Romanization issues float to the surface... again


#1

The Taiwan News, coming out in favour of the Tongyong Pinyin System, had this editorial on Saturday, a piece that I feel was ill-considered. Here is my response to the editor:

Sir,
Your editorial of June 23rd regarding the romanization issue in Taiwan contains several fallacies. First, you state that foreigners must respect and learn the way the way Taiwan chooses to alphabetically represent the sounds of Mandarin, even if that means using Tongyong Pinyin. I disagree, since the way foreign languages are Sinicized in Taiwan and China - that is to say the way a foreign word or place name like Toronto becomes “Duo-lun-duo” - seems to be pretty much a unilateral process. All foreign words that have no natural equivalent in Chinese are given a translation pretty much randomly, even whimsically, and original pronunciations, and even titles and names are unilaterally changed by Chinese speakers, often to the point where the meaning changes completely. (Witness the corruption of the title of Sophie Marceau’s recent movie “Infidelit


#2

Good for you writing a letter. I hope it makes it. This seems to me to be a really important issue that runs a huge risk of having such a patently wrong resolution.

I think every foreigner who’s given it any thought realises that Pinyin is the best option.

I think you raised an important point in that almost the only advantage of Tongyong that I’ve heard is that it better reflects other Taiwanese language, but it’s kind of crazy to have one system of phoneticisation for more than one different language.

Personally I prefer bopomofo to pinyin, but it’s a matter of the standard system not the optimal system. The dvorak keyboard is better than the qwerty, beta is better than vhs, and it would be so very easy to better standardise the spelling of English words. However the important thing is to use a system that non-Taiwanese students of Chinese are going to be able to understand and will also allow Taiwanese students to understand the phoneticisation when they are out of Taiwan.

You made another important point. Advocates of Tongyong claim that it is largely compatible with pinyin as it is 90% (or something) similar. Actually this is about as useful as being 20%similar. It means that if you don’t know it you can’t be sure that you’re pronouncing a word wrong. Like I would guess that Wade-Giles is 80% simlar to pinyin, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to pronounce a street signs ‘ch’ correctly 80% of the time if I don’t know whether it’s a pinyin ‘zh’, ‘ch’ or ‘q’. Taht’s one of the biggest problems, when you don’t know waht system is being used, which is so often the case - ie when reading a single Chinese name in an English language piece.

Is there any way for us to affect the decision? I hope we can have some influence.

Bri


#3

Even the airlines, well at least EVA’s local airline, do not use Hanyu Pinyin. My Chinese name on my boarding card was in one of the many systems used on Taiwan street signs. I guess that will change when (if?) there are direct links with the mainland.

For a “ridiculous” idea. How about a NEW Pinyin that recognises that English is the most COMMONLY USED language in the world. Out with the “tz” “c”'s etc.

The local press has been casting about figures based on “first” language, presumably derived from the official language of country’s populations, which places English about 2nd equal with Spanish, after Manderin.

I would suggest that nothing like 100% of the population of China speaks Mandarin. On the other hand there are an awful lot of people in this world who speak English in addition to the official language of their country.

Would the pressure for Tongyong quickly disappear if there was no need for Taiwan to differentiate itself from the PRC? Lets have all the signs the same, in an internationally recognised system, at least.


#4

Taiwan’s messed-up romanization is my number one pet peeve, so much so that I started (and still haven’t finished ) a website about it.
Maoman’s right on every point, though I wish he’d added the fact that the often-cited 85 percent similarity between tongyong and hanyu pinyin is – like so many other claims of the tongyong camp – complete bullshit. I’ll add references to back this up later.

Rian mentioned the many systems. The street signs are, as everyone knows, a complete babel. Here are a few of the “systems” that can be found:

  • bastardized Wade-Giles (i.e. Wade-Giles with all of the apostrophes left out, often making it useless); this is what's most commonly seen on the streets of Taiwan.
  • real Wade-Giles. Seldom seen. Because of the prevalence of bastardized W-G, it is impossible to trust these signs as correct.
  • Chinese postal system (e.g. Nanking for Nanjing)
  • mistakes. Oh, there are lots and lots of these. One example: Patch Rd. (for Bade Rd.).
  • English (e.g. Civic Blvd., Roosevelt Rd.)
  • [i]previous[/i] versions of tongyong. Yes, that's right: The tongyong on some of the street signs of Taipei is [i]not[/i] the same as the present version. What a joke!

