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Historical Chinese characters – an endangered script?

by Laura Welcher on May 5th, 02009

Chinese script

Can a logographic script of a major world language survive its own government bureaucracy?  As reported in the NY Times:

“Seeking to modernize its vast database on China’s 1.3 billion citizens, the government’s Public Security Bureau has been replacing the handwritten identity card that every Chinese must carry with a computer-readable one, complete with color photos and embedded microchips.  The bureau’s computers, however, are programmed to read only 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters, according to a 2006 government report. The result is that at least some of the 60 million other Chinese with obscure characters in their names cannot get new cards — unless they change their names to something more common.”