The "Tree of Chinese Characters" outside the China Pavilion at Expo 2022 Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Xinhua News Agency
Students at Lianshi Primary School in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province are writing Chinese characters. Photo by Lu Zhipeng/Guangming PicturesEditor's note
"Horizontal and vertical are all strong and strong, and flying is the bloodline." As the symbol of Chinese cultural heritage, Chinese characters have been deeply integrated into our cultural bloodline. However, with the digitization of handwritten script, Chinese character fonts have become more diverse. Some so-called "artistic fonts" vulgarly and hastily exaggerated and deformed Chinese characters to attract people's attention. This not only deviates from the writing norms, cultural connotation and aesthetic taste of Chinese characters, but also forms a bad example for the general public. A few days ago, the State Press and Publication Administration and the State Administration of Radio and Television jointly launched a special rectification of the problem of irregular use of Chinese characters, requiring that mass media such as publications, television, and online audio-visual programs violate the rules of Chinese writing and aesthetic taste, shoddy, clumsy exaggeration, and inappropriate perception. Clean up and replace with good fonts. The "Language and Characters" edition has specially launched a column "Let's Talk About Standardizing Chinese Characters" to promote the standardized use of Chinese characters to become the consensus of the whole people.
In February 2022, 11 associations and societies jointly issued the "Proposal on Standardizing the Use of Chinese Characters", advocating the standardization and aesthetics of Chinese character use as important standards, and playing an exemplary and leading role in promoting the standardization of language and writing and inheriting and promoting excellent traditional culture. This initiative once again brought Chinese character norms to the public eye. The standard of Chinese characters has repeatedly become a "hot spot", which not only shows the society's attention to the standard of Chinese characters, but also reflects from another aspect that the current situation of the standard use of Chinese characters is not optimistic, and the task of standardizing Chinese characters is still arduous. Therefore, it is necessary for us to conduct more extensive and in-depth discussions on this topic, and make the standardized use of Chinese characters a consensus of the whole people.
1. Standardized Chinese characters are the legal general characters of the state
The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Spoken and Written Language of the People's Republic of China promulgated in October 2000 made "standardizing Chinese characters" a legal concept for the first time. The law clearly stipulates that "the standard spoken and written language of the country is Putonghua and standardized Chinese characters", and "the state promotes Putonghua and promotes standardized Chinese characters". In order to implement the provisions on "standardizing Chinese characters" in the Law on Common Language and Writing, the State Council promulgated the "General Standardized Chinese Characters List" in 2013, which is the first time to use the concept of "standardized Chinese characters" to name the national Chinese character standard, and it is also the first time that it is clearly defined at the general level. The scope of "standardized Chinese characters" is defined.
The Interpretation of the "General Standardized Chinese Character List" compiled by the Department of Language and Information Management of the Ministry of Education defines the concept of "standardized Chinese characters" as follows: "'Standardized Chinese characters' refer to systematically organized, published by the state, and commonly used in mainland China. Standard Chinese characters in the general application field of modern society." From this definition, we can see that standard Chinese characters have five attributes: First, standard Chinese characters are issued by the state and are legal general characters of the state, which are authoritative; Second, the standardized Chinese characters have been systematically sorted out, in line with the actual development of the Chinese character system, and are scientific; third, the standardized Chinese characters are oriented to the modern society, determined according to the needs of the modern society, and are of the times; fourth , standardized Chinese characters are for general application fields, and the included characters in special fields are also closely related to people's daily life and are universal; fifth, standardized Chinese characters are only applicable to mainland China at this stage, excluding China Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and other regions that mainly use traditional Chinese characters are regional.
