Most Chinese are forgetting how to write

I posted in May that many Chinese are forgetting how to write Chinese characters.

Well, the phenomenon is affecting most Chinese!

A poll commissioned by China Youth Daily newspaper in April found that 83% of the 2,072 respondents admitted having problems writing characters. Another survey by Dayang Net, a popular Guangzhou-based news portal, found that 80% of respondents acknowledged they have forgotten how to write some characters.

Many simply do not have to. The Dayang poll found that 43% of respondents use a computer all the time for their jobs, and another 43% write out characters only for signatures and for filling out a few lines on forms.

There’s even a new phrase — 提笔忘字 — to describe the phenomenon of forgetting how to write characters. Google turns up nearly 300,000 pages containing the phrase.

Of course, even though we English speakers have it ridiculously easy — just 26 letters — young people today can’t spell. They seem to think, “Why type ‘great’ (five characters) when I can just type ‘gr8’?” They’re not merely trying to condense longer messages into Tweets. They’re lazy and ignorant because they somehow manage to get “its” and “it’s” wrong more often than they would by flipping a coin. Kids are online reading one another’s bastardized English Facebook pages and aren’t reading anything more sophisticated than CliffsNotes, so of course they can’t spell.

Posted by James on Monday, August 16, 2010