Official Romanization of Taiwanese citizens' names


#1

My gf has expressed interest in changing the romanization of her passport. She would ideally like to do this before we go to Canada next summer to get hitched because she has no desire to have her current romanization on our wedding license, but has no idea as to the process. Juba, Cranky, or any of you Hanyu diehards out there encountered this situation yet? What’s her next step? And are there any other official government documents that have romanization on them, or is it just the passport? TIA…


#2

I talk to my gf about this too. She said names cannot be changed in Taiwan: ) I just smiled…

ax


#3

I might be interested in this. When I applied for my passport, they asked me if I had any kind of special requests for my name (they probably expected “Zaphod Beeblebrox” or the like), but I just told them to do it according to whatever romanization scheme they normally used. Lately I’ve been wondering if I should have used Hanyu Pinyin instead, but all of my credit cards have the same name as my passport and would be a bitch to change as well. At least they didn’t use any 'y’s or 'w’s for vowels. If I were getting a passport today I would definitely write my name in Hanyu Pinyin for them, and I would be interested to know if and how it can be changed.


#4

If I were in that kind of situation, I would want to use a western given name along with my Chinese surname, e.g. Ivy Wang, Ronald Li or whatever, because westerners have even more difficulty remembering Chinese names than Chinese people have remembering western ones. Is that allowed? Then you would only have to fret about whether your surname is spelled Hsu or Xu, Chang or Zhang etc. You can also change your name abroad. In London I had a Nigerian friend called Tunde Igbo who had his surname changed to Forrest. Igbo is Yoruba for forest, and he fancied a double R. If he came to Taiwan, we’d have to call him Tunde Lin.

Does anyone know whether Taiwan still forces non-Han people (i.e. aborigines) to register a Han name? Turkey has a similar attitude, refusing to register any name in the Kurdish language. But I’m wandering further and further away from the topic…


#5

I’m pretty sure they do have to. Household registration requires a Chinese name (foreigners marrying Taiwanese are also required to have a Chinese name). On the other hand, I expect they could use a transliteration of their aboriginal name.

Brian


#6

What sort of research has she done? Understand too, that my gf doesn’t want to change her name, just the spelling. I’m not sure that this is the same thing. Already Taiwan has different official spellings, but I believe that that has to do with your generation and the romanization system in place at the time of your birth, no?

Anyway, there are still discrepancies. I don’t believe that KMT legislator Chen Hsueh-Saint was born with that spelling. I wonder if his passport reflects it, or is it just his daily usage? What about DPP legislator Hsiao Bi-Khim, whose name is a Taiwanese transliteration of Xiao Meiqing? Is that how her name is spelled on her official documents too? Are there any official government documents where one’s name is romanized apart from passports?

I would like to know if anyone (Taiwan citizen) has done this, and what the procedure might be. Speculation isn’t entirely useful.

This isn’t about usage, it’s about my girlfriend wanting her name to appear on official documents using a logical romanization system.

What does Chinese mean? Mandarin? China’s a big country, with lots of disparate dialects, ethnicities, and cultures. And if one can use a transliteration of their aboriginal name, are you talking about the character name, or the romanized version? For example, [b]


#7

Some information – though not enough – is available in “Name Changes to Become Easier,” which was published last September in the Minshen Daily.


#8

FULL NAME REGISTRATION LAW

Passed Legislative Yuan third reading, June 1, 2001

Section 1
Republic of China (ROC) nationals may have only one name, and said full name should be the official name stated in the census records.
Taiwan aborigines should be registered under their customary full names. Aborigines registered under a Han’s full name should apply for restitution of traditional full name; those who have restituted their traditional full name should apply for the restitution of their Chinese full name; however an individual is entitled to a single restitution application.
A registered ROC national marrying an alien or a stateless individual applying for census registration should use the Chinese translation of the spouse surname; said surname should be consistent with the customary full name used by ROC nationals.
The Chinese surname of a child born from a marriage between a stateless national marrying an alien or stateless individual, or of an alien or stateless individual applying for naturalization in ROC should comply with the conditions of the preceding paragraph.

Section 2
The full name registered in the census record should be written in words found in the Ministry of Education Mandarin dictionary or Tzu-Yuan (origin of Chinese phrase or expression), Tzu-Hai (Chinese words collection), Kanghsi and other general dictionary; however, an exemption to paragraph 1 is the registered traditional full name of aborigines which should be written using the Romanization system.
Full names that are not written with words found in any of the aforementioned general dictionaries shall not be registered.


