New Romanization Requirements


#1

As printed in the Taipei Times on Oct. 1:

Moreover, apart from the Mandarin phonetic symbols – otherwise known as the “bopomofo” system – the guidelines require language teachers to abandon the more popular Hanyu system and use the Tongyong system when teaching Mandarin to foreigners.

Require language teachers to stop using the int’l standard Hanyu system… Which is greater? Their stupidity or arrogance?

If the government wizards want to adopt a system that only they understand for use in government documents, passport names or whatever, have fun. But requiring teachers to only teach in Tongyong? Not only will this harm the learning of the students (I’m not discussing the actual effectiveness of Hanyu for learning; I’m only talking about the ability to learn a romanization system which will be useful if the student ever goes anywhere outside of Taiwan), but less students will come to Taiwan (esp. as most students who learn overseas first learn Hanyu). I hope this another one of those joke ‘laws’ they like to pass but never bother to enforce.
Taiwan’s first step towards anti-internationalization has begun…

I think the foreign teaching community should adopt their own standard for ‘spelling’ English, and begin implementing that in Taiwan.


#2

I think the Taipei Times article http://www.taipeitimes.com/news/2002/10/01/story/0000170256 could be paraphrased as follows.

The Government will continue to do its utmost best to make the romanisation of Chinese in Taiwan as confusing and ambiguous and incorrect as is possible. No consideration will be given to the needs of foreigners who cannot read Chinese. All decisions regarding romanisation will be made by beauracrats with no interest in the topic. Correctness is of secondary importance to arbitrary usage of whatever system will win political favours at the time.


#3

The thing that struck me most about that article is the lack of newness in the news. The October 1 edition of the Taipei Times describes something that supposedly happened on August 22!

And then what does “international fame” mean? Taipei, sure – but anywhere else? I don’t think so. True, that’s probably the Cabinet’s ambiguity; but still the Times could have pushed for some clarity, especially since it had almost six weeks to work on the story!


#4

I have just looked at your site Cranky, and it was not good for the blood pressure. What exactly is the point of this new system ? They’re still using Q and have now stuck an “r” on the end of “le” where none exists in any dialect of Chinese I have ever heard. Water / shui, is still “shui” so every foreigner who can’t speak Chinese is still going to say “shooey”, so I mean I’m totally at a loss. And what’s with the institutionalised dyslexia ? I mEaN iF youStartWritingLikeThisNoFeckerIsEverGoingToBe AbleToReadAnythingYouWrite, as you pointed out.

thenexthingyouknowitllbenopunctuationatall. whatatotalshowerof

So I have the solution. We will all from now on use the International Phonetic Alphabet (which Taiwan has also refused to adopt) to teach English. Too easy ?


#5

Perhaps you were looking at the last column here:
www.romanization.com/streets/index.html
That’s labeled “un-pinyin” because it’s an old version of tongyong. I think the -r thing was part of associating Mandarin with Beijing. The tongyong camp is fond of the blatently political tactic of labeling tongyong “Taiwan pinyin” and hanyu as “China pinyin.”

A more modern version is here:
www.romanization.com/tongyong/
Note especially how in tongyong, c is sometimes


#6

Meanwhile in the rest of the world…


#7

… for the teaching of Mandarin to those who can’t read Chinese, I still think ‘bopomofo’ is the most accurate way to learn to pronounce correctly, and the easiest way for the student to use a dictionary. None of the romanization systems comes close, not even your beloved Pinyin.

(flameproof suit on)

Come on, it’s a few extra symbols to learn, compared to the 3000+ characters it will take to become proficient… :unamused:


#8

Only if you’re one of those foreigners that insists on anglicizing foreign words, butchering words like Champs d’Elysees, schadenfreude, or bu-dong-shi-de-waiguoren so badly that native speakers have no idea what the hell is being said.

The fact is, you could phoneticize all the vowel sounds of Mandarin with Coco Lee album covers, and do the consonants with Jacky Chang album covers and if you knew and practiced them correctly, you could still learn “perfect” Chinese pronunciation.

To suggest that all foreigners are incapable of “accurate” pronunciations when they learn another language that also uses the roman alphabet is ridiculous. How do you pronounce the word pizza, anyway? :?


#9

Yes, I would agree with MM. Anything taught badly won’t work, but careful teaching of HYPY will point out the same combination of initials and finals that make up each Chinese character, just as teaching of tones points out the behaviour of consecutive 3rd tones.

I like bopomofo well enough, but HYPY can be typed on a standard computer keyboard, which is nice, and is more accessible to beginners familiar with the Roman alphabet. Don’t forget mainlanders use it, as do the Greeks, Arabs, and Russians, and they can hardly be accused of confusing it with their native languages.