The State Council's Notice on Announcement of the "General Standardized Chinese Character List" clearly states: "The "General Standardized Chinese Character List" is an important Chinese character that implements the "National Standard Language and Character Law of the People's Republic of China" and meets the needs of the application of Chinese characters in various fields of society under the new situation. After the publication of the "General Standardized Chinese Character List", the use of Chinese characters in general social application fields should be based on the "General Standardized Chinese Character Table", and the original related word list shall cease to be used." The "related word list" mentioned here, It mainly includes "The First Batch of Variant Characters Arrangement Table", "General Table of Simplified Chinese Characters", "Character Table of Common Chinese Characters for Printing", "General Character Table of Modern Chinese" and "List of Commonly Used Characters in Modern Chinese". This shows that the "General Standardized Chinese Character List" is the highest-level national Chinese character standard that integrates the previous Chinese character standardization standards. This standard has pushed the standardization of Chinese characters since the founding of New China to a new historical height, and also provided an important basis for the standardization of Chinese characters for a period of time in the future.
2. Standardizing Chinese characters is the fundamental requirement for the function of Chinese characters
The implementation of standardized Chinese characters is not only a national law, but also a fundamental requirement for the functions of Chinese characters themselves.
Chinese characters are tools for recording Chinese, and this function requires a relatively clear correspondence between characters. However, since Chinese characters are written in an ideographic system, their shapes are highly variable, whether in the early stage of pictographic-based writing or later in the stage of complex ideographic writing. For example, the word "隹" in the shape of a bird in oracle bone inscriptions is written in many ways, either complex or simple, and in different shapes; although the inscriptions in bronze are relatively standardized compared to oracle bone inscriptions, there are still different ways of writing "隹" included in the "Bi Jinwenbian". There are more than 100; during the Warring States Period, due to the feudal lords' power and lack of control over the king, the characters of the feudal lords and countries were seriously different in form; even at the stage of clerical script and regular script, the form of the same character was still very different. There are more than 20 variant characters. The polymorphism of Chinese characters seriously disturbs the correspondence between characters, affects the effectiveness of Chinese characters to record Chinese, and greatly increases the burden on people to learn and use Chinese characters, so it must be sorted out and standardized. If the Chinese characters are allowed to develop spontaneously without artificial regulation in time, the complicated and redundant fonts will overwhelm the Chinese character system and cannot effectively perform the function of recording Chinese.
In history, whenever Chinese characters are chaotic to a very serious level, a large-scale movement to standardize characters must be ushered in to adjust the development direction of Chinese characters to the right track. Every time when Chinese characters return to the norm, it is often accompanied by a great cultural prosperity. Therefore, the level of standardization of Chinese characters also reflects the level of social and cultural development to a certain extent. For example, after the chaos of Chinese characters in the Warring States Period, Qin Shihuang had to carry out "writing the same text", otherwise the decrees of the Qin Dynasty could not be issued smoothly throughout the country; Qin Shihuang's burning of books and Confucianism, and the domination of modern scriptures in the Western Han Dynasty, led to the blood of ancient and modern characters. In the Western Han Dynasty, officials began to strictly rectify the rules, stipulating that "officials and people should submit letters, and the characters may be incorrect, and they will be impeached." He strongly advocated "the study of characters" and advocated the use of standardized Chinese characters. These historical facts have strongly proved that standardizing Chinese characters is the fundamental requirement for the function of Chinese characters and the inevitable demand for the healthy development of Chinese characters.
3. Standardizing Chinese characters is an urgent need in the information age
Chinese characters are an important medium for people to transmit and exchange information. This social attribute determines that it must be achieved by users to achieve a common cognition in order to effectively play the role of a communication tool. Only when its shape is highly uniform can the information transmitted and received by users be highly accurate. Therefore, the more the society develops, the higher the requirements for the standardization of Chinese characters. Especially in the information age, computers have become a tool for disseminating information, realizing high speed, long distance and high socialization of information dissemination. The social groups that use Chinese characters to transmit and receive information are getting bigger and bigger, and the distance between users is getting farther and farther, and even the whole world has been integrated into the dissemination network of Chinese characters information. This long-distance and large-scale information dissemination makes the necessity of Chinese character specification more prominent. Only by realizing the high standardization and standardization of Chinese characters can we ensure the speed and credibility of information dissemination.
