Mandarin teaching in Thailand: Taiwanese teachers choosing Hanyu Pinyin

The following quote sums up a recent article on Taiwanese who are teaching Mandarin at universities in Thailand:

jiùsuàn yǒu lǎoshī cǎiyòng ㄅㄆㄇ jiāoxué, zuìzhōng háishi huíguī dào Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, zhìyú Tōngyòng Pīnyīn, gēnběn méiyǒu rén shǐyòng.

(Even if some teachers employ bopo mofo in [the early stages of] their teaching, they still ultimately revert to Hanyu Pinyin. As for Tongyong Pinyin, essentially no one uses it.)

In the penultimate paragraph, a teacher takes what for traditional Chinese education is often seen as a radical position: content over form.

“Wǒmen kěyǐ yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, yòng fántǐzì qù tuīxíng Táiwān wénhuà, zhè shì bu chōngtū de. Wǒ yòng jiǎntǐzì jiǎng Táiwān, dàjiā dōu rènshi Táiwān le, wǒmen yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn jièshào Táiwān, dàjiā dōu rènshi Táiwān le.”

(”We can use Hanyu Pinyin and traditional Chinese characters to promote Taiwan culture; these are not conflicting. I use simplified Chinese characters to talk about Taiwan; everyone learned about Taiwan. We use Hanyu Pinyin to introduce Taiwan; everyone learned about Taiwan.”)

In the final paragraph, the reporter editorializes along the same lines. (Editorializing in news articles is a common practice here.) It’s perhaps worthy of note that this comes from what was until recently a KMT-run television network — one that remains very “blue.”

Here’s the whole article:

Táiwān nèibù, jīhū měigé yīzhènzi, jiùyào chūxiàn guānyú “wénzì” de yìshi xíng tài zhēngzhí, bāokuò jiǎntǐzì fántǐzì, bāokuò Tōngyòng Pīnyīn yǔ Hànyǔ Pīnyīn. Hǎoxiàng yòng hé dàlù bù yīyàng de xìtǒng, jiùshì ài Táiwān, jiùshì tūxiǎn Táiwān zhǔtǐ yìshi.

Rán’ér, zhè duì ài Táiwān zhēn de yǒu bāngzhù ma? Duì qiánghuà Táiwān zhǔtǐ yìshi zhēn de yǒu bāngzhù ma?

Zhè shì zài Tàiguó dàxué lǐ, xuéshengmen shàng Zhōngwén kè de qíngkuàng. Suīrán méiyǒu tǒngyī de jiàocái, dàn dàduōshù de lǎoshī shǐyòng de háishi jiǎntǐ Zhōngwén bǎnběn, jiāo de yěshì Hànyǔ Pīnyīn.

Rajamangala Kējì Dàxué Zhōngwén kèchéng zhǔrèn Fú Cuì-lán lǎoshī jiù zhíyán, wèile zài Tàiguó tuīdòng Huáyǔ kèchéng, tā duì Huáyǔ lǎoshī de yāoqiú zhǐyǒu yī ge, jiùshì shǐyòng jiǎntǐ Zhōngwén: “Xiànzài wǒmen yī shuōdào Hànyǔ, tāmen jiù shuō bù xué, juéde Hànyǔ hěn nán, wǒ yào jiéshù zhèige gàiniàn, bāng tā mànmàn de xuéxí, ràng tā zhīdao Hànyǔ bù shì hěn nán de, kěyǐ xué de.”

Shìshíshàng duì dàduōshù de Tàiguó xuésheng láishuō, xuéxí Zhōngwén de dònglì shì yīnwèi Zhōngwén zhújiàn biànchéng qiángshì yǔyán, gōutōng duì tāmen ér yán zuì zhòngyào. Xiàofāng de kǎoliáng bù nán lǐjiě.

Zhìyú pīnyīn fāngshì jiù gèng bùyòng shuō le, jiùsuàn yǒu lǎoshī cǎiyòng ㄅㄆㄇ jiāoxué, zuìzhōng háishi huíguī dào Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, zhìyú Tōngyòng Pīnyīn, gēnběn méiyǒu rén shǐyòng.

