Ma administration still undecided on how to teach Taiwanese

Under the new administration of President Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has worked out its plan for teaching pretty much everything … except for Hoklo (the language better known in these parts as “Taiwanese”). There have been a lot of arguments. How early to start teaching the language? How much should be taught? Use romanization? Use zhuyin? May teachers use any kind of soap or only special kinds when washing out the mouths of students speaking the language? (OK, they don’t do that last one anymore.)

So the ministry has decided to appoint a new committee to review such questions. Decisions on these issues are expected in six months or so.

My guess would be that the ministry is going to pack the new committee with conservatives who will see to it that romanization is avoided or at least belittled, that little of the language will actually be taught, and that students will not be tested seriously on the subject. But I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

sources:

27 thoughts on “Ma administration still undecided on how to teach Taiwanese

  1. Pingback: Links 8 September 2008 - David on Formosa

  2. Take a look at http://www.tadpolenese.com/

    (1) 26 letters are enough for Hoklo, no need for tone diacritics, no need for special fonts. Anyone with a keyboard can type it.

    (2) Running-vs-standing tonal-phrase structure is written out, as well as neutralized-tone suffixes.

    (3) Inter-dialectal and homophone-buster features considered.

    (4) Mental parsing of grammar eased by visual correlation of (a) verbs with Qu tone categories (-c/-mp/-nt/-nk/-r), and (b) nouns with phrase-final mark (.).

  3. Little Tadpole, your tadpolenese is so close to MLT (Modern Literal Taiwanese) that I think you would have been better off refining and adapting MLT rather than breaking off and creating a new system.

    I grant you, it is worthwhile to to mark the boundaries of a phonological phrase, so that the orthography can determine the juncture points where sandhi-tone transformations end (I had the same idea as well, but for purpose of aiding computerized parsing of Taiwanese language).

    Most of your ideas though have already been taken into account by the designers of MLT:

    (1) Easily satisfied. (The MLT variation Daibuun Phosit satisfies it perfectly using standard ASCII letters).

    (2) Compromises have to be made regarding how much to decorate the orthography with suprasegmental phonological and prosodic details. More detailed is not necessarily better. I happen to think MLT strikes a good balance, but you may have good ideas here.

    (3) There are 2 goals here (unifying dialectal differences with a common representation, providing more visual discrimination to resolve homophones); there are some trade-offs but they do not necessarily compete with each other. However, neither are they that serious either. Every standardized language has dialectal differences that are not fully expressed in the orthography, but people adapt and learn to pronounce a written word using their own speech. Every language also has homophonous elements, but written speech has enough context to distinguish them. I don’t think it is necessary from the onset to try to solve problems that are perhaps not real problems.

    (4) It’s not a bad idea in principle to have the orthography aid parsing to clearly label syntactic elements so that its semantics can be more readily recovered, but again, neither is it entirely necessary. Reading standardized text has a large predictive component which obviates the need for direct marking of its lexical entries.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like your analytical thinking. But I’ve also invested much time in this area as well, and have found that MLT has one outstanding advantage: it’s been around for over half a century, and has been field-tested by a small community of MLT practitioners who began as rank novices. That this community has been successful in teaching completely Taiwanese-illiterate students and getting them to write elaborate literature in a short amount of time says something about its effectiveness and its ability to strike a balance between simplicity and feature-specificity.

  4. Well, I was familiar with Phosit Daibuun a long time ago (12 years ago,) but I have not looked more into it. Frankly, it’s not interesting: it’s just another phonetic system, without morphemic elements. So it has all the homonym problems like any other phonemic system. Look, I just don’t understand all these people: you have a homonym problem, you know your “script” system has a problem, and yet you choose to live with the problem, and live with an unusable system. WHY?

    Tadpolenese goes much further beyond any other romanization scheme for Chinese dialects. No other system comes even close. In fact, I’d say Tadpolenese so far is the only Chinese romanization system that has a chance to be called a “script system”, in the 400 years of Chinese romanization history. I am not exaggerating. It’s just that I find it strange that no one else in the world has pushed in the same direction as I did.

    I don’t believe in choosing an existing system. I am for one the only person that complains there are NOT ENOUGH romanization systems. Each system brings new ideas. I don’t even believe my Tadpolenese is the final word for Hoklo. I still make changes, all the time. Trying to figure out the direction to go. Do you think that English got it spelling because someone said: we’ll stick with this system? You should take a look at how American English arrived at today’s spelling conventions. It was changes after changes, especially during the early days of independence.

    Tadpolenese is just a game. I don’t expect people to follow me or understand me for the next 20~30 years. But I find it very troublesome that younger Chinese people show such a lack of creativity. There is definitely something wrong with the Asian educational system. Everyone has access to an English keyboard, yet no one in the world except myself has been creative enough to push in the morphophonemic direction. Interdialectal considerations and Middle Chinese phonology provide tons of morphemic ideas. Tons.

    Tell me any other Hoklo writing system that takes into account phonological/historical considerations from Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Taiwanese, Teochew, Mandarin, Middle Chinese, English, German, etc. etc? If Tadpolenese is more readable, much more readable than any other system, is because of all the additional efforts put into it. I don’t believe in taking short-cuts, and I don’t believe in choosing a “final version”. To me, Tadpolenese will never have a final version. Just like English will never have a final version. Even as of now, I can write Tadpolenese in a more interdialectal form, or in a more vernacular form. Teochew songs are particularly interesting. The user is free to choose any form he/she likes. I know people in Taiwan don’t care about the Teochew language, I myself I don’t speak it. But I do care about it. I don’t like to raise walls, I like to build bridges, when it is possible.

  5. Another major difference between Tadpolenese and all other romanization systems is this: I NEVER TELL ANYONE TO USE TADPOLENESE.

    You see the difference? Proponents of ALL other systems tell other people to adopt their system. I don’t.

    I simply tell people to be creative, to have freedom of thought, freedom to try. That’s all. Creativity of children is so much more important to me. Whether they write down their mother tongue or not, that’s not important. What’s painful is to see how the Asian educational system kills the creativity of their children.

  6. I’ll split my replies into separate posts, as each dwelves in detail into different categories.

    The Homonym Myth

    > Frankly, it’s not interesting: it’s just another phonetic system, without morphemic elements.

    This is not so. I will address it in a following post on morphophonemic writing.

    > Look, I just don’t understand all these people: you have a homonym problem, you

    > know your “script” system has a problem, and yet you choose to live with the

    > problem, and live with an unusable system. WHY?

    Because it doesn’t have a homonym problem, that’s why. Not in actual practice. MLT has been used for over half a century without any significant homonym problems. If you think otherwise, please present an example of a modern Taiwanese sentence written in MLT which is difficult to decipher because of homonyms. To be precise, we are talking about modern Taiwanese, not Literary readings which compress words into portmanteau syllables.