Here are some not-yet-completed notes about Taiwan’s romanization mess: www.romanization.com/tongyong/qanda.html


#5

Hm…I don’t have deep thoughts like all you peepz on romanization. I mean you guys are supported with all these great logical facts. So here goes for my opinion.
First of all, I agree that Hanyu Pinyin since most internationally accepted/practiced should be the standard.
Second, I think that this Tongyong Pinyin is an attempt to emphsize the Taiwan identity and separate it from China. Cuz I think any academic in their right mind would know so.


#6

All right, Maoman! The letter made today’s paper. It looks complete; but I didn’t read carefully to make sure.

The links at the Taiwan News site aren’t correct, so use this one: www.etaiwannews.com/Opinion/2001/06/28/993696941.htm


#7

I have to add one point to this thread. It is true that Hanyu Pinyin is the international standard. This does not just mean it is used in China and in teaching Chinese to people in western countries. Other places in Asia use it too. Singapore is a good example, and I think most Singaporeans are about as willing to be from seen as being from the PRC as people from Taiwan’s “jian guo dang” (Taiwanese independence party). Using pinyin no more make Taiwan look like a part of the PRC than using English makes other countries look like a part of the UK.
Also in regards to Rian’s point about the fact that many people in the PRC do not speak “guoyu” (or “zhongwen” or whatever you like to call it) plenty of people in other countries do, eg in Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia etc I have often found myself speaking Chinese when more people spoke it well than English.


#8

I just read an opinion piece in the Taiwan News saying that foreigners should observe “international etiquette” and butt out of the Pinyin debate:
http://www.etaiwannews.com/Opinion/2001/07/03/994122513.htm

Of course the implication is that Taiwan’s unanimous choice is Tongyong Pinyin (which the writer, one Mr. Liang Rongmao, refers to as Taiwan Pinyin) and that all Taiwanese oppose Hanyu Pinyin (erroneously referred to as China Pinyin). Mr. Liang says that he hopes foreigners “will not involve themselves too readily in issues closely related to political ideology, such as language issues”.
Wow. So, I guess as a resident of Taiwan for some 12 years, I should just keep my big trap shut. God forbid I should be treated as a tax-paying resident living under the constitution of the R.O.C.!

Every once in a while I get depressed with this “them and us” business… Everything is “Women Zhongguoren/Taiwanren, Nimen Waiguoren…” as if there were only two groups of people in the world. You never even hear the word “foreigner” in North America, unless you’re talking about bad 80’s bands… ~sigh~ Christine, you gotta bring back rants and raves… I need to vent…


#9

That opinion piece was just so apalling. I haven’t read anything which adresses the main point. What language is Tongyong phoneticising?

That guy said “Taiwan Pinyin (Tongyong Pinyin) is a better way of romanization for the Taiwanese, while Hanyu Pinyin(China Pinyin)is a better way of romanization for the Chinese”. If he’d just left out “the”. It might have made sense. Use Hanyu Pinyin for Chinese (language) and Tongyong for Taiwanese (language). It is absolutely ridiculous to use one system for more than one language. I would seriously like to hear how they propose to do this. Does anyone know? I don’t think anyone even realises that this is an issue.

Also he said “Some foreigners in Taiwan have been confidently saying that they support Hanyu Pinyin because it is an international standard. In reality, this isn’t completely true. Apart from those in the People’s Republic of China, foreigners around the world do not know China Hanyu Pinyin”. Again blatantly wrong. Students of Chinese _everywhere except Taiwan use Hanyu Pinyin.

Is it too late for me to submit something to the News?

Bri


#10

Hmmm, let’s try to rephrase dear old Mr. Liang’s … ahem … balanced and objective piece.
Would it be so very far removed from “we Chinese are smarter than you foreigners?” I don’t think so.
You see, this issue has got NOTHING to do with the relative merits of either system and everything to do with the xenophobic bigotry – oops, sorry, of course I meant to write “national pride” – of a certain section of society here.
By the way Liang, why on earth are you writing to a dirty foreigner’s paper if this is how you feel? Surely the best way to avoid the argument being polluted by barbarian filth would be to discuss the whole thing in a Chinese-language paper.


