The Forumosa Awards for Use of Tongyong Pinyin

If you do, I’ll insist on a set of parallel certificates for sucessful Tongyong adoption.

  1. The National Highway System
  2. Yushan National Park

Nice one, glad I am not the only one here that thinks like this, as much as I personally love to use Hanyu pinyin, I prefer Taiwan to be Taiwan and not use Commie Pinyin. Vive Le Difference! I say if Taiwan prefers Tongyong for whatever reason, let them. Hell everytime my mother comes here to Taiwan you should see the time she has with road names like XinYi Rd. or Zhong Xiao Rd. Tongyong is overall more intuitive for native English speakers with no academic background in studying Mandarin. Keep Hanyu pinyin for textbooks, but stick to Tongyong for the streets and the layman!

Tongyong Pinyin is a tool of the devil. Down with the gawdawful letter combination “jh”!

Tongyong Pinyin is a tool of the devil. Down with the gawdawful letter combination “jh”![/quote]

‘jh’ isn’t so bad. How about ‘ci’ for ‘qi’ and ‘cih’ for ‘ci’?

Oh, and I just love ‘wun’ for ‘wen’.

Still I support Taiwan’s right to choose its own writing systems.

Why doesn’t anyone argue that we should insist on using simplified characters? After all, it’s the international standard, and Taiwan should get with the program.Right?

I notice that some people have kicked this issue around a little before.

To me it seems like a pretty straight trade-off of certain practical benefits vs. the value of maintaining one’s cultural tradition.

The practical benefits of switching to simplified characters, I think, are fairly obvious in that one of the advantages people from Taiwan have in the global job market is their abililty to communicate in their native language with the most important rising economic power in the world. This advantage is becoming more important year (particularly as more and more Taiwan businesses move their production facilities to China) and would naturally be strengthened if they taught the same writing system.

On the other hand, efficiency and economic practicality are only one part of the larger picture. From what I’ve read (and I’m sure others on this board are more knowledgable on this subject than I) Mao was basically correct in feeling that the Chinese writing system was a ball-and-chain on the leg of every single Chinese student. It took them longer to learn to read and write than their peers in other countries, and this was time that they spend in school that they could be using to learn other things. I’m forgeting the statistics I read about how many years ahead the typical student could be at the time of graduation if it were not for the (literally) years spent learning nothing but basic literacy. All of which is why he wanted to get rid of the characters, which he saw as a relic of a past system that served to ensure that only those with large amounts of leisure (read “rich people”) would be literate. In the end this faction compromised by accepting the simplified characters as a compromise between traditional characters and a pure romanized Chinese writing system.

The point that I take from the battle over simplified characters on the Mainland was that there must of have been an amazingly strong current of cultural attachment to the traditional way of writing. It must have been so strong that it could stand up against the will of many powerful individuals within the communist party on the mainland.

So I guess it would not surprise me if this feeling of respect/attachment to the traditional characters in Taiwan were strong enough to outweigh any of the arguments in favour of switching for the foreseeable future.

My main beef with Tongyong is that there were already about 6 romanization systems competing with each other. Why invent yet another just to make a confusing situation even more confusing? Especially when there’s already an almost universally accepted international standard (and Taiwan does want to internationalize, does it not)?

So the government invents a new system (quite a bit more flawed than Hanyu Pinyin), and without allowing for much debate, pretty much forces it onto the country in blitzkrieg-like fashion.

Romanization is a phonetic system, and should not be politicized. Tongyong Pinyin was political from the get-go.

Most of the ruckus against Tong Yong comes from those of us who learned Hanyu in school and are reluctant to learn a new system, but different countries use different systems to romanize their languages, so Taiwan should be free to do the same. Foreigners will have to adapt and understand that Taiwan is a different country, romanizing under their own rules.

Yes, but this is about using a different system to romanise the same language.

My problem with Tongyong is that it is just plain stupid to invent a new romanisation system for a new language whent here is already an accepted international standard. I am nit saying that it is impossible to have two standards, but there are a huge number of disadvantages to doing so and absoulutely no advantages. Not one.

I truly have not yet heard a single good argument in favour of Tongyong Pinyin. All I hear are variations on ‘Taiwan is not China, we should have a different system’. That is just stupid. Many countries who are absoulutely independent from each other share the same form of writing.

Taiwan has it’s own languages (Taiwanese Hokkien and Aboriginal langauges) which make it unique. To insist on using a different form of romanisation for Mandarin, which offers no practical advantages, merely to try and be ‘culturally different’ from China, betrays an insecurity and a willingness to indirectly bow to pressure from China. Do advocates of Tongyong pinyin truly fear that using Hanyu Pinyin will bolster PRC claims that Taiwan is part of China? Do they really think that the case for independence is so slim that things like that matter.

Taiwan is not a part of China. Using Hanyu Pinyin (the only sensible choice) will not change this one bit. I know these two things to be true. Anyone who thinks using Hanyu Pinyin will relinquish Taiwanese claims to sovereignty is obviously chickenshit.


