Hanyu Pinyin Battle Lost?


The Tsai administration has not taken any obvious steps toward expanding use of Tongyong Pinyin. In fact, use of Hanyu Pinyin has expanded even in some green areas, such as Tainan – though that may be more from ignorance/laziness than from any new policy.

As for possible new battles in the long-dormant romanization wars, Kaohsiung has long been the only real stronghold of Tongyong Pinyin. It will be interesting to see if the incoming mayor, Han Guo-yu, moves to change that and, if he does, how people there will react. Of course, what he’ll do about just about anything is still largely anyone’s guess.


Pinyin was created by Chinese linguists… as part of a Chinese government project in the 1950s. ← cause it was a Communist invention? One tasked by Zhou En-lai himself.


Question 1: Should there be a universal standard throughout Taiwan? Of course. I’d really like to see the argument against that…

Question 2: What should that standard be?

I don’t think question 2 is debatable really. Romanization exists in Taiwan for one purpose and one purpose only: to facilitate communication with people who can’t read Chinese. That’s it.

Seeing as that’s the sole purpose of a romanization system in Taiwan, the romanization option that best accomplishes that purpose is OBVIOUSLY Hanyu Pinyin.


Some would disagree with you on Q2. They would say romanization is one way for Taiwan to assert its independence, must use something that PRC is not using.


Pinyin was created with enforcing Mandarin on the population. The only reason you would think Romanization is only for foreigners who can’t read Chinese is because you have bought into the Mandarin dominance here in Taiwan and wish to maintain it that way.

I hope that Romanization in Taiwan will be as useful for the Taiwanese to understand each other’s language as it would be for the foreign visitors.


You think Mandarin Chinese won’t be the dominant language in Taiwan in the future? Best of luck!


It can be dominant, but users of it don’t have to be ignorant of the other native languages.


I have no idea how you make that connection. Almost zero Taiwanese people on this island pay any attention at all to the array of Roman letters next to their Chinese characters on signs, menus, maps, etc. The letters are there for people who can’t read the Chinese characters. PERIOD. What other function do they serve?

It has never and will never serve that purpose… and any attempt to make it serve that purpose will, by necessity, weaken its ability to serve in its primary function as a facilitator of communication with non-Chinese readers.

The people who want anything other than Hanyu Pinyin as a standard on signs, maps, etc. are people putting ideology above function.


You’re referring to the aboriginal languages, right? Han Chinese/Taiwanese in Taiwan have no incentive to learn those languages, and they don’t.


That’s a stupid reason to use a less functional system.


The decline of the use of Romanization is caused by Japanese and KMT colonization. Romanization have been serving as the writing system for many Taiwanese native languages since the 17th century. Japanese and KMT’s brutal efforts in eradicating the use of native languages and writing systems is why virtually no one knows how to use Romanization today.

However, people still use it in their names and many place names. If Taiwan is to be a inclusive country that is actually proud of its cultural and linguistic diversity, then having a standard Romanization at least helps people to be able to pronounce each others names in each other’s native languages.


But its not an inclusive country and most voters don’t give a damn about cultural/linguistic diversity as it relates to aboriginals. KMT & DPP both couldn’t care less about promoting aboriginal languages, not even on their radar screen of issues to give a damn about.


You are talking about a completely separate issue than me. I’m talking about romanization for the Chinese language. If you want to use some system for romanizing one of the aboriginal languages or whatever, more power to you… But if there is a sign that says 烏日, and there is an array of Roman letters next to it for people who can’t read the characters, it is my strong opinion that those characters should be “Wuri.”

If you propose that we include other native languages on that sign as well, fine… I guess there is an argument to be made there, but at very least put the Chinese characters and the Hanyu Pinyin. There’s absolutely no good reason to use Tongyong or some other form of Chinese character romanization.


烏日 is right next to the capital of the Kingdom of Middag. Unfortunately the Dutch didn’t record its name.

There’s even Dutch census records of the region from Kasteel Zeelandia.

Consider that 喀哩 in 烏日 today can trace its name to Katar Sakaly, 烏日 is likely of Hoanya origin.

Since the name wasn’t recorded, it is my strong opinion that those characters should at least be Oo-jit in Taigi.


I’m sorry… but this kind of reasoning is just ridiculous to me. You could literally do this to EVERY LOCATION on the planet Earth…and the only thing you would arrive at is a bunch of confusion and arguing.

I am from Missouri. I could go through each city there and come up with what they were called by French or German settlers 300 years ago or I could go even further and come up with what the Native Americans called the area…or wait a second, there wasn’t just one Native American tribe there, there were probably several, each with its own name for the area. The point is that you would never be able to come up with a name that satisfies everyone.

So what do you do? You use the most common present-day usage… and 99.9% of people know that area by its Mandarin name of Wuri.

I had a friend who was, for some reason, annoyed by the fact that people call China “China” because of its root in the Qin dynasty… He would argue and argue that it is a misnomer because the name is a relic of the past and not accurate to the present-day boundaries, blah blah blah.

Again, that is just such a stupid argument. There is literally no name that is going to be ever-accurate. If we tried to keep names up-to-date, the language would evolve so quickly as to deem it practically useless.

You can be unhappy that the reason Mandarin is the primary language of Taiwan is due to KMT force and Chinese influence…but it is what it is and you have to make due with present-day facts. Trying to rewrite history by forcing foreigners to call things by their Taigi names while 99% of the country uses the Mandarin names is just ridiculous.


As you said, names can change. It can change to some ridiculous name like 烏日, or it can change to how it was meant to be said. Korea can change the name of its capital, Myanmar and Eswatini can change the name of its nation.

In the case of Wuri, the region was home to Hoanya people, and that’s preferably the name people should go by.


But it’s not just the PRC that uses it. Every country, besides Taiwan, who teaches Mandarin uses Han Yu Pinyin. Translation software, keyboards, etc. all use Han Yu already. Why not just accept that it is the most widely used and most user-friendly?


Taiwan aborigines make up about 2.3% of the population and will never have the political power to change names to their native languages or spread their languages to wider use.


Taiwan is permanently stuck in an existential political situation. If the demands of that mean that a tiny number of people–most of whom would probably nod twice and enjoy a good night’s sleep if Taiwan went down the toilet at the hands of its mortal enemies–have to exercise the apparently massive brainpower needed to figure out a couple of differences in some letters, tough shit, I say.


Thats interesting. Define “existential political situation”? Truth be told, first time I’ve heard that term.