    Here’s the relevant passage from Hanna’s book in which he tackles the “Homonym Myth” (in Mandarin, though the same arguments apply to Taiwanese):

    http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/east_asian_languages.html#homonyms

    ———————————————————————————————–

    The usual ploy is to consult the index of a large character dictionary, note the number of single-character entries under a given syllable — which can be in the dozens — and assert that the languages obviously need to be written with Chinese characters because phonetic representation would make the meanings of these sounds indistinguishable. However, as we have already noted, the number of single-syllable words in Chinese is less than in many alphabetically written languages. Even for sounds like Chinese yì and shì, where the inventory of characters is especially large, single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words. Using pinyinized Chinese, that is, Chinese written in a style appropriate to the phonetic writing system where the units are or should be words instead of syllable-size morphemes, WenWu found 11.6 percent of Chinese words to have homonyms, compared to 3.1 percent for English (1980:120). Zhou reports that in a Chinese dictionary of 60,000 words, some 4,000 or about 7 percent of its entries have homonyms; for a 120,000 word dictionary, the homonyms increase to about 6,000 or 5 percent (1987:13). Although high by Western standards, the figures are hardly alarming, since nothing has been said yet about frequency, the effects of context, or the phenomenon of “related meanings” in alphabetically written languages, which skews the comparison. In practical terms, Zhou calculates that the homonym problem in modern standard Mandarin reduces to about 1 percent.

    ———————————————————————————————–

    Let me emphasize 3 sentences from this passage:

    single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are

    bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words [not morphemes].

    This distinction is important, because Chinese speakers and Taiwanese speakers, do not properly distinguish between words and morphemes. To give an example, the entry ‘hun’ appears several times in some Taiwanese dictionaries, corresponding to different meanings—minute, separate, smoke, faint, marriage—giving rise to a classic “homonym problem”. But in actual practice, people do not use the morpheme ‘hun’ in isolation. They use words:

    hunzefng (a minute)

    hunkhuix (to separate)

    ciaqhwn (to smoke cigarettes)

    hun’khix (to faint)

    kiet’hwn (to marry)

    hun’yn (marriage)

    Of course ‘hwn’ alone does also appear in isolation as a word, since it is a semi-bound morpheme.

    hwn (vapor/smoke)

    but in this case it’s very clear from context that it refers to the word ‘vapor/smoke’, and not the morphemes ‘minute’, ‘separate’, ‘to smoke’, ‘faint’, or ‘marriage’

    Moreover, even when we acknowledge that there are single syllable MLT words that are spelled alike, then we must also likewise observe that the same occurs in English:

    can – a can of tuna
    can – yes, I can

    lay – lay the book down
    lay – lay reader of the law

    lie – don’t tell a lie
    lie – lie down and sleep

    league(s) – a league of nations
    league(s) – 20,000 leagues beneath the sea

    mine – what’s mine is mine
    mine – a gold mine

    kind – what kind of fool
    kind – a kind man

    Yet people do not seem to think that English has “too many homonyms” (more accurately: homophonous homologous words). A further problem occurs in English when words share large homologous segments (‘ther’) , but unrelated morphemes (-er in this case):

    father
    mother
    brother
    gather
    rather
    lather
    further
    farther
    bother
    tether

    Despite sharing 2/3 of the graphemes in each word, people do not find these words undecipherable.

    From my own experience and the experience of far more proficient MLT practitioners, the “homonym problem” is not a problem.

  7. Morphophonemic Writing

    For the benefit of other readers I will go over the notion of morphophonemic writing and show why the criticism that MLT lacks morphophonemic structure is off-base.

    A morpheme is a smallest linguistic unit of a language that has meaning (conveys semantics). Some examples are affixes such as pre- post- -er -est, -ed -ing, -s, or stems (eg: ‘cept’ in ‘precept’ or ‘accept’) In a morphophonemic writing system, the morphemes maintain a single written form (ie: are always spelled the same) even if they vary in their pronunciations (surface realizations). The affix -s indicating plurality in English is always spelled with an ‘s’, even though it can be pronounced in different ways.

    cats surfaces as [khaets]

    dogs surfaces as [dOgz]

    If we had a purely phonemic writing system,

    cats would be written as cats

    dogs would be written as dogz

    The morpheme -s alternates between its allomorphs [s] and [z]. Alternately, we could say the morpheme is -z and with allomorphs [-s] and [-z]. Indeed, it makes for a more convenient phonology, to take the morpheme as -z (even though it is written as ‘s’ in English orthography). We then apply a phonological rule called final obstruent devoicing (FOD):

    catz dogz

    s z (FOD: z -> s when z follows a voiced obstruent)

    [cats] [dogz]

    The final devoiced stop /t/ in /catz/ devoices the /z/ to form an /s/ so that the final surface form is [cats]. This accounts for why ‘catz’ would be pronounced as “cats” in English.

    To take another example, the words ‘Boston’ and ‘Bostonian’ spell ‘Boston-’ in the same way, even though ‘Boston-’ surfaces differently in each word.

    Boston surfaces as ['bOstn]

    Bostonian surfaces as [bOst'onI@n]

    The /o/ in the final syllable of Boston is truncated via a deletion rule in the first realization, and converted to a mid back tense round vowel via a vowel-raising rule in the second. Another phonological rule (a metrical rule) switches primary stress from the first syllable to the second syllable in the second realization. Thus the morpheme ‘Boston’ has 2 allomorphs ['bOstn] and [bOst'on].

    As a final example consider the -ed in the word ‘missed’. It has the same phonetic realization as the word ‘mist’, so morphophonemic spelling helps to disambiguate the 2 words, and lets the reader recognize the presence of the -ed affix, which then helps in parsing a sentence, as the -ed affix helps in recognizing a syntactic TP (tense phrase).

    Morphophonemic writing thus presents uniformity in the written form of each morpheme, greatly enabling recognition. Given

    these manifest advantages, it’s clear why morphophonemic writing is preferred to purely phonemic writing, especially for inflectional languages.

    So how does MLT stack up? Should it be morphophonemic?

    The answer is not clear-cut. For one, Taiwanese has a much sparser morphology than European languages. There are a few neutral-tone endings, such as -e or -a (which MLT accounts for), but in general, word formation rules involve morphemes which include a TCB (tone-carrying body). Other morphological derivations can simply be promoted to syntax. The question then becomes: Can morphemes be spelled uniformly in MLT words so that they can be easily recognized?

    The answer is: Close enough.