#11

Below are some great quotes from various people on Hanyu Pinyin vs TongYongPinyin -the new unifying Taiwan phonetic system:

Maoman: [list=A ]

  • Popularity of Hanyu Pinyin: The Chinese-language student population is also much more familiar with Hanyu Pinyin than with any other romanization system. Practically all Mandarin texts, dictionaries and phrasebooks use Hanyu Pinyin.
  • one-size-fits-all; What is TongYong Pinyin: An alphabet intended to cover Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, Paiwan, Tsou, Atayal, Saisiyat, Yami and Ami, in addition to other aboriginal languages, If Tongyong Pinyin is to be the first phonetic system to cover not one, but a myriad of disparate languages, I believe we need to see more substantiation.
  • Westerners/Learners seem to adapt quite well to different pronunciation requirements of differing phonetic alphabet systems.
  • Taiwan does not need a different phonetic system to the rest of the world/China for the sake of being different..
  • Taiwan does a lot of business with China [/list]

    Bu Lai En: The important thing is to use a system that non-Taiwanese students of Chinese are going to be able to understand and will also allow Taiwanese students to understand the phoneticisation when they are out of Taiwan

    Rian: Lets have all the signs the same, in an internationally recognised system

    cyfhsu: First of all, I agree that Hanyu Pinyin since most internationally accepted/practiced should be the standard. Second, I think that this Tongyong Pinyin is an attempt to emphsize the Taiwan identity and separate it from China.

    naguoning: Hanyu Pinyin is the international standard.

    Mr. Liang: he hopes foreigners “will not involve themselves too readily in issues closely related to political ideology, such as language issues”.

    Bu Lai En: It is absolutely ridiculous to use one system for more than one language.

    sandman: You see, this issue has got NOTHING to do with the relative merits of either system and everything to do with the xenophobic bigotry – oops, sorry, of course I meant to write “national pride” – of a certain section of society here.

    I am just testing out this posting system.
    The window is abit small but the UBB code buttons are not hard to understand.

    I do have something to add to this subject.
    Xin Hua Zidian (Xin Hua Dictionary) probably the most widely used dictionary on the mainland or in China; 380 million copies sold since 1957, now shows both simplified and traditional characters. In addition each character is also followed by pinyin AND zhuyin (Taiwanese pobomofo symbols) for help with pronunciation.

    At least the academia on the mainland/in China, does not attach to much political significance to phonetic systems.

    If Taiwan wants to invent a whole new phonetic system to establish a political “identity” then so be it, it is her right.

    One argument is worth repeating: This TongYong Pinyin does not seem to be based on sound phonetic foundations. ie It is not like the intentions of other known phonetic systems where the “one-one mapping” of spelling to sound is as far as possible kept consistent, and the sound describes a single target language. If Tongyong Pinyin actually works, it will be a world’s first consistent “written” system which maps to various spoken systems.

    Right now Taiwan has much more urgent issues to attend to in the form of a deteriorating economy, massive unemployment, world recession; the Taiwan’s stock market is down 50% since 12 months ago and will be going down some more.

    The Governement should be giving the economy and establishing better ties with China as “top” priority. Taiwan is China’s biggest foreign investor (USD $70 billion and counting) and China is growing at around 7.5% GDP per annum currently.

    Tongyong Pinyin will be an embarassement to any government that pursues it.


  • #12

    As I predicted when the Taiwan News came out with their call for “comments” on romanization(in the other romanization thread), they are just using this whole activity to promote their position in favor of Tongyong.

    See today’s editorial: http://www.etaiwannews.com/Editorial/2001/08/01/996636941.htm

    This doesn’t surprise me, since the Taiwan News has long since ceased to be a real newspaper and is basically a DPP pamphlet that ignores reality and holds its opinion up and calls it “news.” The fact that they’ve fired most of the foreign copyeditors as well as the foreign editor in chief, the fact that a political officer from I-mei dictates their content, and the fact of their upcoming move into the I-mei offices can only hasten their downfall and remove the respect anyone ever had for their ‘coverage’.
    (I am not saying the other papers are that much better. In fact, the Taipei Times isn’t much better as far as content goes, but survives due to its attractive layout and funding from the Liberty Times group, which also dictates its content, and the China Post doesn’t even have the funding for a decent layout or even decent copyediting, it seems).
    In any case, the above editorial, as well as the other one telling foreigners to butt out of a romanization issue which involves foreigners, make it perfectly clear that there is not one brain left operating at the News. They’ve used up any credibility left over from back when the China News was a half-decent paper.


