Return of Pinyin Wars


#122

In simple words: No. It is not automatic. Hanyu pinyin is not like Spanish, which is an almost phonetical language -what you read is how you say it 96% of the time. It is a system, in which familiar letters, say, a z, stand for a fricattive sound, for example. There is a convention you follow, and to be able to read it, you need to be a bit familiar with teh system. In other words, you need to know the rules under which this langauge works in order to be able to use it. Like you need to know a car needs gasoline and water and which pedals move forward or stop. You do not need to know the laws of physics in orde to make it move. you need the mecahnics of it.


#123

Short of intensive social engineering, I don’t think government policy makes any difference at this point in regard to the dominance of Mandarin. Critical mass was reached a long time ago.

I think there’s definitely a place for preservation of these languages, but it’s very difficult to reverse the decline once it’s underway. Think of all the families where you have two parents fluent in Taiwanese and the kids can’t even hold a simple conversation in the language. The pull of the dominant culture is just too strong.

The same holds for Hakka and all the aboriginal languages. Officially recognizing Hakka and having a Hakka TV station, especially with such lame programming, isn’t nearly enough. The younger generation just doesn’t care. I predict a continuing decline and eventual death for these languages.

That’s a best case scenario. How many Hawaiians do you know who speak fluent Hawaiian?


#124

Fair enough. I’m just saying, as a foreigner, that Zhongshan does phoenetically read the way locals pronounce that word. So does Danshui. I can look at the word “Danshui,” and actually sound it out, and it’s going to come out pretty close to how it’s supposed to be pronounced. When I sound out “Tamsui,” it sounds nothing like the way the word is pronounced. There is no “t” or “m” sound in the way that word is actually pronounced.

So I’m saying one system DOES come closer to being phonetically accurate (whether it’s supposed to or not), at least from the perspective of this English-speaker. That makes it much easier for me.


#125

This isn’t a characteristic of any system, but the result of a decision by the local government to use a historical spelling which approaches the pronunciation of the place in Minnan.


#126

Dan Shooey?

Sounds like an Irish name. But that would be spelled Shouhy. Or maybe Shoughey.

Or is it dansh wee?

Listen to the announcements on the MRT and Tamsui will make a sort of sense to you. As will the forced march to Mandarin.

None of this would even be an issue if everybody on the planet just spoke English. Or French. Or Latin. Or Esperanto. Or maybe even Mandarin.


#127

Give it a few decades.


#128

For what it’s worth, if I pronounce “Tamsui” (a spelling that I hate!) as dumbly and fresh off the boat as possible (t-am-se-uh-ee), it’s surprisingly close to the pronunciation in Taiwanese.

Hanyu pinyin does have to be learned, but, well, so what. That’s how languages work. If you’re going to spend any time in France or Germany or Italy you’re expected to learn phonetic symbols have different meanings in different countries. If you’re going around France saying “deh-uchs bee-air-ess sill voh-uhs plah-itt”, that’s on you, not the language.

Is it possible to have a written language that would encompass all the local languages? I’m not sure how that could work - it’d be like writing “Germany”, with English speakers knowing that pronunciation, and Chinese speakers knowing that “ger-” = de, and “many” = guo; and Germany speakers I guess knowing “Ger” = deutsch, and “many” = land. If there’s always a one-to-one consistent correspondence between the syllables in Mandarin and in Taiwanese and in Hakka and in all the different aboriginal languages, OK, I guess it’s theoretically possible, but I’d be surprised.

Or do you mean multilingual signs, with Chinese characters in one line, followed by Mandarin pronunciation (Romanization system yet to be determined), followed by Taiwanese pronunciation (ditto), followed by Hakka pronunciation (ditto), followed by X aboriginal languages (ditto)? That’d be kind of cool - it’s not unusual in Canada to see highway signs with English / French / local First Nations language.


#129

the zh sound definitely needs to be learned. really its more of a JH sound. anything with a Z or X is probably not going to be pronounced correctly from an English speaking newb. but hey, thats going to happen with every language to a degree. the same thing would happen in France or Italy too. i don’t think its the end of the world. Americans even pronounce English places wrong such as Glasgow, Nottingham ect. i think people need to get over pinyin not being 100% accurate. it does a pretty good job and its better than a hodge podge of lesser systems.


#130

Multilingual sings are the modern era’s Rosetta stone.

Just having multiple languages will help people learn other languages… a bit. Eventually these signs could work themselves out of a job.

Put enough languages on a sign and you have a visual demonstration of the absurdity of so many languages. Put one - the designated lingua franca - up on top in big type. It’s both educational and propaganda.

The trouble in Taiwan would be they’d want the Hanzi up top in big type, because those complicated characters just aren’t readable unless you print them big. Not the lingua franca we want.

It occurs to me that we could market a simplified Hanzi character set, so long as it’s not THAT one. Emphasis on lowering the maximum stroke count. For most phonetic-radical pairs, ditch the radical and keep the phonetic component. Elsewhere, simplify the complicated radicals. Sell this as more readable for the elderlies, and good for small print like the ingredient list on a pack of gum. Have it coexist with the traditional trainwreck. Soft sell it. Side by side, the advantage will be obvious.

Or we could do the exact same thing with Bopomofo. Or, to accommodate the old folks who never got Mandarin, a mixture of the two, keeping only the characters with reasonable stroke counts.


#131

It’s helpful to know that many simplified characters used in China weren’t invented by the Commies, but were taken from cursive script forms that have existed since ancient times, or are actually the original forms of characters that were later made more complicated.


#132

I thought I had spotted simplified characters in handwritten signs. Cursive?


#133

Hard to say without seeing it. If it looked like calligraphy, then possibly yes. Taiwanese will also sometimes use Japanese kanji (and even hiragana) in handwriting, some of which are also simplified forms of Chinese characters.


#134

No but there is a chance that they will be stuck on a computer without Zhuyin or asked to write their name in Pinyin, or search for a movie in Pinyin or a million other similar situations.

I am not really interested if Taiwanese people use what Romanization for themselves. They already have BopoMofo and I dont really see why they need a Romanization anyway. It barely has any effect on their lives in any way.

Not using Hanyu Pinyin is just annoying to tourists and international businesses. I would be annoyed to have to learn another system if I was a tourist here. I would be annoyed if I had to send a parcel to Taiwan but not having any standard romanization system. I would be annoyed if I had spent some time learning Pinyin but found it useless in Taiwan. It just seems parochial and lacking basic empathy.


#135

Also, all people really want is street names and places written in Hanyu Pinyin. Addresses as well would be useful. Maybe Pinyin as standard in academic texts and in the English news. I dont see how any of that would make any difference to the average Taiwan.


#136

[quote=“OrangeOrganics, post:134, topic:87309, full:true”]
No but there is a chance that they will be stuck on a computer without Zhuyin or asked to write their name in Pinyin, or search for a movie in Pinyin or a million other similar situations.[/quote]

That wouldn’t be something you would go to the trouble of learning a phonetic system for however.

I am not really interested if Taiwanese people use what Romanization for themselves. They already have BopoMofo and I dont really see why they need a Romanization anyway. It barely has any effect on their lives in any way.

You may not be, but the Taiwanese might have an interest in what system they use, after all. They do use it for certain things.

Not using Hanyu Pinyin is just annoying to tourists and international businesses. I would be annoyed to have to learn another system if I was a tourist here. I would be annoyed if I had to send a parcel to Taiwan but not having any standard romanization system. I would be annoyed if I had spent some time learning Pinyin but found it useless in Taiwan. It just seems parochial and lacking basic empathy.

Is it really? If you haven’t learned one or the other system, then you’re going to be starting from the ground floor either way, or just using it as a rough tool to have a name for things. I don’t really see how you could “learn” one or the other without having some grasp of Chinese. If you have learned one, the differences are pretty trivial. If you’re at the exact stage where you’ve learned one but are not advanced enough to have trouble with the other one, then it would seem that you just have a bit more learning to do.


#137

If there were ever actually a system, I’d be fine with it. But there won’t be. It’ll be Hanyu Pinyin for some stuff plus a big random mess arbitrarily and inconsistently applied everywhere else, without any indication of what “rules” the reader is supposed to be following.


#138

That’s practically a given. For sure, one system should be decided on.


#139

Looks like separate but equal at this point…Hanyu in the north, and Tongyong in the south. Kind of like two political dialects.


#140

Is Tongyong being used consistently these days? When l lived in Tainan the Romanization was a right mess, with 西門路 spelled at least three different ways as you drove along it.

tempogain, I wish it were a given, but I fear it isn’t. I suspect a lot of the non-Hanyu Pinyin crowd is solely that: non-Hanyu Pinyin. Replace it with … eh, who cares. Whatever feels right. Just not Hanyu Pinyin.

Has anyone paid attention to the pinyin used in Apple Maps? Now when I look at their road names in Taipei, they seem to be pretty consistently Hanyu Pinyin, and if I recall correctly they were bizarrely random a year or two back. And their district names are weird: “Siabasian”? “Jhouzihwei”? Is that one of the systems? If so, which one?


#141

Thanks! Wonderful!
:+1:

This perfectly illustrates one of my primary objections with Tongyong!