Thursday, September 18, 2008

Daily Links, September 18, 2008

What are the blogs clinging to today?

  • Global Voices collects and translates local blog posts on the milk mess between Taiwan and China.

  • The Daily Bubble Tea points to the Taiwan B&B website.

  • Cristi Li points to Sen. Inhofe's support for a US FTA with Taiwan.

  • Hand Painted Cups Commemorating the "suppression of Taiwan" by Imperial Japanese forces.

  • A Canadian newspaper blog takes Stephen Harper to task for his non-support of Taiwan.

  • Steve Crook on bicycling from Fengyuan to Dongshih.

  • Tainted Milk, toxic pandas from Richard

  • Taoyuan Nights on Taiwanese banks.

  • Good news: Taiwan to adopt Hanyu Pinyin.

  • Red A analyzes bankruptcy pricing in China

  • Jerome comments on "fewer cases of China pressure."

  • Taiwan Airpower on the 1958 air combat from the US perspective

  • MEDIA: Asia Times on the deep connection between AIG and China. A remembrance service for the hundreds of POWs kept in Taiwan. The Solomons and Taiwan renew their agricultural agreement in pig farming, rice farming, poultry farming, and marketing. Gordon Chang comments on the Administration's refusal to sell F-16s to Taiwan. The UN once again rejects Taiwan even as another Canadian paper comes out in support of UN entry. US supports Taiwan's meaningful participation in UN. China-Taiwan cooperation against Japan in Senkaku Islands. Taiwan now second in IT competitiveness. Taiwan opens to China, and China doesn't know what to do. CNN Money reports Taiwan has $80 billion in exposure to the mess in the US. All Chinese milk products pulled from shelves in Taipei.


    Anonymous said...


    Anonymous said...

    Why is it "Good news" that Taiwan is adopting Hanyu Pinyin? That sounds like bad news to me and probably part of Ma's attempts to prepare Taiwan for its upcoming conquest by China (after all, the Chinese troops can't read traditional characters, so Hanyu Pinyin on all the street signs will be helpful).

    Michael Turton said...

    LOL to you readin....but I hate Tongyong and want to see it die a painful death. Really, we need a unified system that is international and there is only one right now.

    corey said...

    The Pinyin thing is just to standardize the romanizations seen around the island, right? Not a move to get eventually get rid of ㄅㄆㄇㄈ, which in my opinion is much more effective.

    Anonymous said...

    bbk's Chinese characters were translated by Yahoo:

    "Gansu was long-horned beetle Nepal says"

    Am I missing something?

    Anonymous said...

    Erf, Don't ask too fast to Taïwan to loose its national identity! This is important. The next step is Bopomofo i presume. It will be a sad day too.

    Anonymous said...

    @ readin @ michael

    i dont like them both. first was ever failed to reform chinese writing system second is roo much of "Beijing Mandarin" instead to became realy modern and revolutionaly. Aside that Taiwan does it wrong to follow a failed "Chinese writing system evolution"instead to drop it away and to start to follow a development of the language of own people..

    Don said...

    Michael, I'm being sort of off-topic here, but what the heck is that insect?

    Michael Turton said...

    I dunnno Don, what it is. But it sure was cute!

    Carlos said...

    I like ㄅㄆㄇㄈ too, but between hanyu pinyin and Tongyong pinyin the choice is obvious. Hanyu pinyin isn't perfect, but it's still the more logical of the two.

    As for identity... I don't see how it plays into this. It's still Mandarin, after all. Taiwan's other languages won't be saved by moving towards hanyu or sticking with Tongyong pinyin. Heck, the PRC seems to do a better job than the ROC at teaching Mandarin without killing off all the other languages in the country.

    Anonymous said...

    I really don't think it matters what form the Pin Yin takes as long as they have a unified form for Taiwan. Each country that does not use a romanized alphabet has a system. Korean romanization is different from Japanese and Hanyu and anything else.

    I did have a mistake with Hanyu yesterday that was the result of the Taiwanese accent.

    I was translating the Taichung Mayor's name into Hanyu Pinyin, but I forgot the second character is "zhi" and not "zi". I think a lot of Taiwanese have this problem. Also between "eng" and "en".

    Tommy said...

    I too am a fan of the insect photo. I bet he would bite my finger off though. Beware of cuddly insects clinging to leaves.

    I think the pinyin move is positive. The fact is, foreign language programmes everywhere made the switch to pinyin long ago. Therefore, foreigners who learn Chinese will most likely be the most comfortable with Hanyu Pinyin.

