Return of Pinyin Wars


#1

In the last few years, the Pinyin controversy seems to have died down a lot. Tongyongnists like the Taiwan Pinyin Association seem to have become inactive, and DPP governments in Taoyuan and Taichung are continuing with Hanyu Pinyin.

But sadly Tongyong has not been completely wiped out. It is still used by local governments in the South. Even some central government organizations haven’t got round to switching.
Is there any possibility of these local governments switching to Hanyu and finally resolving the Pinyin mess? Or will a DPP win in January mean Tongyong coming back from the dead?


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#2

No fear. Even if there is a DPP win and a Tongyong revival, local authorities and individuals still have the power to use whatever form of spelling floats their boat.

This under the “certain localities may use the traditional spelling” and the ever popular “because I say so”. So nope, we will not have unified Tongyong pinyin imposed, maybe on paper, but it was a hopeless cause before, it is still a hopeless cause now.


#3

[quote=“Icon”]No fear. Even if there is a DPP win and a Tongyong revival, local authorities and individuals still have the power to use whatever form of spelling floats their boat.

This under the “certain localities may use the traditional spelling” and the ever popular “because I say so”. So nope, we will not have unified Tongyong pinyin imposed, maybe on paper, but it was a hopeless cause before, it is still a hopeless cause now.[/quote]

But the government could in theory change all the highway signs back to Tongyong!

How about getting Kaohsiung, Tainan etc to use Hanyu and eradicate Tongyong once and for all?


#4

[quote=“Mawvellous”]
But the government could in theory change all the highway signs back to Tongyong!

How about getting Kaohsiung, Tainan etc to use Hanyu and eradicate Tongyong once and for all?[/quote]

I don’t live in Taipei, but I’m curious…has Taipei mayor Ko launched a Tongyong campaign, or has he left the Hanyu signs in place?


#5

[quote=“Dog’s_Breakfast”][quote=“Mawvellous”]
But the government could in theory change all the highway signs back to Tongyong!

How about getting Kaohsiung, Tainan etc to use Hanyu and eradicate Tongyong once and for all?[/quote]

I don’t live in Taipei, but I’m curious…has Taipei mayor Ko launched a Tongyong campaign, or has he left the Hanyu signs in place?[/quote]

I haven’t heard anything. Ko doesn’t strike me as a dogmatic person to pursue this kind of nonsense.


#6

[quote=“allan_chang”][quote=“Dog’s_Breakfast”][quote=“Mawvellous”]
But the government could in theory change all the highway signs back to Tongyong!

How about getting Kaohsiung, Tainan etc to use Hanyu and eradicate Tongyong once and for all?[/quote]

I don’t live in Taipei, but I’m curious…has Taipei mayor Ko launched a Tongyong campaign, or has he left the Hanyu signs in place?[/quote]

I haven’t heard anything. Ko doesn’t strike me as a dogmatic person to pursue this kind of nonsense.[/quote]

No, Ko has stuck with Hanyu. Even the new DPP mayors in Taoyuan and Taichung are sticking with Hanyu. But the South is still Tongyong land…


#7

Seeing as foreigners are virtually the only people on the island who rely on pinyin in any form around the island, they should just do a poll of foreigners to find out which they prefer and switch to that one island-wide (Hanyu pinyin would win in a land-slide, of course).

I say that rather tongue-in-cheek…but really they should. lol…


#8

I honestly don’t care which Pinyin system they use. Neither is really better than the other. You are arguing about 6-8 minor spelling changes. Jh instead of Zh and the like.

BUT PICK ONE AND STAY WITH IT! Currently Hanyu is the official. Don’t change and hopefully the south will switch sometime.


#9

[quote=“Abacus”]I honestly don’t care which Pinyin system they use. Neither is really better than the other. You are arguing about 6-8 minor spelling changes. Jh instead of Zh and the like.

BUT PICK ONE AND STAY WITH IT! Currently Hanyu is the official. Don’t change and hopefully the south will switch sometime.[/quote]

What’s to stop the south to not change in hopes of the North switching sometime as well? :stuck_out_tongue:

Totally agree which system is irrelevant, with the just pick 1 system and stick with it. However, if both systems suck equally, the only way to break the tie is with a new system that would offer additional benefits, preferably one that can cover all of Taiwan’s native languages.

Picking Pinyin wouldn’t help Taiwan much in terms of attracting foreign talents. it’s the money and the policies that’s forcing people away from Taiwan, not 6-8 minor spelling differences.


#10

[quote=“hansioux”][quote=“Abacus”]I honestly don’t care which Pinyin system they use. Neither is really better than the other. You are arguing about 6-8 minor spelling changes. Jh instead of Zh and the like.

BUT PICK ONE AND STAY WITH IT! Currently Hanyu is the official. Don’t change and hopefully the south will switch sometime.[/quote]

What’s to stop the south to not change in hopes of the North switching sometime as well? :stuck_out_tongue:

Totally agree which system is irrelevant, with the just pick 1 system and stick with it. However, if both systems suck equally, the only way to break the tie is with a new system that would offer additional benefits, preferably one that can cover all of Taiwan’s native languages.

