Recommended reading on romanization

Just added: Schriftfestschrift: Essays on Writing and Language in Honor of John DeFrancis on His Eightieth Birthday.

This includes the sample essay “Why Chinese is so damn hard.”

So how was it so easy to “replace” Cantonesse with Mandarin in Hong Kong

Maybe replace is not the word - and I was not there when it happened - but I gather that Mandarin speaking happened very quickly with reunification

Well, rian, that’s kind of Mandarin’s raison d’etre. It’s a “replacing language”, if you want to think of it that way. It was promulgated so that people from different cities and provinces could speak to each other, all using a constucted language that’s related to, and simpler than, all of their native languages. Bahasa Indonesia is another successful example of this phenomenon, tho not as successful as Mandarin – it still has few mother-tongue speakers. Of course, Indonesia doesn’t have the luxury of near ethnic homogeny that China does. Esperanto in Europe is an example of an even less successful constructed trade language. Thanks to English for this one not catching on, to the deep chagrin of many nationalistic, anti-American-and-English-hegemony Europeans.

In Vladivostok, Russia, I bought a train ticket to Harbin, China. The ticket was in two languages. One was Russian, naturally. The other was (drumroll please) German! A language not spoken for thousands of miles, excluding a tiny ethnic community remaining on Sakhalin Island. I rolled my eyes and shook my head at this one. I can’t tell whether this is because of the Russian penchant for outdated things and systems, or the fact that they are way too proud a people to consider using English or Chinese. Probably both.

An advance look at another book chapter I’ve added to my site: the section on “Chinese” from Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems, by John DeFrancis.

This is one of the most-cited works in the field.

The Web page needs a bit more work, but it’s basically all there now.

I’ve revised the link above to reflect the location of the finished file – or almost finished. It’s missing just three difficult characters. … 07bookmark :frowning: