Ask MSL Master - I used some characters that are not included in the list of 320 Chinese characters. Do I need to change them?

Written by April Zhang on Monday, 04 July 2022. Posted in Chinese Writing Contest

Ask MSL Master - I used some characters that are not included in the list of 320 Chinese characters. Do I need to change them?

This question has been asked a few times. One of them was particularly elaborate on why the limitation of Chinese characters made no sense.

When reading this particular email, I was really touched, as I knew this email was from someone who really loved the Chinese language and really enjoyed writing in Chinese.

This email is paraphrased as below:

Hello teacher April, 

I have a small question. I used some characters that are not included in the list of 320 Chinese characters. Do I need to change them?

To be honest, I don't understand why there is a restriction on characters. I think competitions are meant to test our cognition, vocabulary, and sentence making.

Chinese language is so extensive and profound, and each character has different meanings. Some characters are more appropriate in certain places than others. 

If the words available to the contestants are limited, the contestants may not be able to fully express themselves. That defeats the purpose of the competitions. 

My composition is completed, but there are a lot of characters that are not included in the list of required characters. I hope it can be approved.

Thank you.



— My Reply —


Hello Yi,

Thank you for writing. 

I very much agree with you that the Chinese language is extensive and profound. The expressiveness of the Chinese language is extremely rich. This is definitely one key characteristic of the Chinese language. 

Another characteristic is that the Chinese language can create a universe even under the most stringent restrictions. For example Chinese poetry, especially those written according to specific rules of characters and tones. This is something perhaps no other languages can do. 

People who are good at writing should be able to write both ways. They can write well when there are no restrictions on characters and they can write equally well when there are restrictions.

I hope you’ll be able to make these simple Chinese characters formidable and powerful. That will fully testify the profoundness of the Chinese language.

Also, for this Chinese Writing Contest, I hope Chinese characters are tools to be used, not barriers that prevent people from entering. This is the reason that a strict character requirement is in place and only a small number of Chinese characters is allowed. 

Therefore, I would like you to re-write your composition, change those Chinese characters that are not included in the list, make sure both the title and the content meet the character requirement, and submit it before the deadline. 

Thank you very much and I wish you all the best.

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About the Author

April Zhang

April Zhang

April Zhang is the founder of MSL Master and she enjoys teaching and interacting with students. She constantly explores new and interesting ways of teaching Chinese through creative and imaginative activities.

With her help, many students have achieved outstanding result, which has enriched their understanding about China and has significantly contributed to their work.



April Zhang
Chinese Teacher
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