Hanyu Pinyin Battle Lost?


This excerpt from today’s Taipei Times:

Mark Swofford, webmaster of pinyin.info/readings and romanization.com, described the Romanization of Taiwan’s road signs as a mess.

While the mixed use of Tong-yong Pinyin and Hanyu Pinyin on road signs has caused enough confusion, the old-fashioned Wade-Giles system is also used on many public signs, Swofford said.

“There is no system and no standard,” he said.

Full story: taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/ … 2003058903


I know Cranky and a lot of others hate me for this, but as much as I love Hanyu pinyin, I still think that it is Commie pinyin. Taiwan should differentiate itself with some other romanization which must be uniform across the island.[/quote]
:imp: (putting on my Spock ears for what is to be a logical argument to come, not evil horns)
I don’t hate you for having an illogical viewpoint. Saying Hanyu is commie is like saying the Gregorian calendar is Christian. Systems may have their origins in certain places and times, but good systems, like Hanyu Pinyin, rise above their origin because of their accuracy or popularity.
The problem with the Taiwanese is they will never be able to chose one system, and if they do, they will not be able to learn it correctly. I suspect Miss Shu Qi is the victim of a person who used the chart wrong when making her passport name.
:unamused: (Putting on my Dr. “Bonz” McCoy humanistic attitude now)
BUT the beauty of Taiwan is that, dodging the shadow of China’s dictatorship, she finds her self doing an impressionistic dance of freedom and love. It can be confusing giving everybody a voice. Now we have Tongyong (a system that is all about politics and trying to be individual) vying with some old system built by missionaries (does that make Wade Giles “Christian” Hobart?) faced with the lovely, accurate, logical, Hanyu Pinyin. It’s a mess. And I love it. Bring it on. Some one make a new system that romanizes Chinese into Cyrillic letters and insist it is the right system. PLEASE. It will make me even more happy.
:imp: What are you talking about
:unamused: Shut up, Spock, I’m sick of your half-breed interference


You’re on for both bets.

How much Guanxi are you 2 gonna wager on this?


It’s been done. Tongyong was chosen as Taiwan’s standard, er, but with a “soft power” approach. Another DPP disappointment.

5th paragraph of http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/edit/archives/2002/07/13/148122;
and http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2002/07/11/147813


Back during the Cultural Revolution, it was decided that since [color=red]red[/color] is progressive, traffic lights should be changed. Yes, you guessed it, [color=red]Red[/color] for Go and [color=green]Green[/color] for Stop. :laughing:[/quote]
It was like a mini-SARS hitting the economies of metropolises of China at the time. People couldn’t get to work on time. Traffic cops became like the soup Nazi on Seinfeld.


Repeat: The traffic light change didn’t cause a single traffic jam because it was never implemented. It was proposed by a few highschool students in Beijing and immediately turned down by Premier Zhou Enlai.

By definition, romanisation uses Latin letters, so you can’t have a romanisation system using Cyrillic letters. I suppose the word would be slavicisation. Actually there is a Cyrillic equivalent of Hanyu pinyin. A couple of interesting features: the sound represented by R in Hanyu pinyin is represented in Cyrillic pinyin by the letter that is usually latinised as ZH as in Zhirinovsky (looks like an X with a line down the middle, sounds like a French J.) The sound represented by H in Hanyu pinyin is represented by the Russian letter that is usually latinised as KH as in Khabarovsk (looks like an X, pronounced like CH in Loch Ness.) Also, the Russian language has no NG sound, so the Hanyu pinyin NG becomes a hard N (looks like H, sounds the same an English N) and the Hanyu pinyin N becomes a soft N (looks like Hb, sounds similar to Spanish N+tilde.) The “I” problem in Hanyu pinyin (it is used to represent three different vowel sounds depending on the preceding sound) is relieved somewhat when using the Cyrillic alphabet because it has another vowel available, so the I’s in Hanyu pinyin “xi” and “si” are represented by different letters in Cyrillic. Sorry, this probably make no sense to you if you don’t know Russian.