    I will provide an example to illustrate. The word ‘laang’ in MLT means ‘person’. It is the same morpheme that one sees in the word for ‘guest’: ‘langkheq’. But ‘laang’ and ‘lang-’ are spelled differently aren’t they? How can they be said to correspond to the same morpheme. The answer lies in Taiwanese phonology and Taiwanese morphology: ‘lang’ is the sandhi form of the morpheme ‘laang’, and each morpheme has only one sandhi form.

    In Taiwanese, each syllable has a lexical tone, which is its inherent tone, when pronounced in isolation. When syllables are composed into words, though, they have to obey a phonological (and morphological) rule called the sandhi tone rule for words (TSRW): Each syllable except for the final syllable switches from its lexical tone to its sandhi tone.

    lexical tone sandhi tone

    High Middle

    Middle Low

    Low Falling

    Falling High

    Rising Middle

    High stop Mid stop

    Mid stop High stop

    In our example: ‘laang’ carries the rising tone (the doubling of the vowel indicates a Rising tone), while ‘lang’ carries the Middle tone (denoted by single vowel). Applying, TSRW,

    laang + kheq -> langkheq

    Thus even though ‘laang’ is written as ‘lang’ in ‘langkheq’, the association between the two is evident. Proficient MLT readers immediately recognize ‘laang’ and ‘lang’ as allomorphs of ‘laang’. If we adhere strictly to morphophonemic writing, we would have to write ‘laangkheq’ rather than ‘langkheq’, but MLT is very specific in conforming to TSRW.

    Thus there is a small price to pay. In recognizing morphemes, MLT readers have to learn to associate lexical and sandhi representations of the same morpheme. This is taught in every MLT class. Students are drilled so that they can readily scan the sandhi form and retrieve the lexical form of morpheme to properly identify it.

    The only complication in what would otherwise be a very simple procedure is the existence of the Rising tone. Both the High tone and the Rising tone surface in their sandhi forms to the Middle tone, resulting in aliasing. Thus, from a sandhi Middle tone, we backtrack to either a lexical High tone or lexical Rising tone. Fortunately, phonotactic rules prevent certain combinations of tones and finals from occurring, so it becomes apparent which is the appropriate lexical tone.

    Here are some examples of composing morphemes into Taiwanese words in MLT using TSRW:

    baq (‘meat’: Mid Stop tone) + zaxng (‘packed rice’: Low tone) -> bahzaxng (‘meat/rice dish’: bah is sandhi High Stop tone)

    chiaq (‘lean’: Mid Stop tone) + baq (‘meat’: Mid Stop tone) -> chiahbaq (‘lean meat’: chiah has sandhi High Stop tone)

    hofng (‘wind’: High tone) + jit (‘day’: High stop tone) -> hongjit (‘weather’: hong has sandhi Middle tone)

    zaxm (‘chop’: Low tone) + khaf (‘feet’: High tone) -> zarmkhaf (‘stamp’: zarm has sandhi Falling tone)

    The tone letters h,q,f,x,r are encoded into the spelling of each word. There are other more involved tone encoding rules which require a little time to learn, but lend themselves to improved readability, because they provide visual discrimination for the syllable. After a little effort and practice, though, recognizing the tone of syllable becomes instantaneous.

    As a sop to the desirability of morphophonemic qualities, MLT does recognize that -n is a morpheme in the following:

    lie (you singular) lirn (you plural)

    goar (I) goarn (us – listener included)

    larn (us – listener excluded)

    The word for “us” (listener included) is written as

    goar + n -> goarn

    though phonemically, it should be written as ‘gurn’.

    Some designs in MLT take linguistic considerations out of morphology and place it in syntax, as I alluded to earlier. One example is the possessive morpheme -e. MLT promotes the morpheme to a clitic: a word which functions as a syntactic element, but attaches phonologically to its host.

    goar ee zhux “my house”

    Since -e now has a TCB, it must be given a lexical tone, namely the Rising tone, so that it surfaces as a Medium tone in sandhi form. Church Romanization typically attaches the possessive to its previous nominal,

    goa-e chhu (in Church Romanization)

    but MLT casts -e as a syntactic element. Promoting morphological units to clitics can be seen many other languages (Eg: the article ‘el’ in Spanish and ‘al’ in Arabic are typically clitics that attach to their following noun, and in fact the ‘s possessive in English is usually viewed as a clitic as well).

    To conclude, there are not the same distinct advantages in morphophonemic writing for Taiwanese as there are in inflecting languages, but MLT

    approximates morphophonemic writing, by closely adhering to morphophonemic conventions. This is due to the highly predictable tone alternations patterns in Taiwanese phonology. As a consequence, readers have to do a little bit of work to identify what would otherwise be uniformly-spelled morphemes, but proficient readers do this effortlessly, and recognition of morphemes is apparent.

  8. The Homonym Myth

    > Frankly, it’s not interesting: it’s just another phonetic system, without morphemic elements.

    This is not true. I will address it in a following post on morphophonemic writing.

    > Look, I just don’t understand all these people: you have a homonym problem, you

    > know your “script” system has a problem, and yet you choose to live with the

    > problem, and live with an unusable system. WHY?

    Because it doesn’t have a homonym problem, that’s why. Not in actual practice. MLT has been used for over half a century without any significant homonym problems. If you think otherwise, please present an example of a modern Taiwanese sentence written in MLT which is difficult to decipher because of homonyms. To be precise, we are talking about modern Taiwanese, not Literary readings which compress words into portmanteau syllables.

    Here’s the relevant passage from Hanna’s book in which he tackles the “Homonym Myth” (in Mandarin, though the same arguments apply to Taiwanese):

    http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/east_asian_languages.html#homonyms

    ———————————————————————————————–

    The usual ploy is to consult the index of a large character dictionary, note the number of single-character entries under a given syllable — which can be in the dozens — and assert that the languages obviously need to be written with Chinese characters because phonetic representation would make the meanings of these sounds indistinguishable. However, as we have already noted, the number of single-syllable words in Chinese is less than in many alphabetically written languages. Even for sounds like Chinese yì and shì, where the inventory of characters is especially large, single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words. Using pinyinized Chinese, that is, Chinese written in a style appropriate to the phonetic writing system where the units are or should be words instead of syllable-size morphemes, WenWu found 11.6 percent of Chinese words to have homonyms, compared to 3.1 percent for English (1980:120). Zhou reports that in a Chinese dictionary of 60,000 words, some 4,000 or about 7 percent of its entries have homonyms; for a 120,000 word dictionary, the homonyms increase to about 6,000 or 5 percent (1987:13). Although high by Western standards, the figures are hardly alarming, since nothing has been said yet about frequency, the effects of context, or the phenomenon of “related meanings” in alphabetically written languages, which skews the comparison. In practical terms, Zhou calculates that the homonym problem in modern standard Mandarin reduces to about 1 percent.

