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Why did the Chinese never adopt word spacing?

Why did the Chinese never adopt word spacing?


Believe it or not, youcanactuallyreadEnglishsentenceswithoutspacesaswell. Ittakessomepractice, butyoushouldbeabletoreadthesesentenceswithoutmuchfussatall.

Spaces are not strictly necessary even for alphabet-based languages – for logographic characters that has their own meanings (instead of just representing sounds like alphabets), it’s definitely not needed.

Native Chinese speakers definitely don’t have issues reading without spaces. If spaces were introduced, it probably would actually slow down the reading somewhat – since there is a likelihood of spaces being added at unexpected places, “lik ethi sway”, since we don’t have established conventions on where spaces should be added.

The only situation where one can argue that having spaces is helpful is for foreign learners coming from a language that uses spaces, like English.

Sorry to be blunt here – languages simply don’t evolve around the needs of language learners in any language. English will still retain its irregular verbs and other issues, no matter how loudly English learners complain.

So – if you want to learn Chinese – better get used to reading them the way native Chinese do. But if you have the magical power to change the minds of 1.5 billion Chinese people to see things your way and convert all existing texts to use spaces – by all means go for it.


Below is a practice text for those who want to try reading English without spaces. It’s a repeat of the above.


Believeitornot, youcanactuallyreadEnglishsentenceswithoutspacesaswell. Ittakessomepractice, butyoushouldbeabletoreadthesesentenceswithoutmuchfussatall.

Spacesarenotstrictlynecessaryevenforalphabet-basedlanguages – forlogographiccharactersthathavetheirownmeanings (insteadofjustrepresentingsoundslikealphabets), it’sdefinitelynotneeded.

NativeChinesespeakersdefinitelydon’thaveissuesreadingwithoutspaces. Ifspaceswereintroduced, itprobablywouldactuallyslowdownthereadingsomewhat – sincethereisalikelihoodofspacesbeingaddedatunexpectedplaces, “lik ethi sway”, sincewedon’thaveestablishedconventionsonwherespacesshouldbeadded.

Theonlysituationwhereonecanarguethathavingspacesishelpfulisforforeignlearnerscomingfromalanguagethatusesspaces, likeEnglish.

Sorrytobeblunthere – languagessimplydon’tevolvearoundtheneedsoflanguagelearnersinanylanguage. Englishwillstillretainitsirregularverbsandotherissues, nomatterhowloudlynon-nativespeakerscomplain.

So – ifyouwanttolearnChinese – bettergetusedtoreadingthemthewaynativeChinesedo. Butifyouhavethemagicalpowertochangethemindsof1.5billionChinesepeopletoseethingsyourwayandconvertallexistingtextstousespaces – byallmeansgoforit.

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