[quote=“Bu Lai En”][quote]d Do advocates of Tongyong pinyin truly fear that using Hanyu Pinyin will bolster PRC claims that Taiwan is part of China? Do they really think that the case for independence is so slim that things like that matter.

Taiwan is not a part of China. Using Hanyu Pinyin (the only sensible choice) will not change this one bit. I know these two things to be true. Anyone who thinks using Hanyu Pinyin will relinquish Taiwanese claims to sovereignty is obviously chickenshit.


China thinks that using Hanyu pinyin boosts its claim to Taiwan. I think tongyong strengthens Taiwanese claims to sovereignity in East Asia where the power to determine what script is used is a sign of legitimacy. Qin Shihuang being a prime example and the PRC’s switch to the simplified script being another. Not one country in East Asia now officially uses a romanization that was created by another country.

(Look ma, I just made a cultural argument)

And Maowang’s right about Hanyu pinyin largely being the force of habit.

This is a test of the mail system.

This is also a test to see if the

Who cares what China thinks? To worry unduly over the reaction of China when making absolutely non-political decisions, such as what romanisation system to use, is extreme cowardice.

This argument seems incredibly weak to me. Are you seriously saying that writing is a major determiner of national sovereignty in East Asia? I think Taiwan would be better off sticking to things like history and international law when it makes arguments about sovereignty.

Other countries don’t share the circumstances that see China and Taiwan sharing a language that requiores romanisation. But around the world, many many countries share languages and writing systems without thinking that their sovereignty is somehow compromised.

Yes, but habit is of overriding importance. Language is all about habit. We use the roman alphabet for English out of habit. We spell things the way we do out of habit. There may be better ways to do it, but the thing is that it has become a standard. The advantages of using an established standard far outweigh the minimal advantages to be had by reinventing the wheel.


Who is pinyin for? Obviously not people who can already read Chinese characters. It is for the convenience of foreigners.
What form of pinyin do most foreigners use? Hanyu pinyin.
Why then decide to use a form of pinyin most foreigners don’t know how to pronounce?! This decision certainly was not made with our convenience in mind. It just makes Chen look both contrary and immature, in my opinion.

It is not just for foreigners as has been discussed here many times before. Tongyong could be uses (it is claimed) to write Taiwanese and Hakka. Taiwanese will use it to write names, addresses, and street signs.

Smells like bullshit to me. The three don’t even share a phonetic structure - how can you use a system designed to phonetically represent one language to represent three markedly different ones?

Oh yeah? Then how come people are editing dictionaries and translating the Bible into Taiwanse using Tongyong.

iIf Tongyong (or any other romanization was taught in the schools), everyone would use it. It’s simply untrue (as is often argued) that “pinyin is for foreigners.”

A bunch of nutjob greens translating the bible to be read by absolutely no one for the political purpose of showing that Tongyong pinyin has any possible viability…

Hot damn, thats some great evidence to show that Tongyong has practical applications… by demonstrating its complete irrelevance.

Taiwan has a long tradition of doing things in a half-assed manner. I find it odd and quite disturbing to see a form of HYPY on Taipei street signs. The place was much cuddlier and friendlier when the romanisation was utter gibberish. Imagine if everything was the way it should be here! Clear pavements, smooth straight roads without potholes, an electricity supply that didn’t blow up when you plug in two heaters at the same time, insulation, double-glazed windows, transparent government, tortuous safety regulations… I could go on. Who’d live here? If I wanted all that I’d live in Tunbridge Wells.

I’ve turned (just like CSB). Bring back that Wade-Giles based stuff with a bit of 過於羅馬自 thrown in for good measure.


Her Hsuenn

I thought from the context that we were discussing the use of romanisation for foreigners - street signs, magazines etc.

Phoneticisation of Mandarin for the use by Taiwanese is a different argument. I persoanlly think the continued use of zhuyin fuhao is the best course in this. case.

Anyway, my comments are meant to refer to the sort of romanistion (street signs, names in English publications) which is almost exclusively for foreigners.

As for the claim that Tongyong Pinyin can be used for Hakka and Hokkien, that’s pure rot. Tonyong is a system for using the roman alphabet to represent the sounds of Mandarin. As the sounds of Taiwanese and Hakka are different, if you use the same symbols to represent different sounds, then it’s a different phonetic system, and thu no longer Tongyong Pinyin. That’s logically obvious to anyone who understands what romanisation is. It could be claimed that Tongyong can be adapted to create a phonetic system for Hokkien or Hakka, but that’s quite a different thing, and in fact the same could be said for Hanyu Pinyin. In fact it has already been done (for Hokkien) with Hanyu Pinyin. No, the claim that Tongyong can be used for Hokkien and Hakka is a red herring (no, more than that - a deception) used to gain political support for a systme that otherwise has nothing going for it.


I actively use Tongyong, albeit currently somewhat spottily, in translation and reporting for the Taiwan News and as a writer for the Council for Cultural Affairs English Web site . It was adopted by the News when the government made it official years ago.