Wālái’ālōnggōng huángjiā dàxué (ed.: Walailak University) de Zhōngwén lǎoshī Liú Yǎ-píng shuōchū tā de kǎoliáng: “Zhīqián méiyǒu xiān jiāo ㄅㄆㄇ, tāmen zhíjiē jiēchù Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, jiù huì bèi Yīngwén de niàn fǎ wùdǎo, suǒyǐ hòulái zhǐyào líng chéngdu, wǒ jiù huì xiān jiāo ㄅㄆㄇ, bǎ fāyīn wěnzhù, wěnzhù zhīhòu jiù zhuǎn guòlai jiāo Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, bìjìng Hàn pīn zhēn de shì xiànzài Ōu-Měi guójiā, bǐjiào pǔbiàn de gōngjù.”

Lìngyī wèi yóu Tái-Shī-Dà péixùn qiánwǎng Tàiguó jiāo Zhōngwén de lǎoshī Lín Hóng-zhèng yě zhǐchū, gāng dào Tàiguó shí, yǒu xǔduō Zhōngwén lǎoshī duìyú gāi shǐyòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn háishi Tōngyòng Pīnyīn ér zhēngzhá, dàjiā zuìhòu dōu xuǎnzé le Hànyǔ Pīnyīn. Bìjìng guójì dà huánjìng shǐyòng de shì Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, tāmen bùnéng ràng Tàiguó xuésheng xuéxí yī tào bùnéng yòng de pīnyīn xìtǒng. Lín Hóng-zhèng yě rènwéi, shǐyòng nǎ yī tào xìtǒng, qíshí gēnběn bìngbù zhòngyào: “Yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn jiùshì hóngmàozi jiùshì róng gòng, zhè gēnběn méiyǒu guānxi. Wǒmen kěyǐ yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, yòng fántǐzì qù tuīxíng Táiwān wénhuà, zhè shìbu chōngtū de. Wǒ yòng jiǎntǐzì jiǎng Táiwān, dàjiā dōu rènshi Táiwān le, wǒmen yòng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn jièshào Táiwān, dàjiā dōu rènshi Táiwān le.”

Cóng Tàiguó tuīdòng Huáyǔ kèchéng de jīngyàn lái kàn, guónèi jìnxíng Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Tōngyòng Pīnyīn zhīlèi de zhēngbiàn, qíshí xiāngdāng kěxiào. Yóuqí xiàng Táiwān zhèyàng yī ge xiǎo dǎoguó, zhèngfǔ lǎoshi xiǎngzhe zhèngmíng, xiǎngzhe yào yǔ Zhōngguó dàlù qūgé de xìtǒng, bùguò ràng zìjǐ de guójì kōngjiān gèngwéi xiá’ài. Zěnyàng cáinéng ràng Táiwān zǒu chūqu, nándào zhèxiē yǔ qítā guójiā hùdòng de jīngyàn, hái bù zúyǐ gěi diǎn jǐngxùn ma?

source: Cóng Tàiguó tuīdòng Huáyǔ kèchéng kàn guónèi Huáyǔ yìshi xíng tài zhī zhēng (從泰國推動華語課程看國內華語意識型態之爭), 中廣新聞網 (BCC), March 3, 2007

rice pizza = ‘mizza’

advertising photo of Pizza Hut's rice pizza; the copy reads '米zza 超ㄏㄤ美味新鮮fun'Something written with three different scripts (Chinese characters, zhuyin, and the roman alphabet) is very much the sort of thing that attracts my attention, as is a product that mixes scripts in its name. So this ad for a new product from Taiwan’s Pizza Hut definitely caught my eye, though it did not inspire me to actually taste the item being touted, which is a rice pizza. (Generally, I do not care for pizzas with Taiwanese characteristics, such as those with peas, corn, or squid. For that matter, I don’t even like pineapple on pizza.)

The name for this rice pizza, “米zza” (mǐzza), is a portmanteau — using two different languages and two different scripts, no less. 米 is the Chinese character for , which is used mainly in rice- and other grain-associated words. The second part of the word comes, of course, from “pizza.”

Let’s move on to the slogan:

米zza 超ㄏㄤ美味 新鮮fun

In romanization, this is

mǐzza: chāo hāng měiwèi — xīnxiān fun

Here we have Chinese characters (zza ㄏㄤ美味新鮮fun), zhuyin (米zza 超ㄏㄤ美味新鮮fun), and the Roman alphabet (米zza 超ㄏㄤ美味新鮮fun). Three scripts in just one line! (Yes, yes, I know that a line in written Japanese will often have just as many scripts, if not more; but this is Mandarin.)