#10

Language “planning” efforts by governments usually don’t stick if the majority of those being “planned” for are against whatever’s going on. Look at Minnan…still around and going strong despite years of the KMT forbidding its use, limiting broadcasts, etc. etc.

From my limited but rapidly growing experience of the Taiwanese educational system from a student perspective ( :imp: ), if you ever did have Tongyong “proclaimed” on you, simply get everyone in your class to agree and then go on strike. I doubt anyone would know what to do.

Anyway, everybody knows that TOP (Tonally Orthographic Pinyin) is the solution…just like Hanyu Pinyin only not…but the minute differences actually benefit students, unlike the former silent q’s in tonal spelling schemes. Look for it in stores everywhere (well, maybe not very soon! :unamused: ) and be sure to ask for it and its companion set for Taiwanese (TOT: Tonally Orthographic Taiwanese, based on Church Romanization) by name. :laughing: That will confuse them even more.


#11

[quote=“Maoman”]
Only if you’re one of those foreigners that insists on anglicizing foreign words,

The fact is, you could phoneticize all the vowel sounds of Mandarin with Coco Lee album covers, and do the consonants with Jacky Chang album covers and if you knew and practiced them correctly, you could still learn “perfect” Chinese pronunciation.

To suggest that all foreigners are incapable of “accurate” pronunciations when they learn another language that also uses the roman alphabet is ridiculous.[/quote]

I knew I was going to need the suit if I were to challenge some deep-seated beliefs.
Have I cast aspertions on your sacred cow? Oops.

I’m not suggesting it’s not possible to learn accurate Mandarin pronunciation via romanization, just that if one is attempting a serious assault on the language, what is another handful of symbols which better represent the sounds described, are meant to be combined to make complete syllables, and don’t come with the baggage of sounds from another (completely different) language attached to them? Compared to the 3000 characters you have to learn anyway?
Comparing Mandarin pronunciation with that of German or Italian is irrelevant.

A standard keyboard you say? Who in Taiwan has a keyboard that only has English characters on it? I’ve never seen one. Did you bring it with you along with your pancake mix and pizza sauce?

What about the teaching of Mandarin to Taiwanese kids? Want to insist on them dropping ‘bopomofo’ and using romanization instead? :unamused:


#12

[quote=“hsiadogah”]

I’m not suggesting it’s not possible to learn accurate Mandarin pronunciation via romanization, just that if one is attempting a serious assault on the language, what is another handful of symbols which better represent the sounds described, are meant to be combined to make complete syllables, and don’t come with the baggage of sounds from another (completely different) language attached to them? Compared to the 3000 characters you have to learn anyway?..

…A standard keyboard you say? Who in Taiwan has a keyboard that only has English characters on it?

What about the teaching of Mandarin to Taiwanese kids? Want to insist on them dropping ‘bopomofo’ and using romanization instead? :unamused:[/quote]

I think you’re severely missing the point. Nowhere in this discussion is anyone talking about replacing or getting rid of bopomofo. We’re not discussing which is better for learning Chinese. While bopomofo is useful in certain ways for learning Chinese, that’s a completely different issue. Bopomofo is unfortunately completely useless as a standard for making certain Chinese words (generally the names of people, roads, etc) accessible and readable to non-Chinese speaking people. That’s what this debate over romanization is about. No one is going to take away bopomofo from you; have fun.

I have other things to say about the usefulness of bopomofo vs. romanization for a Chinese student/non-native speaker, but that’s for another thread; I don’t want to change the topic.


#13

I don’t have that baggage. Nor do any of my non-native Chinese speaking friends who are familiar with a (any) romanization system. I can recite a poem to you in Mandarin using Wade-Giles, Hanyu or Zhuyinfuhao, and my pronunciation will sound exactly the same.

(BTW, the term you are looking for is not BoPoMoFo, but Zhuyinfuhao. The phonetic sounds BoPoMoFo are also taught in mainland China, but they use Hanyu Pinyin to teach them. Nome Sane?)


#14

Come on.

Hanyu pinyin doesn’t really need to be taught to an adult Taiwanese. They should be able to pick it up instantly. I know that for a fact, because I tried to teach my wife HYPY 2 years ago. It was an uphill battle until i found a bopomofo table written using HYPY. (Bo po mo fo is the “normal” way of organizing one of those HYPY or zhuyinfuhao tables). I gave her the table, she got it immediately and was able to start typing HYPY on my computer 5 minutes later.

