Traditional vs. simplified characters. Mandarin vs. Cantonese dialects. How do you tell one from the other?
The Language Log has a good post on the widely believed myth that forms of Chinese that are mutually incomprehensible in their spoken forms are identical in writing.
To examine this issue, the post looks at linguistic issues between Cantonese and Mandarin. It's conclusion?
Like many myths, the myth that the many forms of Chinese are identical in writing is false but has a kernel of truth. That kernel of truth is that someone who can read one form of Chinese has a fairly easy time learning to read another.Check out the comments as well. There are interesting comments regarding differences between Chinese and Japanese, Chinese neologisms, and a reference to the book Cantonese As Written Language: The Growth of a Written Chinese Vernacular.
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