If Only It Were That Simple…
People will tell you many things about the way HK has changed since the handover. I’m not really an expert on the subject because I wasn’t living here (but came a few times pre-97 for extended holidays visiting friends) but HK definitely has a more Chinese – as in Mainland – feel to it. The reasons are many but one of the issues that crops up every so often is the use of Simplified Chinese in local shops signs/menus/adverts etc.
Now, not being literate in Chinese means much of this goes over my head – most of the time. However, I was walking through Shatin (oops, sorry I mean Xia Tian) the other day and spotted something I thought would raise the ire of many a HKer, but perhaps this one has slipped under the radar?
Of course perhaps my Chinese isn’t as good as I though it was, so please feel free to bombard me with comments telling me how much of a dunce I am.
Here are the (Traditional) Chinese characters for Sha Tin Park: 沙田公園
and here is a street sign that says the same.
But when you look at the nicely-shaped shrubbery, styled into the same Chinese name for the park, you may notice something different. Here they are (reading r-l this time).
That’s right. The character for park (on the left) is the simplified version. Whereas the street sign uses the traditional form of 園, the bushes have been shaped into 园. It’s the same word of course but is a standard Chinese written form (i.e. simplified).
Okay, I realise that there are probably some technical and practical difficulties involved in shaping a legible 園 instead of a 园, but given the amount of anti-Mainland feeling there is at the moment, I’m surprised no one has gone down there, doused the offending character with petrol and set fire to it.
I suspect this was done for practical reasons but the fact that Shatin is currently one of the biggest destinations for cross-border shoppers at the moment makes it all the more curious.