Most Taiwanese don’t get this anyway, as they don’t use HYPY, Wyyong PY, Zhuyin fuhao Yale, Wade-giles or any other system anyway. I think that DPP’s lame insistence on its own system is just a harebrained attempt to distance themselves from the PRC. It’s an easy way of doing this, as it only hits non-voting foreigners.


#15

[quote=“littleiron”]As printed in the Taipei Times on Oct. 1:

Moreover, apart from the Mandarin phonetic symbols – otherwise known as the “bopomofo” system – the guidelines require language teachers to abandon the more popular Hanyu system and use the Tongyong system when teaching Mandarin to foreigners.

Require language teachers to stop using the int’l standard Hanyu system… [/quote]

Littleiron, sorry if I somehow hijacked your thread, but this was the point of the original post was it not? If it wasn’t, then why the quote?

Perhaps there should be a different approach to teaching Mandarin as a first and as a second language. ‘bopomofo’ (zhuyinfuhao) for the former and a romanization system for the latter? Just thinking out loud here, don’t take it too seriously.

Oh, and Maoman, you could write the TT and correct them on the ‘bopomofo’ vs. zhuyinfuhao issue :unamused:

No one is questioning whether or not it is possible to correctly pronounce Mandarin from romanized script. I just wonder if it’s worthwhile trying to do this if you are in fact intent on studying the language to any depth… I’d spend the time learning characters, and I found it much faster to do that from ‘bopomofo’ (zhuyinfuhao) than from any of the romanization systems around at the time.

Anyway, I have probably even less interest in taking this any further than you do. I’ll leave you all to complaining about the Taipei street signs.


#16

What was my point? Oh yeah… Bopomofo has been taught alongside hanyu pinyin in Taiwan for many years, although it seems HYPY has been becoming more dominant, but that probably also depends on the school.

So by requiring teachers to stop teaching HYPY, that means they will A) ONLY be learning bopomofo or B) learning bopomofo and a system that is pretty useless, especially outside of Taiwan. From the article, it almost seems as if teachers will be breaking the law if they teach HYPY. (I’m assuming I’m wrong on this point, but you never know around here…)

That was my point.
Now that it’s been ‘hijacked’ :smiley:

Bopomofo can be useful in some regards, especially for beginnining students as hsiadogah mentioned - the portion who bring baggage along. But apart from being a possibly useful tool for learning pronounciation for some, I generally advocate delegating its learning as a secondary tool, and then only if alongside HYPY (perhaps its because I didn’t learn it until I got to Taiwan, used it for a little while, and then promptly forgot it).
Taiwanese adults almost never use it (many of my friends are rustier with it than I am) except to perhaps A) type (HYPY is faster for foreigners to type in anyways, and doesn’t require any relearning - I type Chinese faster than 80% of my colleagues), or B) look up characters in the dictionary, which I again propose is much quicker for native English speakers if the ‘English’ alphabet is used.

I’m not against learning it per se, I just don’t think its nearly as useful, especially beyond the beginning stages of learning.


#17

There’s no practical way the government can enforce any of these ‘guidelines’ in any case. The international standard is and will remain Hanyu pinyin, which I used to learn Chinese (along with zhuyinfuhao later on), and I think my pronunciation isn’t too bad. All the government is doing here is further marginalizing itself.


#18

Ha… I was the same; I could speak a little when I first came to Taiwan, but even by ‘only’ using HYPY, my pronounciation was still MUCH more standard than almost all of the Taiwanese I met. Of course, that was Tainan, but they learn zhuyinfuhao down there too…!


#19

It seems to me that we all agree on a few things:

Whichever system we learned first is best because it worked for us.

Tongyong is like reinventing the wheel. It’s no better than anything else out there now, and quite possibly not even as good.

If Taiwan wants to attract foreign students to come and learn Chinese here, it’s a bad idea to force Tongyong on them. Not that the economy hinges on income from foreign students of course…

Non-Chinese reading foreign visitors to Taipei are screwed, but then again, they always have been to a lesser or greater degree.

Question (for another thread perhaps?) for the fans of ‘international norms’:

Should foreigners be taught either traditional or simplified characters, or both?


#20

Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional Traditional

Simplified is ugly. There’s no history behind them (and thus no meaning for the more complicated characters), which makes it easier to learn in the beginning, and harder to learn later. And on a practical level, it’s MUCH easier learning simplified after traditional, rather than the other way around.

Besides, traditional is used in Hong Kong (mostly), Singapore (often) and most overseas Chinese communities. I’ve even heard its becoming vogue again in Communist China.

Did I mention simplified is just ugly?