    ———————————————————————————————–

    Let me emphasize 3 sentences from this passage:

    single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are

    bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words [not morphemes].

    This distinction is important, because Chinese speakers and Taiwanese speakers, do not properly distinguish between words and morphemes. To give an example, the entry ‘hun’ appears several times in some Taiwanese dictionaries, corresponding to different meanings—minute, separate, smoke, faint, marriage—giving rise to a classic “homonym problem”. But in actual practice, people do not use the morpheme ‘hun’ in isolation. They use words:

    hunzefng (a minute)

    hunkhuix (to separate)

    ciaqhwn (to smoke cigarettes)

    hun’khix (to faint)

    kiet’hwn (to marry)

    hun’yn (marriage)

    Of course ‘hwn’ alone does also appear in isolation as a word, since it is a semi-bound morpheme.

    hwn (vapor/smoke)

    but in this case it’s very clear from context that it refers to the word ‘vapor/smoke’, and not the morphemes ‘minute’, ‘separate’, ‘to smoke’, ‘faint’, or ‘marriage’

    Moreover, even when we acknowledge that there are single syllable MLT words that are spelled alike, then we must also likewise observe that the same occurs in English:

    can – a can of tuna

    can – yes, I can

    lay – lay the book down

    lay – lay reader of the law

    lie – don’t tell a lie

    lie – lie down and sleep

    league(s) – a league of nations

    league(s) – 20,000 leagues beneath the sea

    mine – what’s mine is mine

    mine – a gold mine

    kind – what kind of fool

    kind – a kind man

    Yet people do not seem to think that English has “too many homonyms” (more accurately: homophonous homologous words). A further problem occurs in English when words share large homologous segments (‘ther’) , but unrelated morphemes (-er in this case):

    father

    mother

    brother

    gather

    rather

    lather

    further

    farther

    bother

    tether

    Despite sharing 2/3 of the graphemes in each word, people do not find these words undecipherable.

    From my own experience and the experience of far more proficient MLT practitioners, the “homonym problem” is not a problem.

  9. I’ll split my replies into separate posts, as each dwelves in detail into different categories.

    The Homonym Myth

    >Frankly, it’s not interesting: it’s just another phonetic system, without morphemic elements.

    This is not true. I will address it in a following post on morphophonemic writing.

    > Look, I just don’t understand all these people: you have a homonym problem, you know your “script” system has a problem, and yet you choose to live with the problem, and live with an unusable system. WHY?

    Because it doesn’t have a homonym problem, that’s why. Not in actual practice. MLT has been used for over half a century without any significant homonym problems. If you think otherwise, please present an example of a modern Taiwanese sentence written in MLT which is difficult to decipher because of homonyms. To be precise, we are talking about modern Taiwanese, not Literary readings which compress words into portmanteau syllables.

    Here’s the relevant passage from Hannas’s book in which he tackles the “Homonym Myth” (in Mandarin, though the same arguments apply to Taiwanese):

  10. ———————————————————————————————–

    The usual ploy is to consult the index of a large character dictionary, note the number of single-character entries under a given syllable — which can be in the dozens — and assert that the languages obviously need to be written with Chinese characters because phonetic representation would make the meanings of these sounds indistinguishable. However, as we have already noted, the number of single-syllable words in Chinese is less than in many alphabetically written languages. Even for sounds like Chinese yì and shì, where the inventory of characters is especially large, single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words. Using pinyinized Chinese, that is, Chinese written in a style appropriate to the phonetic writing system where the units are or should be words instead of syllable-size morphemes, WenWu found 11.6 percent of Chinese words to have homonyms, compared to 3.1 percent for English (1980:120). Zhou reports that in a Chinese dictionary of 60,000 words, some 4,000 or about 7 percent of its entries have homonyms; for a 120,000 word dictionary, the homonyms increase to about 6,000 or 5 percent (1987:13). Although high by Western standards, the figures are hardly alarming, since nothing has been said yet about frequency, the effects of context, or the phenomenon of “related meanings” in alphabetically written languages, which skews the comparison. In practical terms, Zhou calculates that the homonym problem in modern standard Mandarin reduces to about 1 percent.

    ———————————————————————————————–

    Let me emphasize 3 sentences from this passage:

    single-syllable morphemes that can stand alone as words are few. Almost all of these entries are

    bound or semibound morphemes that do not appear as isolated units in the spoken language.

    What must be counted if statistics are to be meaningful are homophonous words [not morphemes].

    This distinction is important, because Chinese speakers and Taiwanese speakers, do not properly distinguish between words and morphemes. To give an example, the entry ‘hun’ appears several times in some Taiwanese dictionaries, corresponding to different meanings—minute, separate, smoke, faint, marriage—giving rise to a classic “homonym problem”. But in actual practice, people do not use the morpheme ‘hun’ in isolation. They use words:

    hunzefng (a minute)

    hunkhuix (to separate)

    ciaqhwn (to smoke cigarettes)

    hun’khix (to faint)

    kiet’hwn (to marry)

    hun’yn (marriage)

    Of course ‘hwn’ alone does also appear in isolation as a word, since it is a semi-bound morpheme.

    hwn (vapor/smoke)

    but in this case it’s very clear from context that it refers to the word ‘vapor/smoke’, and not the morphemes ‘minute’, ‘separate’, ‘to smoke’, ‘faint’, or ‘marriage’

  11. Moreover, even when we acknowledge that there are single syllable MLT words that are spelled alike, then we must also likewise observe that the same occurs in English:

    can – a can of tuna

    can – yes, I can

    lay – lay the book down

    lay – lay reader of the law

    lie – don’t tell a lie

    lie – lie down and sleep

    league(s) – a league of nations

    league(s) – 20,000 leagues beneath the sea

    mine – what’s mine is mine

    mine – a gold mine

    kind – what kind of fool

    kind – a kind man

    Yet people do not seem to think that English has “too many homonyms” (more accurately: homophonous homologous words). A further problem occurs in English when words share large homologous segments (‘ther’) , but unrelated morphemes (-er in this case):

    father

    mother

    brother

    gather

    rather

    lather

    further

    farther

    bother

    tether

    Despite sharing 2/3 of the graphemes in each word, people do not find these words undecipherable.

    From my own experience and the experience of far more proficient MLT practitioners, the “homonym problem” is not a problem.

  12. Do you think that English got it spelling because someone said: we’ll stick with this system? You should take a look at how American English arrived at today’s spelling conventions. It was changes after changes, especially during the early days of independence.