    #13

    I stand by my support for TongYong PinYin. I feel that most of the foreigners supporting Hanyu (China’s) Pinyin do not fully understand the Cold War poltical struggle that occurs daily between Taiwan and China.

    Cheers to Taiwan for having some pride with this small victory over the Pro-China political forces of the PFP and KMT, Soong, Ma and Lien. Cheers to the Taiwan News for holding up this Taiwanese romanization system, TongYong Pinyin.

    Finally, TongYong if truely analyzed by China PinYin lovers is in fact the superior system as it is more accessible to first timers, which is what we are truely talking about. I hope they change all of the signs to the newest version of TongYong before the next person visits me in Taiwan. It will be easier for them. If they had to read China Pinyin oh my, it would be such a headache for me to explain how to prounouce the signs. I am sure they would end up asking me why Taiwan would ever use such a screwed up system like that China PinYin?! TongYong is the way to go!!

    Who among the HanYu pinyin supporters also supports Simplified Chinese? Is that a standard too? Why are you guys so passionate about this? Do you really want Taiwan to join the world or just join China? This pinyin debate should not be of so much concern to you guys. Having one standard in Taiwan should be however, but not one world standard.

    Keep your Hanyu pinyin, in Taiwan TongYong pinyin is the way to go. Do you even use PinYin? Why do you even care? Are you too slow to be able to switch between Hanyu PinYin and TongYong PinYin when you travel to China? You must5 be really lazy or stupid if you can’t learn TongYong as it is easier than HanYu pinyin. If you really loved Taiwan and cared about it, you would not wish a Communist Chinese system on them and give the PRC one more excuse to say see, Taiwan is a part of China. Don’t be saying that Hanyu Pinyin is an international standard, is that the only lame argument you have? Do you want the internationally recognized Simplified characters for Taiwan too? Do you want one country two systems too? Come on, students can still learn HanYu in schools around the world. Students can even choose to learn Chinese with HanYu Pinyin in Taiwan. This only about street signs, get a grip. The UN is not going to say, adopt HanYu PinYin and we will let you become a member. But China will say something something to the effect of look at little Taiwan adopting HanYu PinYin, more proof that they are a part of China. Actually they have already said something to this effect. Want the quote?


    #14
    quote[quote] If you really loved Taiwan and cared about it, you would not wish a Communist Chinese system on them and give the PRC one more excuse to say see, Taiwan is a part of China. [/quote]

    Come on, Hobart, this is a free society, not China. I am sure that Tongyong Pinyin Supporters love Taiwan. Is there no room in your philosophy to allow for the fact that maybe the same holds true for people who prefer Hanyu Pinyin? In your Utopia, is there no possibility for dissent and differing schools of thought?

    My grandparents were victims of communist oppression in Europe at the time of the Russian Revolution and told me in great detail the horrors that they witnessed. I am no lover of the “red menace”, but I don’t feel that I must defend my character or my loyalty to Taiwan on account of what I feel is a superior way of romanizing Mandarin.

    I understand very clearly that mainland China would be pleased by the official implementation of Hanyu Pinyin. I also know they are pleased that Mandarin is still the official language of Taiwan. Are we so insecure that we have to deny Taiwan’s (mostly) mainland origins? I think that even though the KMT has historically suppressed local Taiwanese identity in favour of promoting a Chinese identity doesn’t mean that we now have to go to the other extreme. Isn’t the beauty and richness of Chinese culture, history and language something that can be shared by all Chinese people and aficionados of Chinese culture without expressing approval of one regime or the other? I know the CCP would like to confuse the issue. They would have us believe that love for one’s country is inextricably tied up with love for one’s government, and the policies of that government. Please tell me that you don’t buy into this too, Hobart. We’re better than that, aren’t we?


    #15

    I wanted to reply to this point by point; here goes:

    Originally posted by Hobart:

    null"I stand by my support for TongYong PinYin. I feel that most of the foreigners supporting Hanyu (China’s) Pinyin do not fully understand the Cold War poltical struggle that occurs daily between Taiwan and China."