The development of information technology has also brought about a rapid increase in the amount of social information transmission, and the amount of words used in people's daily life has also increased, and the range of words used has continued to expand. Professional vocabulary that originally belonged to a special field will also quickly enter the life of the people with the popularization and development of science and technology; the words used in place names that were originally very rare will also become known to everyone due to an unexpected event in the place. . The expansion of the use of characters and the introduction of uncommon characters into daily life have exceeded the coverage of the original Chinese character standard and standard, and it is necessary to timely revise and adjust the previous Chinese character standard and standard. Especially those words that are closely related to people's daily life, such as surnames, names, place names, and informatization problems involving household registration, finance, postal services and other industries, if they are not sorted out in time, they will seriously affect people's lives and social management. .
In the past, we paid too much attention to the difficulty of writing. After the popularization of computers, the difficulty of writing is no longer a key issue. As Mr. Qiu Xigui said: "In the not too distant future, with the popularization of computers and copiers and other equipment , the burden of writing characters will definitely be greatly reduced. In the future work on Chinese character arrangement, whether the focus should be on simplification or on the rationalization of character structure, this is probably an issue that needs to be seriously considered.” Today, on this issue The answer to the question is obvious. The main task of organizing Chinese characters today is no longer the reduction of strokes, but how to optimize the Chinese character system and make the shape of Chinese characters more in line with the requirements of standardization, standardization and informatization.
4. Standardizing Chinese characters is an important element of national soft power
A strong country must strengthen its language, and strong language helps a strong country. In the new era of informatization and globalization, national language ability is an important part of national soft power and plays an important role in building a community with a shared future for mankind. Different from countries that use pinyin characters, our country's language ability includes not only the application ability and level of Chinese, but also the application ability and level of Chinese characters. As a special type of writing, Chinese characters not only have a close relationship with Chinese, but also have their own unique rules of development and application. They have made unique contributions to the inheritance and dissemination of Chinese culture and should be an important measure of a country's language ability. index. The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Standard Language and Written of the People's Republic of China not only stipulates the status of Mandarin as the national standard language, but also regulates the status of the standard Chinese characters, which highlights the important role of Chinese characters in the construction of national culture. Therefore, standardizing Chinese characters is not only a concept at the level of language and writing, but also an important element in creating a country's soft power.
The application ability and level of Chinese characters are not only reflected in the speed and efficiency of using Chinese characters to transmit information, but also in the standardization and aesthetic orientation of people's daily writing of Chinese characters. Chinese characters originated from pictures, which naturally have strong aesthetic characteristics, and gradually developed into a unique art of calligraphy. Calligraphy needs to pursue individuality and innovation, but calligraphy must pay attention to the rules and regulations, rather than deliberately seeking novelty, seeking strangeness, or even advocating the so-called "ugly calligraphy", which leads calligraphy astray. As Bao Shichen's "Art Boat Shuangji" said: "As for the madness and softness, and it is a popular book, even if it bears the name of the time, it is difficult to tell the truth." The "ugly book" is far more ugly than Bao Shichen's rebuke. The "vulgar script" of Chinese characters has seriously affected the correct aesthetic concept of Chinese characters and must be rectified and standardized.
If the level of calligraphy is only related to the minority group of calligraphers, then the level of writing Chinese characters is a major issue related to the quality of the people, which must be paid great attention to. The ideal writing of Chinese characters should be a high degree of unity of normativeness and aesthetics. In order to achieve this goal, it is necessary to strengthen the Chinese character writing education of the people, especially the Chinese character writing education of the students at the basic education stage. Let young people experience the beauty of Chinese characters in the process of writing and establish a sense of norms, which is not only a basic Chinese core literacy education, but also an important aesthetic culture education and cultural self-confidence education. As long as it perseveres, the national writing ability and level will be improved in an all-round way, and the cultural landscape of the whole society will also undergo significant changes.
(The author is a professor at the Research Center for Folklore Classics and Chinese Characters and the Research Center for Chinese Characters Arrangement and Standardization, Beijing Normal University)