Looks like the Great Firewall or something like it is preventing you from completely loading www.skritter.com because it is hosted on Google App Engine, which is periodically blocked. Try instead our mirror:


This might also be caused by an internet filter, such as SafeEyes. If you have such a filter installed, try adding appspot.com to the list of allowed domains.

Learning traditional Chinese characters - reading only

JieWen   February 16th, 2011 4:40p.m.

Like most users on Skritter, my goal is to become literate in Chinese. After spending some time in mainland China, I realized that to fully reach this goal I would have to be able to do what most mainland Chinese people do. That is read and write simplified Chinese, but also be able to read (only) traditional characters. It is enough for them to be able to recognize the traditional characters without actually knowing all of the strokes in detail.

I wanted to know if there was a simple way to study the definition only of traditional characters, while simultaneously studying all of the standard things (writing, tone, definition) for simplified characters. From what I can see, this is not possible.

I guess one way would be to go into the settings and start studying simplified and traditional, and then simply study definition prompts only for a while - but then when you want to continue learning new character writings in simplified Skritter will also prompt you to write the traditional characters you have learned, which is undesirable.

Anyone else agree with me that being able to read traditional Chinese is a useful skill even in mainland China? I can't count the number of times I've said "yeah let me try to read th...ahh it's traditional :("

joshwhitson13   February 16th, 2011 5:26p.m.

Reading traditional Chinese is definitely a useful skill in mainland China! However, in my opinion, you will only learn to read faster if you are also learning how to write. Your brain will make a lot more connections if you are doing both. And honestly, it's not that hard as most of the time there is just a different radical.

jww1066   February 16th, 2011 5:35p.m.

This is a feature which has been requested a couple of times... I don't remember what the status of the request is.

nick   February 16th, 2011 8:50p.m.

We've decided that having different parts added per style is too complicated. I think we're undecided on putting the alternate style in the prompt for some passive recognition; we'll have to get some time to try and design it in there.

What you could do, WoodenFrogs, is to study a list of character definitions with your style set to "Both", then when you were done, go to "Simplified and previously added traditional". Then you'd have everything simplified and that list of character definitions in traditional. But you would have to do only character definitions for a while.

podster   February 16th, 2011 10:27p.m.

Hmmm, this is a very interesting question. If it is a commonly desired skill on the mainland, I wonder if there are some books on learning to read traditional for users of simplified. Perhaps someone has mapped out a supposedly optimal approach. I've noticed that many (but by no means all) of the "simplifications" follow some simple pattern or map over in some logical way.

WoodenFrogs, had you thought of porting your Skritter vocabulary over to Anki or Pleco for doing just "passive recognition?" Sorry I can't tell you the mechanics of how it might be done, but there is probably some way. A question for you: how do most mainland readers happen to learn the traditional characters? Are they formally taught as children?

glacchia   February 17th, 2011 3:18a.m.

Hi Nick!

I am interested in the procedure that you described but could not find this functions.

Where can I set the character style (Simp vs Trad) and where is the option "Simplified and previously added traditional"?

Thank you!

ocastling   February 17th, 2011 9:29a.m.

@podster - I had the same question as you, how do Chinese mainlanders learn to read traditional characters?

I asked my girlfriend (Chinese native from 东北) and she told me that she never formally learnt traditional characters. She can read most things written traditional characters but would get stuck trying to read books or documents that were too complicated.

I asked how she thinks she is able to do this and she guesses that it's due to exposure to the characters from Calligraphy classes, reading old books and then there is the fact that a lot of the characters can be guessed at with context and recognising the different radicals.

But this is one person and hardly representative of mainlanders in general!


west316   February 17th, 2011 11:49a.m.

I think learning traditional characters on the mainland isn't that useful, but it becomes much more important when you leave mainland China.

As for learning them, I use Anki. If you have a decent grasp of simplified characters, then five minutes a day is enough. Over the course of several months, I have developed a decent grasp of them. Also, I recommend scouring the decks that are already available. I found one that was good enough for my purposes. I didn't even need to make it.

Tortue   February 17th, 2011 6:05p.m.

@Ocastling : I've never learnt any simplified characters and yet I don't have much problem reading them, everyone here (Taipei) is in the same situation. I think that what you said is right, definitely a mix of "Looks like", "Obvious" & "Guess", A bt lk if I wrt lk ths, lttrs are mssing bt stll undrstndbl.

nick   February 17th, 2011 8:20p.m.

This is your main language style setting in your "study settings" in your account page.

traditional   February 26th, 2011 1:03a.m.

In my opinion it would be useful if, when learning the traditional character, the simplified form (if any) would be displayed next to the character (top left/right, in the space between the character and loudspeaker, star, loupe) without having to press the loupe to check the details. And viceversa, the traditional form could appear when learning the simplified.

Would it be a difficult option to implement?


qiaodan   May 27th, 2011 1:40p.m.

@podster - I had the same question as you, how do Chinese mainlanders learn to read traditional characters?

My girlfriend knows how to read traditional because of many movies have traditional 字幕 especially using http://www.pps.tv/en/video.html ;)

And I think read traditional is very importance because a day I would like to be able to read Doraemon in traditional Chinese;)

This forum is now read only. Please go to Skritter Discourse Forum instead to start a new conversation!