    Ok, you feel this way, but why? I think many of the foreigners who support Hanyu pinyin actually have a pretty firm grasp of the political situation. I think I do, too.

    .“Cheers to Taiwan for having some pride with this small victory over the Pro-China political forces of the PFP and KMT, Soong, Ma and Lien. Cheers to the Taiwan News for holding up this Taiwanese romanization system, TongYong Pinyin.”

    Yes, we all know you hate James Soong, et al. This is irrelevant.

    “Finally, TongYong if truely analyzed by China PinYin lovers is in fact the superior system as it is more accessible to first timers, which is what we are truely talking about. I hope they change all of the signs to the newest version of TongYong before the next person visits me in Taiwan. It will be easier for them. If they had to read China Pinyin oh my, it would be such a headache for me to explain how to prounouce the signs. I am sure they would end up asking me why Taiwan would ever use such a screwed up system like that China PinYin?! TongYong is the way to go!!”

    Another hypothetical situation. I sincerely doubt someone coming to Taiwan would see Tongyong signs and fluent Chinese would come rolling out of their mouths. Neither would they if signs were in Hanyu Pinyin. It’s a subjective guess, at best, to claim either one is better for the newcomer, etc. Still, which system is more likely to be familiar to the visitor from previous experience in the romanization of Chinese in other countries? Hanyu Pinyin, of course.

    “Who among the HanYu pinyin supporters also supports Simplified Chinese? Is that a standard too? Why are you guys so passionate about this? Do you really want Taiwan to join the world or just join China? This pinyin debate should not be of so much concern to you guys. Having one standard in Taiwan should be however, but not one world standard.”

    It’s a romanization system, which means it is for the use of the international community to deal with the Chinese language. That means a world standard. And yes, we want Taiwan to join the world. That’s not so bad is it?

    “Keep your Hanyu pinyin, in Taiwan TongYong pinyin is the way to go. Do you even use PinYin? Why do you even care? Are you too slow to be able to switch between Hanyu PinYin and TongYong PinYin when you travel to China? You must5 be really lazy or stupid if you can’t learn TongYong as it is easier than HanYu pinyin. If you really loved Taiwan and cared about it, you would not wish a Communist Chinese system on them and give the PRC one more excuse to say see, Taiwan is a part of China. Don’t be saying that Hanyu Pinyin is an international standard, is that the only lame argument you have? Do you want the internationally recognized Simplified characters for Taiwan too? Do you want one country two systems too? Come on, students can still learn HanYu in schools around the world. Students can even choose to learn Chinese with HanYu Pinyin in Taiwan. This only about street signs, get a grip. The UN is not going to say, adopt HanYu PinYin and we will let you become a member. But China will say something something to the effect of look at little Taiwan adopting HanYu PinYin, more proof that they are a part of China. Actually they have already said something to this effect. Want the quote?”

    Yes, we’ve seen your quote. Many times. I repeat: why should we care what the PRC says or thinks on this? Why do you place so much value on it? Why can’t we choose freely without giving consideration to what the People’s Daily will say? It’s irrelevant.

    I think I would probably be smart enough to figure out a new system if I had to. That’s not the point. Why should I have to learn a new system for the same Chinese? I could learn a different metric system or summerian script, but why should I have to?

    I’m sorry if you don’t think “Hanyu Pinyin is the internationally recognized standard” is a good argument, but calling that argument ‘lame’ isn’t exactly the most effective rebuttal.

    I do love Taiwan and I do care about it, probably more than a lot of people. This is why I want to see Taiwan be more a part of the international community by utilizing the standards of that community for romanizing Chinese. I don’t want to see Taiwan remain a laughingstock of the international community, dismissed due to things like the fact that no one can read any signs here. Taiwan has been looked down on long enough, and it’s time we stopped doing things that cause this kind of reaction.


    #16

    this is only about street signs, says Hobart.

    If that’s true, then Hobart’s arguments sound okay to me.

    But when the Cabinet finally risks controversy by making a decision, it’ll have a wide-ranging impact. And there’s a fair chance incidentally that most street signs won’t change a bit.

    The direct impact will be that the chosen system will be used in all English-language government correspondence and on signs on national highways.

    It’ll almost certainly also be taught in schools alongside Bopomofo.

    In time then, people in Taiwan will be using it whenever they need to communicate in writing with Chinese illiterates – such as when writing and searching on the Internet.