Russian letter ZH, pronounced like French J, used to represent the same sound as R in Hanyu pinyin

Table of Russian/Cyrillic pinyin versus zhuyin fuhao


There was a story in the United Daily News today, too:




By definition, romanisation uses Latin letters, so you can’t have a romanisation system using Cyrillic letters.[/quote]

My humor got ahead of the terminology. Oh well. :blush:


The battle has been won in Taipei but the results may not be pretty.

See today’s China Post

[quote=“China Post”]English names in Taipei City to be written in hanyu pinyin by year-end


TAIPEI, Taiwan

The China Post staff

Taipei City will alter the English names of its public facilities and apply hanyu pinyin to schools, parks, roads and tourist attractions by the end of the year.

Implementation of the new Chinese romanization system will force municipalities to make changes to existing English titles including the renaming of streets such as “Chung.-shan” to “Zhongshan,” “Fu.hsing” to “Fuxing” and " Min.chuan" to “Minqian.”

City officials announced last Tuesday that, with the exception of public roads, facilities operated by the city government must have their titles translated into a single word with no capitalizations in the middle.

Under the policy, the city may see some long names for places such as the “Xiahaichenghuangmiaoqian Plaza.”

Street names, on the other hand, will capitalize the beginning of each syllable so that drivers can save time in identifying messages on the road signs. Changes includes “Ren.-ai Road” rewritten as “Ren.Ai Road.” **

The policy has drawn protest from schools reluctant to change their original names.

The Tao-Kiang High Commercial Vocational School in Taipei’s Tatong district was one of the several institutions who have asked the city government to allow them to keep the existing spelling.

A spokesman for the school declared that its current English name, translated from the Taiwanese dialect, has been appearing on official documents for years and is meaningful to both teachers and students.

The city rejected Tao-Kiang’s request, saying the academy must change its name into Daojiang High Commercial Vocational School within the next four months.

The few schools exempted by the government from applying the hanyu pinyin policy included the Taipei First Girls’ Senior High School, Wego Private School, George Vocational High School and St. Francis’ High.

A spokesman for the special committee screening the applications said the schools are allowed to keep their names if the translations are widely recognized or originated from non-Chinese languages.

Other translation methods unaffected by the new policy included the spelling of “Taipei” and the names of popular recreational sites such as the Youth Park, the 228 Peace Park, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall.

In contrast with the rest of the country, who uses a phonetic romanization system designed by Taiwanese scholars, Taipei implements a pinyin system more accepted by Chinese-speaking communities around the world. [/quote]


Same spelling, but Ma’s planning to have all of the signs be rewritten with blue lettering, to support Chan-Soong.


[quote]Under the policy, the city may see some long names for places such as the “Xiahaichenghuangmiaoqian Plaza.”
What an awful mess of a name. Why are words run together like this? Nobody can read that.


[quote=“Wazai”][quote]Under the policy, the city may see some long names for places such as the “Xiahaichenghuangmiaoqian Plaza.”
What an awful mess of a name. Why are words run together like this? Nobody can read that.[/quote]
I don’t get it. I can’t figure out what characters correspond to Xiahaichenghuangmiaoqian … Is it derived from an Aboriginal language?


Is it


[quote=“Wazai”][quote]Under the policy, the city may see some long names for places such as the “Xiahaichenghuangmiaoqian Plaza.”
What an awful mess of a name. Why are words run together like this? Nobody can read that.[/quote]

Never mind that, it conforms to hanyu pinyin rules so it’s good for Taiwan. it’s the global standard.


Writingeverythingasonebiglongword is not standard hanyu pinyin orthography. Writing words as individual words is. I worry that the city is going to screw this up.


Now the “Taiwan Factor” ™ will come into play. What makes anyone think that if they mispelled the past and present systems they are going to do any better now? Attention to detail would be nice…

Patch Rd (sign at the corner of Pa-Te (Bade) and Tun-Hwa)
Chili Rd (sign near Chilin Rd and Nanking)




I they know are.


I should have known better than to assume they would do it correctly.


Interesting to note - what language do the Chinese - on both sides of the strait use to pronounce individual letters of the “latin” alphabet? The answer is English!! - Not German - Not French, which I know - and I guess Spanish, Italian etc. (I case you wonder, yes the letters of the alphabet are pronounced differently in different western languages)

“ABC” in French is “are bay say” to give it an English equivalent sound.