The zhuyin, ㄏㄤ, represent hāng, a new slang word that, according to several people I have asked, has appeared within the last five years at most. It means “hot” in the sense of “extremely popular right now.”

Also, there’s a possibility that the English word “fun” is meant to echo the Mandarin fàn (飯 / 饭/ “rice”). Such puns across languages are not uncommon here, especially in local Internet slang.

So, the whole slogan might be translated as “Rice pizza: the super-’hot’ delicious food — fresh, new fun.” Sorry, that’s not a very good translation; it works better in Mandarin.

I predict such portmanteaux and mixing will be increasingly common here in Taiwan, where code switching is a way of life for many people. “Mǐzza” could be the wave of the future — just not the culinary future, I hope.

source: Taiwan Pizza Hut menu page, accessed January 30, 2007

ensure zhuyin is taught thoroughly: education official

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education is worried that with so many students entering first grade already knowing zhuyin fuhao, having learned it from their parents or at a buxiban (cram school) or preschool, some teachers are neglecting to ensure that all their students have a thorough grounding in this script. Since zhuyin is used to help teach students Chinese characters, a lack of proficiency in reading zhuyin could severely hamper a child’s ability to perform well in school.

I’ve seen reports from China of related worries there — but regarding Pinyin, not zhuyin, of course.

The original article in Chinese characters is no longer online, so I’m supplying the full text in Pinyin (which is all I have now).

Kāixué le, duì xiǎo yī xīnshēng láishuō, zhùyīn fúhào shì yǔwén lǐngyù de zhòngdiǎn, yuē xū shàngkè 10 zhōu, què yīn bùshǎo yòuzhìyuán yǐ tíqián jiāo guò, bùfen xiǎo yī lǎoshī yǐ duōshù xuésheng yǐ xuéhuì, lüèguò bù jiāo. Jiàoyùbù zuótiān zhǐchū, rúguǒ yǒu zhèizhǒng qíngxing, jiāzhǎng yīnggāi xiàng lǎoshī hé xuéxiào fǎnyìng.

Jiǔ nián yīguàn kèchéng guīdìng, xiǎo yī shàng xuéqī jiùyào shúxí, rèn dú, zhèngquè shūxiě zhùyīn fúhào yǐjí pīnyīn fāngfǎ, Jiàoyùbù guójiào sī guānyuán biǎoshì, wǎngnián dōu yǒu bùshǎo jiāzhǎng tóusù, bàoyuàn xiǎo yī de lǎoshī yīnwèi bān shàng duōshù xuésheng yǐjing xuéhuì zhùyīn fúhào, shěnglüè bù jiāo, yǐngxiǎng qítā xuésheng de shòujiào quán.

Jiàoyùbù zhōngyāng kèchéng yǔ jiāoxué yǔwén kē fǔdǎo zīxún lǎoshī Wú Huì-huā zhǐchū, shàngxué qīyuē yǒu 21 dào 22 zhōu, gēnjù kèchéng ānpái, xiǎo yī zhùyīn fúhào yào shàng 10 zhōu, zhīhòu lǎoshī huì kāishǐ jiāo guózì.

Wú Huì-huā shuō, gè bǎnběn kèběn yǒuguān zhùyīn fúhào jiàofǎ bùtóng, xiànzài yǐ hěn shǎo ànzhào zìmǔ shùnxù, yǒude zhào mǔyīn, yǒude zé ànzhào kèběn nèiróng, rú “xiǎo bái’é, ài chànggē” zhōng, huì xiān jiāo bǐjiào jiǎndān de “ㄅ” “ㄍ” děng, bùshǎo lǎoshī dàgài lìyòng 8, 9 zhōu shàng wán, jiēzhe tì xuésheng fùxí.

Wú Huì-huā shuō, bùshǎo jiāzhǎng pà lǎoshī bù jiāo zhùyīn fúhào, háizi shū zài qǐpǎoxiàn shàng, yīncǐ shàng yòuzhìyuán shí, huò xiǎo yī rùxué qián, jiùràng háizi xiān xué, huò qù bǔxí.

Gēnjù guānchá, xiǎo yīshēng yuē yǒu 6, 7 chéng yǐ huì zhùyīn fúhào, dàn chéngdu luòchā hěn dà, bùshǎo xuésheng kàn le huì niàn, dàn pīnxiě bù chūlai.

