The state broadcaster launched a Chinese Character Dictation Competition to try and improve the population’s handwriting as they fear it is going into decline.
They discovered that fewer than half the audience could write common Mandarin words such as “thick” and 70% didn’t know how to write the word for toad.
Mandarin has about 50,000 pictograms which children learn by rote. Now predictive texting on digital devices means that you only have to enter the words in pinyin, the Romanised system of Chinese pronunciation, for the device to write the character you want.
Keyboards are having a major impact on the writing of Chinese characters and it’s an irreversible trend. It doesn’t help that the learning of Chinese characters is a life-long trend and if you don’t use them regularly you forget.