    In as much as romanization is used on the Internet and in official English-language documents (enough to warrant all this posturing and heated debate? I don’t think so), there’s no doubt that Hanyu Pinyin is the better choice.

    But let’s not get carried away by the significance of romanization to the average Taiwanese. What percentage use any system regularly? I guess most only think of it when they’re spelling their or others names. That’s not something people do very often.

    So the arguments of Yu Bor-chuan, who led the team that developed Tongyong Pinyin, and the Taiwan News about the emotional / cultural importance of having a distinct identity is just silly. It might give Mr. Yu and other linguists a warm feeling to use their own system, but hardly anyone else Taiwanese will notice.

    China might try and use a decision by Taiwan for Hanyu Pinyin to strengthen its claims on Taiwan, but I don’t see many minds being moved. The propoganda point surely is that the two sides have the same language.

    Finally, the Cabinet’s chosen system will not necessarily be used on street signs, as most roads are under the control of local governments which have the authority to name them how they wish.

    A decision by the Ministry of Education in 1999 to use Hanyu Pinyin was put on indefinite hold (and then sunk by the KMT election loss the next year), because a dozen local government leaders protested. Last year’s Education Ministry decision for Hanyu Pinyin was likewise shelved by the Cabinet because the elusive consensus beloved of the new government wasn’t evident.

    One compromise could be that Hanyu Pinyin is adopted as the standard, but local governments are allowed to do their own thing on road names – since there’s little the central governmenet can do to stop them anyway.

    And since no romanization system is going to draw fluent Chinese from the mouth of anyone not initiated into the system, it really doesn’t seem to matter which is used on road signs, as long as it’s consistent.


    #17

    Hobart,

    Haven’t you registered ANY of the arguments against Tong Yong? You certainly haven’t rebutted them. Your most recent post is even more ludicrous than the ones before.

    Implementing Tongyong effects foreign students of Chinese in Taiwan more than anyone else. Here are the effects of implementing Tong Yong - or any other system that isn’t the same as the rest of the world - in Taiwan:

    1. The student has to learn ANOTHER system. Their textbooks that they’ve already been using aren’t going to change overnight. Their old ones they use for reference, their dictionaries, class notes and other reference materials aren’t going to change. So they have to know, pinyin, bopomofo, (maybe even Wade Giles and Yale to be very adept) and now Tongyong as well. Why? It’s not going to make things any easier for them. Contrary to what you keep saying Tongyong is not easier or more intuitive. How would you pronounce the tonyong ‘c’ as in ‘ciang’? Like the English ‘ch’? I didn’t think so. How would you pronounce Nancing? Would you even recognise that as a major city in China?

    2. Every time we read a Chinese word in it’s romanised form (because we don’t yet know the character, because the newspaper or book doesn’t give us them, or because the person e-mailing us can’t type Chinese), we have to guess what system they are using before we know what they are talking about. Especially if that word is used in isolation or the newspaper uses more than one system (as for example the Taipei Timese does) it is impossible to know or at the very least takes a little careful detective work - hmmm, was this written in Taiwan or Mainland China? Before 2001? etc etc. This is a crucial point. You often can’t tell just by looking at a word what system they are using. This is NOT like traditional vs simplified characters - if you see simplified characters you know they are simplified characters. It’s like having a different numeral system for phone numbers, but the 2 actually means 5 and vice versa (this is 90% similar) - most of the time you can’t know what number to dial. Ok, I can see you saying “but after an inconvenient transition time Tongyong will be the standard, everyone will use it and you will know it’s Tongyong”. This is wrong. Not evrybpody will use it. Not people who studied elsewhere and still know only pinyin. Not books, magazines or papers, that might be from overseas and you don’t know what system they have chosen to use. This is the mess that we’re in at the moment and it will only go away if Taiwan adopts the same system as the rest of the world.