    Noah Webster’s reform of American English spelling from British English were proposed and effected in the 19th century. He mostly did stick with standard British spelling because it was a familiar standard. The changes he introduced were relatively modest, and were limited to removing redundancy and a few simplifications, which is why Americans and British subjects were still able to easily read each other’s writing.

    1. -our” to “-or
    2. -re” to “-er
    3. dropping final “k” in “publick,” etc.
    4. changing “-ence” to “-ense” in “defence,” etc.
    5. use single “l” in inflected forms, e.g. “traveled”
    6. use double “l” in words like “fulfill”
    7. use “-or” for “-er” where done so in Latin, e.g. “instructor,” “visitor”
    8. drop final “e” to give: ax, determin, definit, infinit, envelop, medicin, opposit, famin, (others)
    9. use single “f” at end of words like “pontif,” “plaintif”
    10. change “-ise” to “-ize” wherever this can be traced back to Latin and Greek

    Other changes since colonial times involve remapping vowels (eg: whyte -> white) and replacing the grapheme that looks like an ‘f’ with an ‘s’.

    Perhaps you are referring to irregularities in English spelling because English orthography retains remnants of etymological spelling rules from Middle English, even after the language had transitioned to Modern English in the 16th century. Eg: ‘knight’ and ‘sight’ were pronounced as [knICt] and [sICt] in Middle English (the ‘C’s are voiceless palatal fricatives in X-SAMPA) and as [saIt] and [naIt] in Modern English though the spellings have been retained.

    Tadpolenese goes much further beyond any other romanization scheme for Chinese dialects. No other system comes even close. In fact, I’d say Tadpolenese so far is the only Chinese romanization system that has a chance to be called a “script system”, in the 400 years of Chinese romanization history. I am not exaggerating. It’s just that I find it strange that no one else in the world has pushed in the same direction as I did.

    Tadepolenese also happens to contain many of the ideas already found in MLT. That you want to run with it, of course, is your perogative.

    Tadpolenese is just a game. I don’t expect people to follow me or understand me for the next 20~30 years.

    I think you’re right in your estimation.

    Everyone has access to an English keyboard, yet no one in the world except myself has been creative enough to push in the morphophonemic direction.

    Or perhaps they have not found it worth pursuing in this manner.

    Interdialectal considerations and Middle Chinese phonology provide tons of morphemic ideas. Tons.

    Indeed, but people also think a writing system should be simple and devoid of distracting phonological and morphological elements.

    I don’t believe in taking short-cuts, and I don’t believe in choosing a “final version”. To me, Tadpolenese will never have a final version. Just like English will never have a final version.

    But there’s a difference between an evolving standard, and an eternal work in progress. MLT belongs to the former category.

    Another major difference between Tadpolenese and all other romanization systems is this: I NEVER TELL ANYONE TO USE TADPOLENESE.

    And good for you! But do you deny others the right to make judgements and recommend their choice of writing system?

  13. S.C. Goh: As I have often said, Tadpolenese is just a game, and writing down a person’s mother tongue is not really that important. What is important to me is think on how to stop the way the Asian educational system murder the creativity of children. I’ll respond to linguistics issues later (actually, I don’t think this is a right forum here.) A short answer is: think on the way how you write in English, before you do any judgment. If billions of people use Chinese and English, both heavily morphemic, there is something for you to think about. A lot of social illness in Asia (China and Taiwan included) stems from the way how children are educated there. But I don’t want to talk over other people’s head. So, meanwhile, take a look at Prof. Randy Pausch’s last lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo . There is different way of teaching our children.

  14. I’ll reply slowly.

    I said: “Everyone has access to an English keyboard, yet no one in the world except myself has been creative enough to push in the morphophonemic direction.”

    S.C.Goh said: “Or perhaps they have not found it worth pursuing in this manner.”

    No. They simply have not tried it. Please see: http://groups.google.com/group/tadpolenese/browse_thread/thread/4d4c6bccfc93c07d

    ONCEUPONATIMEPEOPLEWROTEWITHOUTSPACES THEN ONE DAY SOMEONE CAME UP WITH WRITING WITH SPACES AND HE WAS RIDICULED BECAUSE PEOPLE NEVER WROTE WITH SPACES BEFORE one thousand years later someone started to wr?te w?th lower-case letters and people thought he was crazy because ?nstead of 26 letters there are now 52 letters so th?ngs got tw?ce as compl?cated. and then someone else ?nvented the punctuat?on marks. Then also started to cap?tal?ze beg?nn?ngs of sentences, and not only that, they started to dot the lower-case i letters. And again many people thought those were unnecessary features that only make things more complicated. And today, some people ridicule morphophenemic writing, but interestingly enough, these people use (1) spaces, (2) lower-case letters, (3) punctuation marks, (4) dotted i’s and j’s, (5) capital sentence-initials, (6) and finally, English, to make these very same criticisms.

    Sure, it is VERYEASYTOWRITETHEWAYPEOPLEWROTEBEFORE. But easy writing does not mean easy reading. If Tadpolenese is easier to read, there are reasons to it.

    It is very easy to criticize new things. E.g: people living under dictatorships will invariably ridicule any ideas on Western-style freedom and democracy. It is only AFTER those countries become democratic that they come to realize how wrong they were before. Similarly, people that have never dealt with morphophenemic writing will invariably reject it for its additional complexity. It is only until after they get familiar with it that they will realize how wrong they were before.

  15. Little Tadpole: Long study has taught me that when it comes to bases for romanization systems, it’s unwise to discount the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

    “Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’? Already it has existed for ages which were before us.”

    And even if some truly new approach were to emerge — which I very much doubt has happened in the past few decades or will happen in the decades to come — chances are overwhelmingly in favor of an incremental nudge rather than a quantum leap in facility. So how much more useful would it really be?

    S.C. Goh has taken the trouble to provide you with more than a few useful thoughts along these lines. I don’t think you’ve given them the consideration they deserve.

    Also, you don’t seem to take even your own system seriously — so why should anyone else? Since you’ve made it clear that you don’t understand that the supposed problem with homonyms is indeed a myth, I’d say that the chance that you’re really “20~30 years” ahead of the rest of us is, um, more than a little unlikely.

    I quite agree that the local educational system does far too little to promote creativity and far too much to discourage it. But it’s unclear to me how Tadpolenese is supposed to be the solution to this. If that problem is your main concern, it may be that your efforts are misdirected.

    By the way, Hannas, whom S.C. Goh cites, has written a controversial book on the very topic of creativity, alphabetical systems, and Chinese characters. But I don’t think Hannas would find much to agree with in your approach either.

  16. Pinyin Info wrote: “…Also, you don’t seem to take even your own system seriously — so why should anyone else?”

    The answer is: they shouldn’t.