Picking Pinyin wouldn’t help Taiwan much in terms of attracting foreign talents. it’s the money and the policies that’s forcing people away from Taiwan, not 6-8 minor spelling differences.[/quote]

  1. We’ve already had this discussion, but I still don’t see how a phonetic (or nearly phonetic) system could cover Mandarin AND Taiwan’s major native languages without being overly complicated and/or introducing symbols that aren’t readily identifiable by most foreigners.

  2. I also think there is a clear winner in which romanization is superior for Taiwan…and that is Hanyu Pinyin. Not because it has any inherent phonetic advantages over Tongyong (although I think Hok did make a good argument in its favor that I certainly side with), but because it is the international standard, is found in a large majority of Chinese learning materials, is found in nearly all tourist and travel materials, and is the romanization that foreigners are most likely to be familiar with. The fact that those things are true and the fact that it is a perfectly functional system is enough to convince me that it is the obvious and most logical way to go for Taiwan’s future.

When native Taiwanese talk about this, they tend to put it into an ideological context, trying to consider Taiwan’s history, variety of language, politics, etc. They can do that because they don’t use it. The people that use it care about consistency, simplicity, and familiarity. That’s all.


#11

[quote=“Taiwanguy”]

  1. I also think there is a clear winner in which romanization is superior for Taiwan…and that is Hanyu Pinyin. Not because it has any inherent phonetic advantages over Tongyong (although Hok did make a good argument in its favor that I certainly side with), but because it is the international standard, is found in a large majority of Chinese learning materials, is found in nearly all tourist and travel materials, and is the romanization that foreigners are more likely to be familiar with. The fact that those things are true and the fact that it is a perfectly functional system is enough to convince me that it is the obvious and most logical way to go for Taiwan’s future.[/quote]

Chinese isn’t written with romanizations, so for the purpose of location and people’s names, all we need is just a consistent system for transcription.

If standard is all that important, I’d say the standard for writing Chinese is simplified Chinese, and people should argue that Taiwan should make that switch as well.

Back to a standard for transcribing location and people’s names, that’s important, but unless you want Taiwan to be a place where Mandarin Chinese is the only national language, a system that can accommodate all native languages of Taiwan could let people use their tribal names and traditional village names, location names and have everyone else be able to pronounce and recognize them. It will only be possible if that standard is taught at school.

That’s a standard that Taiwan needs. Taiwan needs to find itself because it can attract any kind of foreign interest. People can always just go to China if all Taiwan wants to do is pass it off as China.


#12

I think you are seeing things to narrowly. Loads of foreigners travel to China and learn a but of Pinyin first. Ah, I cant be bothered to argue, but for the sake of the big noses, everything would be simpler with a standard Chinese romanization.


#13

Sure, if Taiwan is to continue with Mandarin dominant policies, then it would. I’m hoping that Taiwan will encourage diversity rather than suppress it. I happen to find that believing Romanization is and will always be only useful to foreigners is seeing things narrowly, not the other way around.

Other than the mess of everyone choosing their own romanization, the Taiwanese’s lack of any romanization knowledge seems to be another major complaint. The only way that the Taiwanese people would actually all learn a romanization system is for that system to be useful to them as well.


#14

Sure, if Taiwan is to continue with Mandarin dominant policies, then it would. I’m hoping that Taiwan will encourage diversity rather than suppress it. I happen to find that believing Romanization is and will always be only useful to foreigners is seeing things narrowly, not the other way around.

Other than the mess of everyone choosing their own romanization, the Taiwanese’s lack of any romanization knowledge seems to be another major complaint. The only way that the Taiwanese people would actually all learn a romanization system is for that system to be useful to them as well.[/quote]

It is useful to them, I can type much faster with Pinyin that Taiwanese can with Bopomofo. All of my professors in Taiwan who studied in the West, switched to Pinyin as an input method.


#15

Sure, if Taiwan is to continue with Mandarin dominant policies, then it would. I’m hoping that Taiwan will encourage diversity rather than suppress it. I happen to find that believing Romanization is and will always be only useful to foreigners is seeing things narrowly, not the other way around.

Other than the mess of everyone choosing their own romanization, the Taiwanese’s lack of any romanization knowledge seems to be another major complaint. The only way that the Taiwanese people would actually all learn a romanization system is for that system to be useful to them as well.[/quote]

I don’t know if I completely get where you are going with these thoughts. Are you suggesting that Taiwan not use a romanization just for transcribing Chinese characters, but actually use it as a written language in lieu of Chinese characters? That way the written language of Taiwan could accommodate native language romanization as well?

If so… Wow… That’s a pretty lofty goal.

It’s my opinion that a country needs an official language and whether we like it or not Mandarin is clearly the most widely spoken language on the island. It only seems reasonable for it to continue to be the official language. To change that would require significant time and economic investment.


#16

Wife’s coworker had to put off booking her tickets for the company retreat until she got home to check her passport because she couldn’t remember the “English spelling” of her name. I’m apparently the only person who thinks there is a problem with that.

When basically 99.9% of your population doesn’t know how to write their own addresses in Latin letters, there is a problem with the country’s education system.


