I’m starting this thread to deal not with the romanization of Mandarin but with the use of Chinese characters for languages/dialects other than Mandarin.
An article in last Friday’s Taiwan News had something about this. I’ve been looking for followup information but haven’t seen any. So I’ll just get things started with this:
Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun yesterday said the invention of a character system for the various Chinese languages is more important than choosing a romanization spelling system for the Chinese languages in Taiwan. ...
Huang said yesterday that the romanization spelling system could not completely represent a language and the phonetic symbols are just part of the language. “What is more significant is to build up a written character system, which would be the true identity of a language,” Huang said…
“The MOE has promised the Legislature to design a character system for Hoklo, Hakka, and the aboriginal languages within three years, and the current drafting of the bill will be completed in two months and submitted to the Executive Yuan for review,” he added.
In short, the Ministry of Education want to use Chinese characters, not romanization, not only for dialects of Chinese other than Mandarin but also for languages from completely different language groups. This is nothing short of astonishing.
I’m trying to figure out the reasoning – and, perhaps more to the point, politics – behind this.
Has anyone else heard news of this?
John DeFrancis, where are you when we need you?