    Look at the names of a few Pinyin/Romanization systems:

    Latinxua Sin Wenz
    Gwoyeu Romatyh
    Hanyu Pinyin
    Phofsit Daibuun
    Modern Literal Taiwanese
    Peh-Oe-Ji
    Hanyu Pinyin
    Romanized Popular Alphabet (Hmong)
    Tonyong Pinyin

    and then compare it to

    Tadpolenese

    Do you see a difference? All other systems have grandiose names. Tadpolenese, well, has a funny name. Why? Because it is meant to be fun. If you don’t get this point, then you have missed the entire message of Tadpolenese.

    Please don’t kill the fun for the children. The message of Tadpolenese is: go out and be creative. Write out in anyway you like, don’t be constrained by existing rules. And then, think, and re-think. That’s the whole idea behind Tadpolenese. And if you’ve watched Randy Pausch’s last lecture, maybe you can understand the why.

    Until the coming of Tadpolenese, have you ever heard about Hoklo being a stereotonic language? Have you ever seen someone else writing with tonal-phrase mark? Do you think these things happened before someone followed rules? Do you think the lower-case i letter got the dot because someone followed rules? I know, I know, when the guy that first put the dot on the lower-case i, he was also told that there was nothing new under the sun. And if you watch Randy Pausch’s video again, you will see that he wore a jacket full of arrows on his back at one point. Yes, creative people tend to carry a lot of arrows on their backs. And children’s creativities are killed precisely because adults tend to shoot arrows on their little backs.

    You guys are after grandness, historic moments. Tadpolenese is after the creativity of children and fun. You guys aim for systems to be used, I aim for inspiring other people to think. You guys tell other people to follow, I tell other people to lead. Read again the list of names: how serious is “Tadpolenese”, seriously? Take another look at Randy’s Pausch’s words before he died (and remember his lecture was actually for children.) And then think again.

  17. S.C. Goh: “But there’s a difference between an evolving standard, and an eternal work in progress… But do you deny others the right to make judgements and recommend their choice of writing system?”

    What power do I have at all? I am not aware that I can even “deny” other people’s rights to make “judgements”.

    If you do not like “eternal work in progress”, then do not use English. Because after hundreds of years, the spelling for the word “judgement” is still undecided. It can be both “judgment” and “judgement”. English is also an eternal work in progress. But you don’t seem to have a problem using it, right? Why don’t you compare today’s English writing with the one at Chaucer’s time, and tell me why Chaucer should have stopped writing because English was an “eternal work in progress” back then?

    Google for laaqiaa, zabou and zavoul. Yes, Tadpolenese is an eternal work in progress, just like English. But just like English, there are many words that have suffered no changes at all, for the longest time.

  18. S.C. Goh: “Tadepolenese also happens to contain many of the ideas already found in MLT. That you want to run with it, of course, is your perogative.”

    English happens to borrow heavily from French. Are English speakers ashamed of it? French happens to borrow heavily from Latin, are French speakers ashamed of it?

    Sorry to tell you Tadpolenese did not borrow many ideas from MLT. In fact, on top of head, I can’t think of any ideas that I really borrowed from MLT/Phofsit Daibbun. I borrowed many ideas from Gwoyeu Romatzyh, from Hanyu Pinyin, and from historical Chinese phonology (in particular the -k/-g/-p/-b/-t/-d/-h/-q endings, for marking the correlation between voicedness and pitch value.) If you want to say anything about tonal spelling, Gwoyeu Romatzyh predates Phofsit Daibuun by quite some time. And I also never see any MLT users mention about Hmong’s Romanized Popular Alphabet (RPA.) I don’t know where you get the idea that Tadpolenese is “running with it”. Why would Tadpolenese run with any feature of MLT, when MLT clearly has tons of problems? To start with, MLT violates the stereotonic nature of Hoklo. MLT started with the left foot at its birth. I don’t blame its inventor, because back then, linguistics clearly was not nearly as developed, and people were looking at stereotonic languages from a monotonic perspective. But it’s a historical fact. Now it’s stuck with this problem. POJ and MLT each have their problems. POJ’s problem is the tone marks are too small, and the tone marks are inspired by their standing tone values, which is the wrong choice. MLT’s tones are are marked with letters, which is a better choice, but MLT’s tones mix both the running tone and standing tone, which violates the stereotonic nature of the Hoklo language. I wish I could tell you an easy way out of the problem, but I just don’t know a solution. POJ, on the contrary, could use tonal-phrase marks and tone-neutralization marks easily. Tadpolenese crosses dialect/subdialect boundaries easily (keep Teochew in mind,) because it was founded on solid linguistics bedrock. Do you think this linguistics bedrock is found because of MLT/Hanyu Pinyin/Gwoyeu Romatzyh? Or is it because someone thought about the problems, year after year, trials after trials, changes after changes? What I see is I’ll have a huge headache trying to make MLT or POJ cross dialectal boundaries. All I want to say is, Tadpolenese contains so many ideas from so many sources, that your claim that it is “running with it” with MLT ideas is simply not true. I know some friends and linguists from UC Berkeley and Univ of Washington that have helped me with ideas in the process, but Phofsit Daibuun’s influence was pretty slim. Probably non-zero, but very slim.

  19. At this point, i would like to return to a more polite and civil exchange, as I am convinced that it does not benefit MLT for MLT adherents to engage in mudslinging with proponents of other systems. I would of course be happy to answer any further questions from anyone at pinyin.info about MLT or the linguistics topics that I raised in my earlier postings on morphophonemic writing, phonology, morphology, and syntax, how MLT presents lexical and sandhi tone allomorphs, or to answer any further questions regarding ambiguity in homophonous homologous representations of words.

    I would just like to emphasize one last point that I had made from the onset, which is that MLT has been field-tested for over 50 years, and has a small but significant body of literature available, as well as a community of users across the world. A few changes have been made to MLT over the years of course, with dictionaries updated, and some archaic words redacted, but among all the Romanization schemes that have ever been devised—and there have been many—MLT and Church Romanization are the only ones that remain.

    I once proposed a series of trials to determine the best writing system for Taiwanese:

    http://pinyin.info/news/2006/moe-approves-taiwanese-romanization-tongyongists-protest/

    —————————————————————–
    Here is an experiment that I have proposed to many POJ practitioners: Have teams of fully-trained POJ adherents compete against an MLT team in several measured trials.

    Trial A (Transcription)

    A sample piece of text of is read allowed by a neutral party. A member of each team then transcribes the spoken speech using the team’s orthography: POJ or MLT. The writer than passes his text to a second member of his own team, who then proceeds to read it out loud. The trial is judged on both speed and accuracy.