Wú Huì-huā biǎoshì, jíshǐ bān shàng yībàn yǐshàng xuésheng dōu yǐ xuéhuì zhùyīn fúhào, lǎoshī háishi yīnggāi ànzhào kèbiǎo shàngkè, yóuqí bùnéng fàngqì hái bù huì de xuésheng, gèng yào zhùyì chéngdu shàng de luòchā.

Zhùyīn fúhào jí pīnzì shì guówén zhòngyào jīchǔ, Wú Huì-huā shuō, jiāzhǎng měitiān kě huā yīdiǎn shíjiān, yào háizi lǎngdú shàngkè de nèiróng, tì háizi fùxí, duì háizi xuéxíhuì yǒu bāngzhù, dàn bùbì tài jiāolǜ, bùxū wéixué zhùyīn fúhào qù bǔxí.

source: Xiǎo yī bù jiāo zhùyīn — jiāzhǎng kě fǎnyìng (小一不教注音 家長可反映), September 1, 2006

Courage… Cabnap… Grunplitk: zhuyin and the movie Fearless

Many Westerners are so attracted by Chinese characters, which tend to be absurdly exoticized as symbols [sic] or ideograms [sic] of deep meaning, that they place them here and there as if they were some sort of pixie dust that bestows coolness upon any object (or body). Often when they do so, they write these characters incorrectly or are mistaken about their meaning, as Tian of Hanzi Smatter continues to note. But you’d think that at least those who make trailers for Chinese movies would be a little better informed.

Fearless (Mandarin title: Huò Yuánji? / ???), which is billed as Jet Li’s final martial-arts movie, has been out in Asia since January but won’t reach the States until later this year. (I have no plans to see this movie, which appears from the trailer to be a string of the usual clichés. And, anyway, I have yet to forgive Jet Li for appearing in Hero, which is probably the biggest cinematic valentine to totalitarianism since Triumph of the Will.) One of the trailers for Fearless features a number of Chinese characters. They’re even written correctly. But, oddly enough, interspersed with the Chinese characters are zhuyin fuhao, also known as bopo mofo, a semi-syllabic script used in Taiwan mainly to help teach children to read. Odder still, the zhuyin make absolutely no sense.

Here’s how Taiwanonymous, on whose site I found this story, puts it:

Intercut with scenes from the movie was a burnt-yellow background, suggesting aged parchment, with Chinese characters flying past. Along with the Chinese characters were some Mandarin phonetic symbols (zhuyin fuhao ????). It’s bad enough that they included phonetic symbols (which are mainly used in Children’s books) in the flying sea of what wanted to be an ancient Chinese text, but the symbols flew past in strings of gibberish! Imagine the following text dramatically moving across the screen, “Integrity… Peace… Courage… Cabnap… Grunplitk… Uwsugls.” Gives you chills just thinking about it.

Here’s a screenshot from the trailer:
gibberish zhuyin in the background

Just below COMING SOON is a giant ?. For something written in English this would be the equivalent of putting a large letter G on the screen.

Along the right side of the screen is the following, in zhuyin fuhao: ?????. This, in Hanyu Pinyin, would be “maixrici,” which is complete gibberish. The other vertical lines of text are also nonsense in zhuyin fuhao.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with how these are written. It’s just that they’re no more meaningful than a random string of letters.

Here’s one more shot:
gibberish zhuyin in the background
The zhuyin fuhao on the left read, from top to bottom, ?????, which would be “chjktp” in Hanyu Pinyin. As I think should be obvious even to those who don’t know Mandarin or any other Sinitic language, this is simply nonsense.

sources:

bopomofo: the band

I suppose it was inevitable: a Taiwan band named after bopomofo (a.k.a. zhuyin fuhao), the semi-syllabic script still used in Taiwan schools in place of a romanization system. I need to remember to ask Poagao or Sandy of David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers if the band is any good.

So, does anyone know if anyone in China or elsewhere has named a band after Pinyin? So-and-so and the Hanyu Pinyins might work for a doo-wop group; but I’m guessing that particular musical style has never really taken off in China. So there’s probably not much hope either for “Y.R. Chao and the Gwoyeu Romatzyhs.” But maybe a punk or metal band could name itself Tongyong.

via The Real Taiwan blog