    3. Seeing as you think the political is the most important factor (and frankly I think Taiwan can handle China latching on to the adoption of ‘their’ pinyin as yet another ludicrous ‘proof’ that Taiwan is part of China - they do this all the time anyway) there are adverse political consequences as well. A student of Chinese in the US or somewhere has just graduated in Chinese (using pinyin) or is taking a summer break from his course and wants to go learn some Chinese in it’s native environment (this happens a lot). His first thought of course is Beijing - it’s the real thing - but then he’s a bit put off by communist lack of freedoms, having to stay in a dormitory, having his relationships with Chinese put under careful watch etc, so he thinks “what about Taiwan - it’s got freedom and western comforts and I can even make a bit of money teaching English on the side”. It’s a tough call, but the deciding factor is that if he goes to Taiwan he’s going to have to learn a new system, and face all the extra confusions and hassles that come with that. Ooops, Taiwan has just lost another potential friend. He loves his time in China of course (as he would have loved his time in Taiwan) and in the future when people argue the Tawian/China issue, he has his persoanl experience about what a great place China is etc etc. Taiwan in it’s efforts to isolate itself from the Mainland just goes and further isolates itself rom the rest of the world. I know form experience that potential students make this kind of decision - I have over the internet reassured people that Shida textbooks also use pinyin, but if that was to be replaced by Tongyong …

    If the Taiwanese government wants to do something nationalistic on the language learning front why not develop a standard romanisation system for Taiwanese (and please it’s not possible that Tongyong can cover more than one language) and a standard Chinese character set for the Taiwanese words that are not covered by Mandarin characters. That would be of huge benefit to foreign students and Tawianese alike.

    Bri


    #18

    Brian,

    Implementing TongYong does not effect students of Chinese in Taiwan.

    1. There is no need for the student to learn another system. In Taiwan, say 3 years ago, which romanization did they use? Was it used in all of the Chinese teaching texts? NO! They use bopomofo or HANYU PINYIN to teach Chinese in Taiwan. I have studied Chinese in my University in the USA and also here in Taiwan at two different places, one a school and the other a University. I used HANYU PINYIN textbooks in all three instances. I told you we are talking about street signs, and for that purpose TongYong is more intuitive for first timers. It is easier than Hanyu Pinyin. You did find one Tongyong weakness in Nanxing or Nancing. But I am not sure if someone who has never studied Chinese could pronounce Nanxing either. But did you know that TongYong is still a work in progress and the creator is working to improve it. How about this example xiang or siang. Ask someone that has never studied Chinese to pronouce those two words and see which one is closer to the real pronouciation. There are many more weakness for the layman in HanYu Pinyin. Remember, I said that HanYu pinyin or BoPoMoFo should stay as a tool for learning the language, but if Taiwan wants to use TongYon Pinyin on the street signs, well I say, good for them. You can ask Cranky Laowai of romanization.com if it is true if tongyong is being refined and changing.

    2. It sounds like you want something that is convienient for you. This was the first argument I brought up in my first post on this issue in another thread. Those that have been taught HanYu Pinyin before, want the convienence of being able to use it in Taiwan as well. But what we are talking about are those people that have never studied Chinese before and again, only street signs. Only a student of Chinese studies HanYu PinYin. I think it was the second lesson just after learning the tones. The layman reading the paper doesn’t anything about this, he will just read what he sees. TongYong works in this case as they won’t know and don’t care which romanization the paper is using. Although I can see where it would be confusing, if a place name in China or the name of someone in China is romanized a different way with TongYong. In this case, I think they should use HanYu pinyin when referring to places and people in China, and TongYong when referring to places in Taiwan. In the case of names, I don’t think they should change the names of the people. PFP Sung? Ma-Ying Jiu? No when Chinese English papers refer to these people I believe they also use the spelling that is used in Taiwan. What about HK’s Tong Chi Hua? We all use the HK way. Places and people should not change. Except places in Taiwan. Although that owuld be confusing as well. JiLung? Hmm…what a conundrum huh? Maybe Taiwan should not change a thing. :slight_smile:

    3. I already pointed out that Taiwan uses either HANYU PINYIN in its classes or BoPoMoFo. So what you said in point three is is an uninformed attempt at finding some justification for your selfish desire to have HanYu PinYin used in Taiwan for your own convienence despitet he political implications, which by the way, you would be totally unnaffected by, as you could simply quit your English teaching job and run back to your home country waving your passport in front of you as rush to the airport. It is no wonder you do not care so much about Taiwan China politics.


    #19
    quote:
    Originally posted by salmon: 1. this is only about street signs, says Hobart.

    If that’s true, then Hobart’s arguments sound okay to me.

    1. The direct impact will be that the chosen system will be used in all English-language government correspondence and on signs on national highways.

