UN has been using only simplified characters for years: Taiwan foreign ministry

In my earlier post on a report that the United Nations would drop the use of traditional Chinese characters, I wrote, “I hadn’t known the U.N. was still using traditional characters at all.”

According to a release from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday, the U.N. has not used traditional characters for years. The story led the Taiwan News today:

When Taiwan’s representative office in New York checked on the report with the U.N., officials from the Department of the U.N. Secretariat said they were not informed of the report and felt puzzled by it, the [MOFA] statement said.

Although the U.N. uses Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian as its official languages, the decision has not deterred the development of other languages, such as Japanese, German, or Portuguese, the statement added.

The conservation of culture in countries using these languages was also unaffected by the U.N.’s language policy, the statement said.

Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission Vice Minister Cheng Tong-hsing said yesterday at the Legislature that the government has plans to call press conferences and various publicity campaigns to boost public awareness of the significance of using traditional Chinese characters among Taiwanese and overseas Chinese.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) also said that due to the language’s historical and cultural significance, the MOE is firm in its stance that traditional Chinese characters will continue to be taught in local educational institutions regardless of the U.N.’s decision.

The Taipei Times‘ report was more cautious:

Tu said that the education ministry was in the process of verifying the UN’s plans.

It appears there’s something fishy (xīqiāo) going on, as the foreign ministry put it.


2 thoughts on “UN has been using only simplified characters for years: Taiwan foreign ministry

  1. Here’s a letter said to be from the UN’s Department of Public Information (via ???????):

    The UN has been using simplifed (and not traditional) Chinese characters since the 1970s. That’s when the official Chinese representation here switched from Taipei to Beijing.

    Since Beijing used simplified characters in its official communications, that’s the form that was adopted by the UN.

    The UN never used both forms simultaneously. So these reports about a switch to simplified characters that will happen in 2008 are not correct. We already use simplified characters.

    Thank you for writing to the United Nations.

    Public Inquiries Unit
    Public Relations Section
    Department of Public Information
    United Nations

  2. I think UN should use Traditional Chinese. And so should Mainland China. It is actually easier to learn Traditional Chinese than Simplified one. Because when we learn a new vocabulary, it is easier when it is put in a context. Traditional Chinese is more effective in providing a context with its pictogram nature.

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