Return of Pinyin Wars


I’ve met loads who know Hanyu. Mainly from living in China or studying abroad. Would say most academics know it


In Spanish, we have the standards set by the Royal Academy of teh Spanish Language, basically, to agre on how to write stuff or proper grammar. Because when you have a billion people mangling the same language, with regional accents and lexicon and usage, you need some standard to follow for politeness, so you can be understood.

I always compare teh Mainlanders to the Spanish criollos. I mean, you have this mayority, in our case, lighter skin. Mot people descend from one Indigenous female and one Spanish male -don’t wanna know the details about that, with African and Asian thrown in for good measure - like yours truly. There was a need to justify the conquest based on religion -in Taiwan’s case, based on te fight against Communism-, cultural domination -well, massacre, and eventually, teh dominated identify with the dominator - like the civil servants/military who deny or denigrate their Southern roots because they had to pledge alliance to the Party/State first many years ago. That the taiwanese are starting to pull away from this mentality, regaining their history, revaluing their autonomy and cultural authenticity, is loable.

But denying use of hanyu pinyin is shooting themselves in teh foot, just as rejecting use of English. What is necessary is to take away the cultural domination teeth off these tigers and subjugate them to the cause, use them for what they are: tools. Don’t make them into cargo cults or supernatural forces that will take you over. Use them as you use a computer. I always told that to my students. Make them work for you. You do not have to become gringo and choose hamburgers over houguo because you need to learn English. Same for hanyu.


I was taught using this kind of learning. Our Shida teacher told us NOT to practice with Taiwanese “as they spoke badly”. I often wondered then why we were here at all. We were also taught less stuff as whities “because you do not understand and will never learn”, like how to use the dictionary or type in Chinese -which they taught our Asian or Overseas compatriots. Trying to learn about the local culture or Chinese culture in general got us “you shoudn’t know about that” -like me referring to a Taiwanese hakka pal showing us her ancestral tablets and other pratices. In summary, they made us feel very unwelcome and really killed the thirst for learning. On top of that, hanyu was anathema, making our learning curve an Everest of pain.


Well, screw Shida then. One-on-one language exchange is the way to go. But, what about learning materials?


Ah. Academics. The people who think they matter.

Yes, those who travel to the land of the gongfei learn Hanyu. I’m told it’s because they really hate the simplified characters, which are considered ugly.

Now what’s that I saw all over the place on the Gaosiong subway? Cleveland of the Orient, yes. Cleveland before the rust belt days. A town where they work in big smelly factories doing useful stuff.

Everything that’s a proper noun and that may come to the attention of foreigners should have an English/Western name, and one way to spell it. The rest is just details. People do it. Companies do it. Why shouldn’t towns do it? There are worse things than having two official names.


Tongyong Pinyin has a silver lining.

Both sides can avoid friendly fire by not using characters! :smiley:


To reitterate, here are some points to consider.

  1. Taiwanese and Chinese speak differently and write differently, just like Dutch and German speak and write differently.

  2. It’s up to individual places, neighbourhoods, and persons to name themselves, and to change their names as they see fit. It is perfectly normal for different persons to prefer one type of romanization of his name over another. For example, one may prefer a kind of spelling of his transliterated name to appear more “natural (or easy)” to native speakers of Vietnamese than to native speakers of Russian. He may register a URL, and he may register a trademark, and he may want the URL and trademark to share the same spelling, and he comes to the conclusion to not give a f about Pinyin.

  3. The Hanji system as we know today is mostly phonetic. There is no rule that says a certain Hanji must be pronounced in only one way. Hanji glyphs were created and added over hundreds of years spontaneously by people who spoke differently languages. The relation between the visual form and the pronunciation is a many-to-many relation.


Here we are again. Do Taiwanese speak Mandarin at all, or is Guoyu a special language that should be called “Taiwandarin” in English because it’s not the same as Minnan (or whatever you want to call it) yet also not the same as what the rest of the world calls Mandarin (except Hongkongers who oddly call Putonghua)?

According to everyone other than the TP brigade, no.

Dutch and German are separate languages. Amsterdam is bilingual: Dutch and English. The average person there speaks English with a Dutch accent but doesn’t feel the need to say that makes Dutchglish (or whatever) a distinct language that should have its own spelling. If they made German official they would have no need to reinvent it as Gerdutch (or whatever).

Of course characters are pronounced differently in Minnan, in Yue, in Wu, and so on. That’s wonderful. How does it have any relevance to how Mandarin should be transcribed?


The Danes and Swedes speak and write differently. Too frustrated to learn two languages, but it’s okay, you can use one single transliteration since you speak Pinyin.


What language(s) do Taiwanese actually speak?


Most Taiwanese speak Guoyu and Taigi.

If you just utter Guoyu or Taigi and wave your index finger at the same time, most Taiwanese would know you don’t speak the language we speak. You can still pay cash, and there’s a commercial transaction happening, and the quality of life of both you and your counterpart is improved.


[quote=“sofun, post:212, topic:87309, full:true”]
Most Taiwanese speak Guoyu and Taigi.

If you just utter Guoyu or Taigi and wave your index finger at the same time, most Taiwanese would know you don’t speak the language we speak.[/quote]
“When we say ni hao, it’s Guoyu. When you say ni hao, it’s not Guoyu.”

Brilliant logic. :slight_smile:


What’s going to happen to you when you travel through Denmark and Sweden? I wonder if your Pinyin brain will be switched off automatically




Now that’s a good argument for Tongyong. Or Wade-Giles. Or a completely new system. Anything but Hanyu.

Hanyu is for commies and serfs. So is Mandarin, come to think of it. At least Guoyu has begun to diverge from Putonghua.


Exactly. The only people I ever hear saying ni hao are foreigners.


Scandinavians are way ahead in the English game, so why worry? :smile:

Consider the case of Ireland. It’s an island nation. It has a colonial history and so on… And the mother tongue of the majority is English, while the “national” language is Gaelic.

The Irish send their children to special boot camps to learn Gaelic because it’s important for cultural reasons. They have it enshrined in their constitution. They persuaded the EU to make it official (though it sort of slipped their minds for a while).

So, leaving the Scottish question aside, they have their own language, which facilitates their great pastime of wallowing in their Irishness (not that there’s anything wrong with that), yet they still speak English in everyday life. Speaking English – not a pidgin but a dialect of English that, by 21st century standards, the average well educated person from any country can understand – gives them an economic advantage over many other countries.

With all their centuries of having a difficult relationship with England, do they feel the need to make “Irnglish” a thing? The accent is a thing, to be sure, just like it is with the English spoken in any other English speaking country. Yet for some strange reason, they seem to be content leaving English pretty much the way it is, rather than changing the spelling to something that most people (including themselves) would find unreadable.

Jia you Aierlan! :grinning:


[quote=“rowland, post:216, topic:87309, full:true”]
Hanyu is for commies and serfs.[/quote]
Which one of those groups runs the Library of Congress?

(I won’t get started on the UN, since you already have your own thread for that.)


nihao almost always follows Hi or Hallo. “Hi Nihao / Hallo Nihao” is the way we’d say it. It’s the equivalence of “nice to meet you” For introduction only. After that it’s 99% Hallo.