Wired Chinese and Japanese kids forget how to write

Writing Chinese and Japanese is a particularly difficult skill and since computers came along it is fast becoming something that kids are forgetting.

Sure they can read and write their language on a computer, but according to BreitBart  when they pick up a pen they have forgotten how to do it.

Dubbed “character amnesia”, the problem is becoming widespread across China, and some are starting to fear for the future of their ancient writing system. There is even a Chinese word for it: “tibiwangzi”, or “take pen, forget character”.

The problem has been noted in Japan which has a similar character based language system.

The China Youth Daily in April found that 83 percent of the 2,072 respondents admitted having problems writing characters.

Chinese boffins say that Character amnesia happens because most Chinese people use electronic input systems based on Pinyin, which translates Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet.

The user enters each word using Pinyin, and the device offers a menu of characters. So users must recognise the character, however they don’t need to write it any more.

In Japan mobiles and computers use the simpler Hiragana and Katakana scripts for inputting and so most users forget the Kanji.

Siok Wai Ting, assistant professor of linguistics at Hong Kong University warned that forgetting how to write could eventually affect reading ability. Sadly the only way that Chinese and Japanese can be learnt is by rote, memory and constantly writing the characters.

Siok said that Chinese uses a different part of the brain from reading the Roman alphabet, a part closer to the motor area, which is used for handwriting.

However one should not rush to blame technology for killing off the language. The complexity of the Chinese language has been known about for ages. Mao Zedong once told the US journalist Edgar Snow in 1936 that sooner or later the Chinese will have to abandon characters altogether if we are to create a new social culture in which the masses fully participate.

All he did was simplify many characters into forms now the standard in mainland China. Clearly it was not mainstream enough