    Trial B (Translation)

    A newspaper article written Chinese text (Mandarin) is presented to a member of each team, who then proceeds to translate the text into Taiwanese writing. The resulting translation is presented to a second member of the team, who then reads it out loud in Taiwanese. This trial is also judged on speed and accuracy.
    I’ve only tried this out informally, but to me it is clear that there is a clear quantitive difference in reading and writing ability among these orthographies. The great difficulty is in actually getting POJ practitioners to agree to participate in this experiment because they are often very unconfident about their own abilities in POJ, despite their years (sometimes decades) of practice.
    —————————————————————-

    I still stand behind this experiment as a means of testing which writing system is the most effective. From my own experience, I have seen experienced MLT practitioners read and write in MLT as quickly as I do in English, able to scan several lines of text at once. This is a feat that I have yet to see demonstrated in any other Romanization scheme, despite the years of effort, study, and practice put in.

    I am actually glad for this exchange, because I had been planning a series of introductory articles about MLT, and this has helped me focus my thoughts and guided me to write about what differentiates MLT from the other orthographies that I have encountered. It has also helped me to highlight MLT’s great design qualities.

  20. I would first like to express my appreciation for pinyin.info’s thoughtful and intelligent comments, and I hope my treatment of the Homonym Myth offers an example of Hannas’s analysis and insights, as applied to Taiwanese rather than Mandarin. The earlier posting titled Morphophonemic Writing requires a little background in phonology to understand, but I hope people can take something from it. The most important section involves how tone alternations between lexical tone and sandhi tone work, and how the word formation rules in MLT apply these tone alternations. The formatting did not turn out as well as I would have liked, as some text did not get properly aligned. I would, however, be glad to answer questions.

    Given his opening salvo

    > Frankly, it’s not interesting: it’s just another phonetic system, without morphemic elements. So it has all the homonym problems like any other phonemic system. Look, I just don’t understand all these people: you have a homonym problem, you know your “script” system has a problem, and yet you choose to live with the problem, and live with an unusable system. WHY?

    it’s not difficult to understand why Little Tadpole is not willing to reconsider his prior assumptions about the Homonym Problem, or the suitability of writing Taiwanese using MLT, and instead hopes to evade them by diverting attention to irrelevant side discussions. Rather than indulge him in these diversions, I prefer to focus on explaining why I think MLT is the most suitable Romanization system available today, and provide linguistic rationales for my thoughts.

    A discussion of MLT is featured in Henning Klöter’s book Written Taiwanese and a couple of the Sino-Platonic Papers available at this site. None of them, though, really fully elucidate why MLT’s word formation rule, TSRW (Tone Sandhi Rule for Words) works so well. I hope to explain why in later writings on the topic, but they take some time and effort to explain adequately.

    I also wanted to note one extraordinary bit of irony. It had dawned on me that the person who introduced me to MLT was none other than Little Tadpole himself.

    In 1994, he posted an introductory article about TMSS (Taiwanese Modern Spelling system), which is the same writing system as MLT (Modern Literal Taiwanese). Evidently, he was interested in MLT/TMSS at one point, before setting off on his own separate system. It was only after reading that article that I became intrigued enough to study it further, and to delve into Taiwanese phonology and morphology. I will post the article below, as I think it offers a brief and succinct introduction to MLT. So all wrangling aside, I think I should thank him for his earlier efforts.

  21. Here is Little Tadpole’s introduction to MLT/TMSS written in 1994:
    ————————————————————————————–
    Sometime ago I posted an article on the romanization scheme for Hoklo
    Taiwanese language. Now I will post yet another widely-used scheme.

    In that article I called the first scheme the “Church Romanization”.
    Later, I found a book that calls it the “Missionary Romanization”.
    I believe the latter is more correct.

    Also, I have learned from some Hoklo teachers that there is
    no consensus on the Chinese characters for the word “Hoklo”.
    Apparently many paleoorthographic research articles have been written
    on just these two characters! Therefore, at least for now, the spelling
    “Holo” should be considered just as valid as “Hoklo”. (I personally
    spell it sometimes as Holo and sometimes as Hoklo… really bothersome,
    I don’t know what to do about it.)

    I am not really satisfied with my present posting…
    It is not very well organized. Also, I do not know many
    of the technical terms. However, I am presenting it here anyway,
    with the hope of improving it sometime in the future.
    Meanwhile, this article serves to give a “first look” into TMSS.
    I hope the reader will be able to capture most of its essential features.

    Finally, if anyone on the net is familiar with TMSS, please get
    in touch with me. I am really interested in learning more about it
    as well as discussing general issues in Hoklo romanization.

    Taiwanese Modern Spelling System (TMSS)
    =======================================

    Historical note: this scheme is created in early 1940s by the professor
    Lin Chi-Hsiung (Liim Keahsioong) of the National Cheng-Kung University.
    (Lin=forest, Chi=to continue, Hsiung=hero.) Over the next few years
    it was slightly modified, but basically remained unchanged 1950s.
    The current popularization of the system started only after 1987.

    My source: fax pages provided to me by Ms. Margie Lee, director of the D.C.
    Taiwanese School. I am deeply grateful for all the information provided
    to me.

    Main features and attractiveness over the Missionary Romanization scheme:
    1) Tonal markers are replaced by letters. I suspect that this has some
    linguistic justification, since historically tonality can happen through
    the omission of final consonants. (I learned it from sci.lang)
    2) Uses word linkage. That is, many words are multi-syllable.
    3) Nasalization symbol preceeds vowels in a syllable.
    4) employs some letters/combinations to ease tone notation
    (y w ie uo ea ae ao intead of if uf ir ur er air aur).

    General reception: Hoklo speakers that are familiar with both
    the Missionary Romanization (MR) and TMSS tend to agree that TMSS
    is far superior than MR. TMSS is also a more robust system,
    meaning that even if a text contains misspellings, the reader will
    still likely be able to understand the text. MR apparently is much
    weaker in this sense.

    Letters
    =======

    vowel letters: a i u e o @ y w (@ actually should be an “o” superimposed
    with a backslash “\”)
    consonant letters: b c g h j k l m n p s t z
    nasalization letter: v (actually it is a Greek nu)
    tonal letters: d q f r x

    Syllable structure
    ==================

    each syllable is composed of up to five parts:

    consonant + nasalization + vowel + tone + ending sound (ending vowel)

    Vowels
    ======

    a) Monophtongs

    a i u e o @ m ng

    b) Diphtongs/Triphtongs

    ai au oa oe @e oai ia iu i@ iau ui

    c) Special representations

    y=if w=uf
    ie=ir uo=ur ea=er ae=air ao=aur

    Consonants
    ==========

    a) Five voiced and voiceless consonant pairs
    c k p t z
    ch kh ph th zh
    b) other consonants
    b g h j l s m n

    these consonants can be classified as (don’t trust the technical terms here…
    I had to translate from Chinese to English, also, personally I don’t think
    the classification is well done.)

    bilabial: p ph m (b)
    apico-alveolar: t th n (l)
    velar,uvular,glottal: k kh h (g)
    apico-dentalveolar: c ch z zh j s

    Ending nasal consonant
    ======================

    m n ng E.g. tiarm=tired; kin=near,close; tang=heavy

    Nasalization
    ============

    v (a Greek nu)

    Tones (I don’t know the names of the tones… would appreciate the names
    ===== given in English or Latin. I don’t like the Chinese names like Ru,
    Yin, Yang, etc. I had to translate to Chinese names into English
    here, and the translated name may not be phonetically correct.)

