I know that much of "pro" or "anti" is also an emotional reaction***
I doubt any possibility of me being influenced by any generational radical prejudice towards Simplified Chinese (henceforth SC). I am a Malaysian, educated from primary with SC; I am too poor to be influence by books published by renowned scholars – I form my stand purely through my own analysis, which also explains why it is so unorthodox it might be irrelevant.
Basically I agree with the four mentioned advantages of SC. Just some elaboration/counter:
2) preserving quite a large number of characters (= the set where traditional and simplified are identical)
They preserved the wrong ones* and ignorantly simplified others**. I don’t completely disagree with the whole set of simplifications though, like some clichéd ones 泪网 and also 韤(袜), 畵(画).
*舞, 跳 (And other phonosemantics) They should have took Oracle Bone forms into consideration since many of the Oracle Bones are simpler and self-explanatory. For those new phonosemantics created during Seal, i.e. late-emerging characters, they should at least try to represent its meaning semantically for ease of comprehension for later generations or foreign Chinese-enthusiasts.
** 壽, 髪發, 里裏, 晝畵. I agree that simplification is necessary, especially for the mentioned, but:
壽: The simplification should at least incorporate a 耂. (Its Oracle Bone version had one.)
髪發: Completely unrelated.
里裏: 里 means paddy field and earthiness – village. Since villages are considered as to being relatively concealed as compared to cities, and many of the 衣-radical words are related to inside (裹衷)(哀 – 衣 phonetic) The 裏 should be appropriately simplified in accordance to the fact that 衣 is more important than 里.
畵晝: I never did understand, or was satisfied with the explanations of 畵 and 晝. I agree with the 日in 昼, but perhaps 尺 could be improvised.
3) they make the writing of many characters easier, because of "standard simplification", like for 馬, 鳥, 言, 金, etc (even with slight exceptions, like 馬, 鳥, etc anywhere, whereas 言, 金, etc only when they are on the left side)
I don’t quite agree with this – explain later.
4) (occasionally) slight improvement of the phonetic (i.e. one which better reflects the pronunciation, while also reducing the number of strokes)
The phonetics were revised in consideration of Mandarin only. Classic examples are 艦(舰), 膽擔(胆担), 進(进), 栖(棲). This is a hokkien forum; you would know how inaccurate the phonetics have become.
either one drills a character 500 times to learn it, in which case drilling traditional characters takes much longer than drilling simplified characters; or one spends 500 hours drilling characters, in which case one can drill simplified characters many more times (= learn them better) than one can drill traditional characters.
That is the myth that even boggles the minds of Chinese. Although far from a hundred percent, most of the Hanji derive from sensible reasoning, in which case blind drilling is not necessary. The only difficulty in Traditional is its speed in handwriting – understanding-wise, its meaning is more obvious, with just a little research one can understand a lot. (Trust me, I as an amateur can do it, why can’t the world?)
Other people object that some "good" phonetics were lost. My take on that is that a) in the traditional system, many phonetics sucked anyway*, so the simplified phonetics - where they are different from the traditional - are not that much worse than the original situation, b) quite a lot of bad phonetics were improved by changing them to better ones with fewer strokes. As the overriding requirement was to have fewer strokes, I think the resultant situation is quite acceptable.
People often degrade many phonetics as to being purely a sound-tag. In fact, the phonetics string together words of similar meaning, ultimately because some of them were, some point in history, the same word.
曼: 慢 嫚 蔓 漫 謾 (鰻 幔 槾 鏝)
The radical-added characters stem from the original 曼, which itself was a person wearing a hat. Somehow, the meaning extended to, to walk leisurely. From that, we have arrogance, and spreading (of plants and water). Of course, the examples in the bracket are exceptions, since only the sound was borrowed to mean miscellaneous nouns. Thus obviously, I don’t suggest that all members of a phonetic-family are related in meaning. As pointed out earlier, TC itself is not perfect.
When PRC first introduced the characters, it was not to new-learners of the Chinese language, it was to middle-aged people who had already the basics of Tc. All left to be done, was to translate Tc to Sc. Subconsciously they bear in mind the Tc logic while writing Sc. In other words, they know that the 又 of 权 is different than that of 鸡.
But new learners are oblivious to the difference, and are forced to blindly drill in the language. This is where logic fails to play its role and Chinese becomes one of the hardest languages to learn on Earth.
Now, one point to clarify – there are only two stages in one’s mastering of a language, i.e. learning and using. Both conditions require different qualities of a language. In learning, the language has to be easily comprehended. In using, the language has to be conveyed conveniently. Tc ‘partially’ fulfils the former, while Sc partially fulfils the latter.
We, already fluent in the language, would have – by hook by crook – passed the ‘learning’ stage and demand simplicity and convenience in writing. This is selfishness at its worst, but I shall not elaborate on that, since it ultimately is still ‘our’ language. Nonetheless, those who went through Sc education would still once in a while forget a component or even the whole structure of the Hanji, even those who regularly write in Chinese, because their basics were not firm enough. I once met a group of students debating whether the lower part of 罕 is a 干 or 十. They kept rewriting the character, using both 干 and 十, and based on ‘which variant looks more pleasing to the eye’ they chose 十. I was horrified at their conclusion that I stepped up and said, ‘罕 got its sound from 干, so what do you think?’ And, I can guarantee, they – or anyone who is reading my post now – would remember for life that the lower part of 罕 is a 干, even if they have not been exposed to Chinese for years.
I raise the example to prove that understanding is always more efficient. No amount of blind drilling can replace that of simple logic, and, Tc is advantageous so. However, in terms of convenience, Sc wins hands down. Therefore I suggest a compromise between them; learn Tc first during primary – using logic – then proceed to teach them the corresponding simplifying ways. All media should be printed in Tc, since usage of both fonts does not influence the typing speed.
Lastly, if any of my cited examples are wrong, or if I have offended you, or if I have completely ignored one of your vital points, I am deeply sorry - please tell me. I mean no harm. ^^ Just want to discuss.