One of my favorite programs, Wenlin Software for Learning Chinese, is having a special sale. Normally Wenlin costs US$99. But through December 31, 2015, Wenlin is available for just US$49 for the version you can download directly to your computer (Windows or Mac OS).
Truly, there are few things more beautiful than Wenlin’s Edit → Make Transformed Copy → Pinyin transcription.
But Wenlin is filled with all sorts of other great features as well. And it comes with the electronic edition of the terrific ABC English-Chinese/Chinese-English Dictionary built in.
I love this program and use it on a near-daily basis, so I can recommend it highly.
It is my impression that most of what the bill detailed below calls for has already been enacted, so I’m not sure what’s really new here. But if those painfully obvious points indeed have not yet been codified into law, it’s about damn time. (Speaking of related things that are long overdue: how about full secondary education on Lanyu (Orchid Island), with at least some classes taught in the language there?)
Citing UNESCO on anything concerning Taiwan, whose government is excluded by the United Nations, certainly raises eyebrows. And it would surprise me if any of the languages of Taiwan’s tribes are not at least “vulnerable.” But, for the record and later reference, here’s the story.
The Executive Yuan passed a draft bill Thursday to foster the development of indigenous languages.
The draft bill states that the government should hold accreditation tests for aboriginal language proficiency and that signage written in indigenous languages should be installed at government agencies and public facilities in indigenous areas.
It will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation in the near future.
The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP, 原住民族委員會) said that Taiwan’s indigenous languages are important cultural assets and that indigenous languages are gradually dying out amid socio-cultural changes.
According to the UNESCO list of endangered languages, nine of the 42 languages and dialects spoken by Taiwan’s indigenous peoples are considered vulnerable: Amis, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Taroko, Tayal, Tsou, and Yami, while Kanakanavu, Kavalan, Saaroa, Saisiyat and Thao are in critical danger of disappearing, and Siraya is considered severely endangered.
The indigenous language development bill states that the CIP should work out a system for writing the languages, complete the compilation of teaching materials of the languages and formulate policies for their preservation.
The CIP should also hold accreditation tests for aboriginal language proficiency, work out policies to cultivate teachers of the languages, compile teaching materials and data, publish textbooks and promote the development and preservation of the languages by offering subsidies, according to the bill.
This supplies the most common male and female given names in Taiwan. If you’re writing a story about Taiwan and need “safe” names for characters, this is a good reference — at least if your story is set in the present or not too far past.
For the most common family names in Taiwan, see Taiwan personal names: a frequency list. The data there are a few years older but remain valid, with only slight changes in the order of frequency. And don’t forget that over here the family name comes first, e.g., “Chen Ya-ting,” not “Ya-ting Chen.”
Note: Although I refer to these as “Taiwanese” names, I give the Mandarin forms (since Hanyu Pinyin is a system for writing Mandarin), not names in Hoklo/Hokkien (the language often referred to as Taiwanese).
Most popular given names for Taiwanese males, born 1976–1994
Spelling Likely Used by This Person
Most popular given names for Taiwanese females, born 1976–1994
The names were derived from Chih-Hao Tsai’s list of 25 most common given names by year. I have added Pinyin and the spelling in the romanization system likely used by someone in Taiwan with that name (bastardized Wade-Giles). In addition, with the help of my wife, I assigned names to the categories of male or female.
The data are from the university entrance exams, 1994–2012. Positing that the students were age 18 when they took the exam supplies the range for years of birth.
Feel free to ask others what they think, though enlisting the aid of historians and calligraphy masters would count as cheating, as all of these examples are not from a museum or a calligraphy scroll but from a sign outside a building meant to be read by all.
If you’re a Mandarin speaker and used to reading Chinese characters, you can probably tell what the entire sign says without too much effort. But as this exercise may help to show, that is not because most people can truly read all the characters but because they can fill in the blanks, as it were, when presented with adequate context. Yes, those are all written in seal script, not in a modern style; but seal script is all that is given on the sign.
I want to stress that this isn’t a sign for a historical museum or even the Cultural Bureau. Nope, it’s for the Xinbei City Government’s Environmental Protection Department, here in lovely Banqiao. Those used to the ways of Taiwan (or maybe just the ways of the world) have probably already correctly guessed that it was the director who thought a seal-script font would be a good idea. (See the news stories below for more on that. Although the reports are from a couple of years ago, I took the photos just a couple of weeks ago.)