    Base (mid) a an am ang m ng
    High af afn afm afng mf ngf
    High stressed (high falling) ar arn arm arng mr ngr
    Low stressed (low falling) ax axn axm axng mx ngx
    Rising (low rising) aa aan aam aang mm ngg
    High stopped ah at ap ak mh ngh
    Low stopped aq ad ab ag mq ngq

    Linkage symbols
    ===============

    1) Apostrophe (‘) is used in order to separate syllable that might be mislinked
    otherwise.

    e.g. te’aw harn’y pak’hofng kiok’hoef

    2) Hyphen (-) is used to link two words

    e.g. Taioaan-lang, Bykog-kongbiin, hiaf-ciaf

    3) Plus sing (+) is used as a superscript to emphasize. The syllable after
    the (+) sign acquires a lower tonality.

    e.g. khuy+khuy khuikhuy (open, half-open)
    kviaf+sie kviafsie (scared)
    Taan+siensvy (Mr. Taan) Taan Bygiok (a female name)

    Tone mutation
    =============

    Tone mutation is present in many Chinese languages, but Hoklo is
    particularly complicated at it.

    All the seven tones mutate. The mutation occurs in composite words.
    As a rule, all the syllables in a composite word change to the
    mutated tones except the last syllable.

    (Note: I don’t know whether there are exception to the mutation rules,
    but Hoklo seems fairly rigid about the tone mutation)

    The following chart explain the tone mutation in Hoklo.

    long tones short tones
    ========== ===========

    high low-stressed low-stopped

    Example: (hyphenated here to make the individual syllables more clear)

    hoer = fire
    hoef-chiaf = train (fire-car, literally)
    hoef-chia-zam =train station
    hoef-chia-zaxm-tviur = train station master
    hoef-chia-zaxm-tviuf-lviuu = train station master’s wife

    Example of text (included here just give an idea of how MTR looks like)
    ===============

    Titw k@hzaix tuix hosiin korng, “Hosiin Hviaf,
    Hosiin Hviaf. Lie nar @e ciahniq’ientaau? Lie
    kiarm zay, lie ee bagciw vii-kwnkurn, lie ee sit
    si hiahniq’kym-siaksiag. Goar theh cviax laai ho lie
    chi@x, lie ciu thafng zaiviar”.
    Hosiin thviati@h titw @l@r y ientaau, ciu simlai
    hvoahie, lorng b@e kietit ti@qaix tviutii. Y cide
    p@ef-jibkhix titw-ban+nih, ciu cviazoex titw ee
    armtngx.

  22. S.C.Goh: “In 1994, he posted an introductory article about TMSS (Taiwanese Modern Spelling system), which is the same writing system as MLT (Modern Literal Taiwanese). Evidently, he was interested in MLT/TMSS at one point, before setting off on his own separate system.”

    And afterwards I grew up and moved forward, right? If I got tired of POJ (which I wrote for quite sometime with the POJ people) and TMSS, there are good reasons. And I took a long break, too, until recently. I have spend quite some time writing POJ, but when I look back and ask myself: “what have I gained?” “where’s my contribution?” I can’t find an answer.

    Please visit http://bbs.gophor.com/hokkien/ for the kinds of issues and problems that I am looking into nowadays. It’s not just Taiwanese. I look into Quanzhou, Teochew, and even Fuzhou/Min-Dong and Wu language issues. I attempt to learn and reconstruct Middle Hoklo pronunciation. These are all advanced topics but that are important 20 years down the road. A lot of people work very hard (see also Hokkienese.com) I see it as distribution of responsibilities. Those other people focus more on Chinese characters and traditional phonology (which are important, too.) I focus on the internationalization. All these people and myself are just waiting for younger generation to come and take over. Both Chinese characters and alphabetized writing are important: you just need to look at some karaoke/MTV videos to understand what I mean.

    There are two layers as to today’s Hoklo. One is mother-tongue popularization. One is linguistics issues. I am on the linguistics side because that’s my interest. You guys are on the other side, which is important, too, despite my disagreement with whatever systems you use. But when it comes into linguistics territories, like Middle Hoklo and interdialectal issues, you have to understand that regular romanization schemes are simply out of the league. People in http://bbs.gophor.com/hokkien/ do read academic papers.

    Hoklo goes beyond Taiwan, whether you like it or not. If you look at Tadpolenese, you will see that it attempts to build bridges: bridges to other Western cultures/languages, bridges to other Hoklo dialect groups, bridges into the past with Middle Hoklo. A lot of bridges. I’d suggest you guys consider changing the name of MLT. How are you going to be able to participate in wider forums like http://bbs.gophor.com/hokkien/ if the name of the system already sounds confrontational? I know you may want to confine the scope of MLT to Taiwan only. I respect that. But that’s never been my approach.

    Tadpolenese is the most advanced form of romanization, but it is also the one that advocates for lightheartedness and fun. Why? Because I am not interested in a “final” system. I am interested in the process, not the result. I am interested in arousing the curiosity of the younger people. As long as you have the process, as long as you have the people, there is no need to worry about the “final” system. And as I said, writing down mother tongue is really not that important. The most important part is to give young people a free mind to think. Too many social problems in East Asia happen because young people’s creativities are destroyed.

  23. My spam filter grabbed a bunch of S.C. Goh’s comments. But I didn’t notice that until a few minutes ago, which means that some essentially “new” comments (but posted days ago) don’t show up at the end of this list but earlier. So some people following this thread may wish to check through the previous posts again.

    (S.C.: If something you write doesn’t appear as soon as you click on “Submit Comment”, you don’t need to try to rewrite it in smaller pieces. Instead, just alert me by e-mail, and I’ll take care of the problem. BTW, you have my sympathies, because my own comments on others’ blogs are almost always automatically flagged as spam. So I know how annoying that can be.)

  24. Thanks, pinyin.info. Some of my posts are out of chronological sequence, as a result of wordpress submission problems. But I hope people can still follow along.

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