pro-Hanyu Pinyin Taipei mayor elected head of KMT

On July 16 Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was elected KMT chairman by a wide margin. Ma was behind Taipei’s welcome switch from bastardized Wade-Giles to Hanyu Pinyin.

Most advocates of Tongyong Pinyin, which Taiwan’s central government has adopted but not made mandatory throughout the country, like to tout the made-in-Taiwan aspect of their system. This is simply another way to oppose China. And perhaps the KMT of today, with its relatively cozy good relations with Beijing, would indeed generally favor Hanyu Pinyin. But it’s important to remember that the KMT in the past opposed Hanyu Pinyin. The KMT government’s decision back in 1986 to come up with a new romanization system was a direct result of the growing popularity of Hanyu Pinyin elsewhere and an increased understanding in Taiwan of the failure — at least in implementation — of Gwoyeu Romatzyh. So MPS2 was devised in reaction to Hanyu Pinyin. Predictably, it received little attention or support despite its nominally official status. In the end MPS2 was used basically nowhere but on some street signs. And so Tongyong Pinyin replaced another system that was already made in Taiwan.

If the KMT had backed Hanyu Pinyin a long time ago, the romanization situation in Taiwan wouldn’t be such a mess.

I believe Ma’s support for Hanyu Pinyin is not the result of politics but a recognition that the system is what the majority of Taiwan’s foreign population wants.

A note here on Ma’s preferred spelling of his name. In hanzi it is 馬英九. In Hanyu Pinyin it would be Mǎ Yīngjiǔ. But the standard romanization of his name is “Ma Ying-jeou.” The “jeou” certainly evokes the Gwoyeu Romatzyh tonal spelling system. But in GR Ma’s name would be Maa Ingjeou. Very curious.

One thought on “pro-Hanyu Pinyin Taipei mayor elected head of KMT

  1. Now all we need to do is convince Ma and Wu Qingji, future MOE head, to fix Taipei -> Taibei, etc. when he hopefully gets elected in 2008.

    Also introducing Hanyu Pinyin to high schoolers so they can at least spell their names wouldn’t hurt.

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