Don’t forget: If you want to put Chinese characters or tonal Pinyin in your comments, use the encoder first and copy and paste the results into the comments box.
Late last week, Victor Mair — with some assistance from Matt Anderson, David Moser, me, and others — wrote in “Lobsters”: a perplexing stop motion film about a short 1959 film from China that gives some Pinyin. In some cases, the Pinyin is presented for a second and then is quickly dissolved into Chinese characters. Since Victor’s post supplies only the text, I thought that I’d supplement that here with images from the film.
See the original post for translations and discussion.
The film often shows a newspaper. The headline (at 7:57) reads (or rather should read, since the first word is misspelled):
QICHE GUPIAO MENGDIE
DAPI LONGXIA ZHIXIAO
But since the image above doesn’t show the name of the paper, I’m also offering this rotated and cropped photo, that allows us to see that this is the “JIN YUAN DIGUO RI-BAO”
Elsewhere, there are again some g’s for q’s. For the first example of text dissolving from Pinyin to Chinese characters (at 2:11), I’m offering screenshots of the text in Pinyin, the text during the dissolve, and the text in Chinese characters. Later I’ll give just the Pinyin and Chinese characters.
Soon thereafter (at 2:44), we get a handwritten note.
At 3:39 we’re shown the printed notice in the newspaper of the above text.
A brief glance at the newspaper at 3:23 gives us FA CHOU, which is probably referring to the stink the bad lobsters are giving off.
Here a man is carrying a copy of Zibenlun (Das Kapital), by Makesi (Marx).
Actually, it’s not really Das Kapital, just the cover of the book; inside is a stack of decadent Western material. “MEI NE” is probably supposed to be “MEINÜ” (beautiful women).
I imagine that, in the PRC of 1959, the artists for this film must have inwardly rejoiced at the chance to draw something like that for a change, and that is also why there’s a nude on the wall in one scene.
Some eight years ago UTF-8 (Unicode) became the most used encoding on Web pages. At the time, though, it was used on only about 26% of Web pages, so it had a plurality but not an absolute majority.
By the beginning of 2010 Unicode was rapidly approaching use on half of Web pages.
In 2012 the trends were holding up.
Note that the 2008 crossover point appears different in the latter two Google graphs, which is why I’m showing all three graphs rather than just the third.
A different source (with slightly different figures) provides us with a look at the situation up to the present, with UTF-8 now on 85% of Web pages. Expansion of UTF-8 is slowing somewhat. But that may be due largely to the continuing presence of older websites in non-Unicode encodings rather than lots of new sites going up in encodings other than UTF-8.
Here’s the same chart, but focusing on encodings (other than UTF-8) that use Chinese characters, so the percentages are relatively low.
And here’s the same as the above, but with the results for individual languages combined.
By the way, Pinyin.info has been in UTF-8 since the site began way back in 2001. The reason that Chinese characters and Pinyin with tone marks appear scrambled within Pinyin News is that a hack caused the WordPress database to be set to Swedish (latin1_swedish_ci), of all things. And I haven’t been able to get it fixed; so just for the time being I’ve given up trying. One of these days….
In other words, how, for example, does the use of domains compare with the use of .tw domains?
Since, unlike the case with Singapore, I don’t have the registration figures, I’m having to make do with Google hits, which is a different measure. For this purpose, Google is unfortunately a bit of a blunt instrument. But at least it should be a fairly evenhanded blunt instrument and will be useful in establishing baselines for later comparisons.
A few notes before we get started:
Japan has yet to bother with completing the process for its own name in kanji (), so it is omitted here.
Macau only recently asked for and , so those figures are still at zero.
Oddly enough, there’s no ccTLD, even though the Ma administration, which was in power when Taiwan’s ccTLDs went into effect, officially prefers the more complex form of to — not to mention prefering it to .
Percent of Total
So in no instance does the Chinese character ccTLD reach even one half of one percent of the total for any given place.
Here are the results in a chart.
Note that the ratio of simplified:traditional forms in China and Taiwan are roughly mirror images of each other, as is perhaps to be expected.