President-elect Ma favors Hanzi-only writing of Taiwanese: report

If the Chen Shui-bian administration had bothered to do much of anything really useful to promote Taiwanese, especially as a written language, then we probably wouldn’t be faced with crap like this.

President-elect Ma Ying-jeou met last week with Chen Fang-ming (???), the chairman of the Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature at National Chengchi University (Zhèng-Dà). Although Professor Chen is a former DPP official and supported Frank Hsieh in the recent election, the two reportedly found much to agree on, such as that the idea that Chinese characters are all that are needed for literature in Taiwanese; romanization and other such phonetic spellings, they agreed, aren’t necessary.

Z?ngt?ng d?ngxu?nrén M? Y?ngji? j?nti?n bàihuì Zhèng-Dà Táiw?n wénxué yánji?su? su?zh?ng Chén F?ngmíng, t? bi?oshì li?ng rén j?nti?n tándào b?nt?huà, zhu?nxíng zhèngyì, b?nt? wénxué, dàxué píng jiàn d?ng yìtí, lìng t? y?u “k?ngg?zúy?n” zh? g?n, li?ng rén h?n du? kànf? d?u bùmóu’érhé, lìrú Chén F?ngmíng rènwéi zh?yòng Zh?ngwén xi?, Héluòhuà niàn, jiùshì Táiy? wénxué, bùy?dìng kèyì yào yòng Luóm?zì, y?n lái p?n.

This is certainly discouraging though not unexpected news for romanization supporters — and for those whose idea of Taiwanese lit isn’t stuck in the Qing dynasty or even earlier. But there’s always hope that this is another of those times in which Ma is simply persuaded by or agreeing with whatever is in front of him; and he may change his mind later. Regardless, though, it doesn’t augur well for a modern Taiwanese literature or for government work on — much less promotion of — romanization over the next four years.

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2 thoughts on “President-elect Ma favors Hanzi-only writing of Taiwanese: report

  1. Notice the key sentence here: that one doesn’t necessarily have to write Taiwanese in romanization, which is both perfectly true and a lot different from ‘just don’t use any romanization ever.’

    Plus, it’s hard to say if someone prompted this particular response (a reporter, perhaps) with a loaded question.

    In any case, the DPP is working along these lines (producing a standard character for all disputed Taiwanese words) due to the psychological attachment people have to characters. Even if some people working on this effort personally believe a total romanization system would be easier and faster to teach, they know the vast majority of Taiwanese couldn’t accept that right now.

    The DPP has been working on this from the very beginning of their first term, albeit way too slowly.

  2. Actually, I think that it would be better for Taiwanese to be written using hanzi only, and I don’t think that I’m stuck in any dynasty.

    I learned pehoeji and use it on my blogs, but given the fact that no administration has undertaken a serious effort to teach or use Taiwanese in the classroom–or ever will, apparently–and the fact that everyone in Taiwan can already read hanzi, it would be better to just use characters.

    Many of the “official” karaoke characters are downright stupid, but with a relatively small handful of rare/odd/borrowed characters, most anyone who already speaks Taiwanese to some extent can start to read very quickly.

    Think of it as a software patch. No need to bring in a whole new operating system, especially since Taiwanese is, barring some sort of unforseen groundswell of linguistic fervor, heading for the edge of the cliff.

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