#9

another one.


#10

I meant Chinese characters. Although according to the law that Cranky showed us, aborigines are allowed (required?) to use romanisation of their aboriginal names, it seems all others have to have a Chinese character name.

But this is irrelevant to your original query which is about the ‘official’ romanisation of your girlfriend’s name. At the moment ther is no ‘official’ romanisation until a Taiwanese gets their passport (ie there is no romanisation of the Chinese name ont he ID card or household registration etc). When my wife got her passport (I was there) the travel agency applied for her. She was asked how she spelt her name and when she said she didn’t know the woman helped her with a chart that converted bopomo to another system (not sure if it was Wade Giles or that other one MPS2 or something). I wish I’d persuaded her to use pinyin at the time. The thing here is that although the ‘default’ was Wade Giles or MPS2 or something, she could have chosen any spelling she wanted.

Now I noticed a few months ago whent hat committee made the decision to use Tongyong as the official system, that they were going to require people getting new passports to use Tongyong. So if you want to try and change the passport name, I think you’d better do it quickly. But sorry, I still don’t know if it’s technically possible, but I suspect that the only or best way might be for her to lose (or quickly fill up :slight_smile: ) her passport and apply for a new one, but that would be a hassle of course.

Brian


#11

[quote=“cranky laowai”]FULL NAME REGISTRATION LAW

Passed Legislative Yuan third reading, June 1, 2001

Section 1
Republic of China (ROC) nationals may have only one name, and said full name should be the official name stated in the census records.
Taiwan aborigines should be registered under their customary full names. Aborigines registered under a Han’s full name should apply for restitution of traditional full name; those who have restituted their traditional full name should apply for the restitution of their Chinese full name; however an individual is entitled to a single restitution application.
A registered ROC national marrying an alien or a stateless individual applying for census registration should use the Chinese translation of the spouse surname; said surname should be consistent with the customary full name used by ROC nationals.
The Chinese surname of a child born from a marriage between a stateless national marrying an alien or stateless individual, or of an alien or stateless individual applying for naturalization in ROC should comply with the conditions of the preceding paragraph…etc.[/quote]

That is helpful, but only to a certain extent. Not having the original Chinese version to hand, it looks as though it is a poor translation. From the English, it would appear that, whereas in the past aborigines were forced to take a Han name, they are now being forced to drop their Han name and restore their mother-tongue one. Is it really “should” or “may?” Also, “a Han’s full name” should be “a Han full name” or “a full Han name” and they jump around between imprecise term “Chinese” and the more precise “Han.” Looks like they need a better translator - me, for example.

Nevertheless, it’s good to know that the Taiwanese aborigines now do have the right to register their mother-tongue name - a right that has always been enjoyed by ethnic minority people in the PRC.


#12

I had an informal talk about romanization this afternoon with a nice woman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (I had to go there anyway for something else, but how’s that for a pathetic way to spend Christmas?) She told me that the default romanization is now tongyong, because that’s what the central gummit tells them it should be. It would also be OK to use Wade-Giles (or “Wade-Gilos” as the MOFA guidebook spells it – typical!). Likewise, MPS2 would be fine. Chabuduo, ya know.

Hanyu pinyin, on the other hand, wouldn’t be OK, she said, because such has been declared from on high.

I asked to see the law. But there isn’t a law, she said, just an administrative order. I’m not sure whether this is formal or informal.

What if I wanted to use my own special Cranky Laowai Pinyin? Under this system, Chen Shui-bian might be spelled Tgbbbrdw Mnttuc-waton!ga. That’s not hanyu pinyin, so would it be permitted?

For that to be permitted, I’d have to be able to show that it’s taught and used internationally, was the gist of her answer.

So wouldn’t that mean that tongyong would be forbidden, since it is most certainly not used internationally?

Hahaha. Nice try. The powers that be want tongyong.

As for MOFA’s “Wade-Gilos” [sic] guidelines, they’re wrong! They don’t even bother with the apostrophes, making pa (ba) the same as p’a (pa). When I pointed out that this is a very major error, she just said, “Chabuduo jiu keyi.”

So, I wouldn’t take this as a definitive answer but as insight into the approach taken by those who administer the policy on a daily basis.