet and television", according to Xinhua news agency.

The average Chinese uni graduate can apparently command around 6,000 pictographs, wisely bypassing those which are "archaic and...found only once in the whole history of the written language, often describing the names of people, places or mythical beasts".

Although Reuters notes that many traditional, aka "complex", characters are still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and in Chinese expat communities abroad, linguistic homogenisation, and with it simplification, are gradually consigning these to history as mainland Chinese influence grows.

The culling of characters began in China in 1940, as a way of tackling the estimated 80 per cent illiteracy rate, Reuters says. According to zhongwen.com, peasant literacy was quantified in 1952 as a command of 1,500 characters. Workers, on the other hand, were expected to handle 2,000. It appears, then, that the Chinese have had some considerable success in sorting the vital wheat from the superfluous chaff.

For those interested in just how the Chinese came to have such an impressively complicated written language, zhongwen.com has some fairly terrifying etymological trees showing how individual characters are combined to create dense levels of meaning. Make yourselves a strong cup of green tea before venturing in. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.