    2. It’ll almost certainly also be taught in schools alongside Bopomofo.

    3. In time then, people in Taiwan will be using it whenever they need to communicate in writing with Chinese illiterates – such as when writing and searching on the Internet.

    4. But let’s not get carried away by the significance of romanization to the average Taiwanese. What percentage use any system regularly? I guess most only think of it when they’re spelling their or others names. That’s not something people do very often.

    5. Finally, the Cabinet’s chosen system will not necessarily be used on street signs, as most roads are under the control of local governments which have the authority to name them how they wish.

    6. And since no romanization system is going to draw fluent Chinese from the mouth of anyone not initiated into the system, it really doesn’t seem to matter which is used on road signs, as long as it’s consistent.


  • Thanks for realizing that if this romanization is only for street signs then TongYong is OK.

  • Taiwan would use English in their English language correspondences. If referring to names or places, I believe they would be using the same romanization they have used for so long. They will not change people’s names.

  • 3.They only teach BoPoMoFo and English in the schools in Taiwan. Not Romanization and they won’t start either.

    1. No one uses HanYu Pinyin to search on the internet. They use Chinese characters. I wanted to prove this to you so I typed in two things into Yahoo China in HanYu Pinyin dianshi shouli gongsi and luxing she, Nothing! It doesn’t work. All Chinese speakers whether in Taiwan or China use Chinese characters.

    2. Regarding Taiwanese people’s names. I asked one where they got the spelling of their name. They said when they apply for a passport the government romanizes their name. And no, I strongly believe they will NOT change people’s names.

    3. This is a very interesting point and one I would like to research further. I believe they should have one system island wide. If this is only about Taipei streets signs, then I don’t see why the Central government is involved. I think this debate is ont he national level not a municipal one.

    4. Exactly, it doesn’t matter, so in light of the subtle Cold War struggles between Taiwan and China, us guys with foreign passports, myself included, should layoff the Taiwan government and leave the choice to them. If trouble arises, most of the Hanyu PinYin supporters will be on the first plane out of here.


    #20

    Hobart,

    Who says this is just about street signs. The government is planing on using this for EVERYTHING. Taiwan News has (stupidly) changed already.

    Even if it was just street signs, it’s no better. You simply can’t pronounce a street sign properly unless you’ve learnt the system (wahtever system it is) and know about tones etc anyway, so make it Pinyin which most students know anyway.

    Saying I want pinyin for the selfish reasons of my own convenience is just pathetic. I can read the chracters most of the time anyway. Sure I want pinyin becuase it’s more convenient - more convenient for EVERYBODY THAT WOULD BE USING IT.

    My point about students not coming to Taiwan is valid because in all liklihood (unless Universities succeeded in resisting) they would change it. I don’t know what makes you think Tongyong is supposed to be only for street signs. It’s designed to be used for everything. I even think it might be planned to use it to replace bopomo in schools, although I haven’t been able to find comfirmation of this.

    As for the romanisation of Taiwanese names, you’re right in thinking most people use the romanisation on their passports. But do you know how they get this? They tell the person at the travel agency and that peson writes it down based on their (often pretty loose) understanding of Wade-Giles (or maybe some other system. Actually the applicant could write down their own version if they wanted to, in pinyin or whatever.

    Finally, whatever gives you the right to make these assumptions and turn this argument into a personal attack:

    quote[quote] what you said in point three is is an uninformed attempt at finding some justification for your selfish desire to have HanYu PinYin used in Taiwan for your own convienence despitet he political implications, which by the way, you would be totally unnaffected by, as you could simply quit your English teaching job and run back to your home country waving your passport in front of you as rush to the airport. It is no wonder you do not care so much about Taiwan China politics. [/quote]

    Like you fucking know how much I care about Taiwan. I would be pretty seriously affected by it actually, as my fiancee, her family and many of my good friends don’t have a bolthole (unlike most of the high-level politicians who stridently advocate independence). I care a hell of a lot about Taiwan Politics, which is why I don’t want Taiwan doing something stupid like this and isolating itself further from the community.

    You come up with baseless and insulting assumpitions and accusations about me, and my attitude to Taiwan. Your arguments about Tongyong are almost as baseless and insulting (to the intelligence with anyone with any knowledge of the argument). Well you can think what you like about Tongyong, but you should take back your personal attacks.

    Bri