Traveling Between Languages

by CHEN LI

For the past few decades, the Chinese language used by the people in Taiwan has been in many ways different from that used by the people in mainland China. The differences lie not only in expressions, accents, pronunciations, and characters but also in linguistic “temperament.” In my opinion, the Chinese language used in Taiwan has some sort of vitality different from that used in mainland China. For one thing, whereas mainland China tried to wipe out its traditions, started the Great Cultural Revolution, and implemented a simplified form of Chinese characters, Taiwan, under the rule of the Kuomintang after WWII, advocated the “Movement of Reviving Chinese Culture,” continued to use the traditional complex form of characters, and put Chinese classical literature and history on the examination list. The result of the different policies is that people or writers in Taiwan are likely to have a more profound understanding and a subtler perception of “the beauty of Chinese” than people or writers in mainland China. Also, being an island, Taiwan enjoys more liberal and freer living environments, which enables people to assimilate diverse elements to form a more flexible, energetic, hybridized, and colorful language.

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