Script as method

Laikwan Pang, Chun Kit Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This essay argues that the two main types of contemporary Chinese scripts, complicated characters (fantizi 繁體字) and simplified characters (jiantizi 簡體字), are sites of heavy cultural and political contestation. The two script systems witness the internal bifurcation of the Chinese written language, which should not be considered as unified vis-à-vis the diversification of the verbal languages. Supported with many concrete examples, the essay demonstrates the different kinds of political struggles involved in the publication of the same materials in the two different scripts. These cases also illustrate the heavy censorship involved in contemporary PRC literature, and the authors are particularly interested in demonstrating the meanings of the option of fantizi publication toward many PRC writers. The two scripts could not be understood as simple variations of the same set of language, but the shifts between them involve actual translations, which in turn would help us gain new insights on the idea of world literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-455
Number of pages24
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • Border
  • Censorship
  • Script
  • Translation
  • World literature


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