#17

Wife’s coworker had to put off booking her tickets for the company retreat until she got home to check her passport because she couldn’t remember the “English spelling” of her name. I’m apparently the only person who thinks there is a problem with that.

When basically 99.9% of your population doesn’t know how to write their own addresses in Latin letters, there is a problem with the country’s education system.[/quote]

As per my Taiwanese friend’s passport, she is not her parents’ daughter… The gummit changes the system faster than me changing my shirt on a hot day, so why learn it? I assume the same attitude -why learn something that is not consistent/will not be enforced/is not used widely?


#18

[quote=“Taiwanguy”]
Are you suggesting that Taiwan not use a romanization just for transcribing Chinese characters, but actually use it as a written language in lieu of Chinese characters?[/quote]

No. I’m saying the only time choosing one romanization over the other would matter is if that’s the case. Otherwise, if it remains as a tool to assist people to learn Chinese phonetics and use as a location, people name transcription tool, then all we need is a fixed system throughout the island.

Having the romanization accommodate other native languages is not in conflict with using Hanji, so I am not sure why you would draw that conclusion. If such a system exists, then I would like to see it replace Zhuyin in schools, that way kids would learn how to romanize Mandarin at the same time learn how to pronounce other written native languages of Taiwan as well.

it’s a lofty goal with or without doing away with Hanji, which I’m not a proponent of. However, I find such a system is what Taiwan really needs.

[quote=“Taiwanguy”]
It’s my opinion that a country needs an official language and whether we like it or not Mandarin is clearly the most widely spoken language on the island. It only seems reasonable for it to continue to be the official language. To change that would require significant time and economic investment.[/quote]

A country can have multiple official languages, many countries in the world have more than one official languages, and their countries are better for it. By the way, if you don’t know, I count Mandarin as a native language of Taiwan.


#19

[quote=“hansioux”]
No. I’m saying the only time choosing one romanization over the other would matter is if that’s the case. Otherwise, if it remains as a tool to assist people to learn Chinese phonetics and use as a location, people name transcription tool, then all we need is a fixed system throughout the island.[/quote]

I really don’t understand why it doesn’t matter which one is chosen. If we are solely using a romanization to assist people in learning Chinese and to use as a transcription tool, it still makes sense to chose the romanization that most non-native Chinese speakers or non-Chinese speakers (the only people who make regular use of the romanization and transcriptions) are readily familiar with: Hanyu Pinyin.

As one of the large number of foreigners on this island that utilized Hanyu Pinyin when learning the language, I would accept a standardized Tongyong system being universal throughout the country, but it would be unfamiliar and I would have to do a bit of research in order to make sure I know exactly what sounds are being transcribed. If Taiwan made Hanyu Pinyin universal, I would instantaneously know which sound is being transcribed every time (without the tones, of course). I’m not unique. Virtually all Chinese-speaking foreigners in Taiwan are in the same boat.

So yeah, Tongyong kind of gets the job done…but Hanyu Pinyin gets it done with additional advantages that Tongyong doesn’t have (it’s very wide familiarity among Chinese-learners).

If Taiwan goes with Tongyong, foreigners that would like to be able to type in Chinese would still have to learn either Hanyu Pinyin or Zhuyin since I am unaware of any decent Tongyong input for Windows or Mac. Perhaps they exist but I doubt they are very well developed and also doubt that there are more than a handful of people in the world actually using them. Also, foreigners learning Chinese would still likely have to learn Hanyu Pinyin since a LARGE majority of Chinese learning materials utilize it.

Again, yeah, Tongyong can be used to transcribe Chinese just fine…But why would one choose it over Hanyu Pinyin when there are so many additional advantages to using Hanyu Pinyin? You could kill one bird with one stone using Tongyong, but you could kill a half-dozen birds with one stone using Hanyu Pinyin.


#20

Also, if you are talking about what should be taught to Taiwanese children in school, I think you are debating something completely different. I am talking solely about what Taiwan should use as a transcription device on signage, international documents, etc.

I am not advocating (at least not in this thread…yet) that Taiwanese children should be using Hanyu Pinyin to learn Chinese phonetics in elementary school. That’s not an issue that seems is going to be addressed by the gov’t in the foreseeable future. When we start these pinyin threads on this board, it is usually to whine about the horrible inconsistency in city names, signs, etc. that make it difficult for non-Chinese readers to navigate the island.

Having said that, I hate Zhuyin for similar reasons as I listed above. Yes, Zhuyin certainly functions just fine in helping young children to get a grasp of Chinese phonetics…But that’s the ONLY function it has. Once you grow up, you can, for the most part, throw it out the window (except for typing). A romanized phonetic system using the Latin alphabet can also function fine in teaching Chinese phonetics but also has the additional advantages that it can facilitate communication with the international non-Chinese reading world. I can’t tell you how many foreigners have expressed to me how nice it is to be able to go to mainland China, write down an address in Latin characters and have a taxi driver instantly know where it is. That just doesn’t happen in Taiwan because the Taiwanese learn a phonetic system that uses symbols that are every bit as foreign to non-Chinese readers as Chinese characters are. I think that’s pretty dumb.