    The street signs with the multiple spellings are confusing, and they make finding addresses troublesome. Add to this the preference of foreigners who actually do know some Chinese for pinyin, and the switch is logical.

    This isn't about national identity or about adapting the romanisation to how the locals speak. They already know how to speak Chinese, and the zhuyin system serves them well when they learn it. This is about making Taiwan more accessible to non-Taiwanese, no matter where they come from.

    If only the People's Liberation Army actually had to find its way by reading street signs, Taiwan would be much better off ;)I personally think that Taiwan should tell China that it welcomes the PLA as long as it can choose the point of entry. That point should be an airlift that sets the PLA... tanks and all... right down in the middle of Zhonghe. No matter what the romanisation system on the street signs were, the PLA would be forever lost... doomed to roam the streets of darkest Taipei county for all eternity.

    Unknown said...

    I, too, am happy if Tongyong Pinyin withers away. It is a stupid system. There are some things in Tongyong that make sense and are intuitive (like J instead of Zh), but really, Tongyong is an absurd and perverse system.

    If only the primary schools taught pinyin to schools here instead of, or at least as well as, bopomofo. I don't think bopomofo is a bad thing to learn. I just think that having it as the primary and only method of phonetic rendering hinders students from learning non-Chinese language systems, be they Spanish, English, French, etc.

    Also, readin's comments about Chinese troops not being able to read traditional characters is absurd. Evidently, readin has never met a real 中國人. Every one of them I have met in Canada, with only two or three years in Canada under their belt could not only read pinyin perfectly (but can't read/understand bopomofo - and therein lies the rub), but could read and understand traditional characters. Unlike the educational system here in Taiwan, where students are not only unable to read romanized Chinese pinyin, but are also unable, a good deal of the time, to identify a good deal of the "simplified" characters.

    Nonetheless, I am all for keeping so-called traditional characters. I am not for keeping the current educational system, however. There are a few things about the educational system in 中國 must be working better. I am saying in some areas of course, not in all areas. Just some areas.

    Anonymous said...

    I can't say I learned all the differences between the Tongyong and Hanyu systems - the little Chinese I know was learned on bopomofo - but to me the important thing is having a standard that was somewhat legible. When I lived in Taipei some roads and towns would have multiple spellings. That could be very confusing to visitors.

    Tongyong is fine as a standard. It is also close enough to Hanyu that anyone who cares enough to learn the details of one can easily learn the small differences. Sure the two-week visitor isn't going to learn, but it won't matter to them anyway that a Chungshan in Taiwan isn't spelled the same as a mountain of the same name in China. Only the people who put a lot of time into studying Chinese are going to notice the differences and they can easily learn both.

    The differences between the systems are even easier to learn than the differences between British and American spellings of English words, and no one ever complains they can only read one and not the other. And like the difference between British and American spellings, it provides an example of how the two countries are different. Indeed, it provides an example of how the differences between China and Taiwan are like the differences between the UK and America - similar culture, similar spellings, same language, mostly common ancestry, etc. but two entirely different countries.

    I hope Tongyong doesn't go quickly and will still be around enough for the DPP to try to revive in 4 (hopefully) years.

    Anonymous said...

    "mostly common ancestry, etc. but two entirely different countries"


    Issued by the Ministry of Silly Talk.

    channing said...

    Tongyong Pinyin deserves to die because of several compellingly logical reasons:

    1) It's a bastardized copy of Hanyu Pinyin. They took Pinyin and skewed it to make it "different" for the sake of being different. If Hanyu Pinyin were intellectual property, somebody could actually sue.

    2) It is grossly incorrect in its over-reliance on English sounds that will confuse speakers of other Latin-rooted languages (except the sound "Ciao", but even this may be rooted in English usage of the word)

    3) It was born from a political background and carries political partisanship in its mere existence

    TicoExpat said...

    Regarding the pic, I think it is some kind of long-horned beetle.

    Yep, it bites.

    Thomas, doing that to the PLA counts as cruel and unusual punishment.

    Adopting the Hanyu is highly political and controversial, but to those of us who struggle with Tonyong everyday, and those who come fresh from abroad and get lost, it is still a step in the right direction. Next would be learning English to communicate and not to memorize the most words...

    J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...


    Am surprised to see the National Post publish an op-ed in support of Taiwanese participation at the UN, given the conservative paper's very, very cold reception to a piece I had written arguing in favor of Taiwan membership at the WHA/WHO (old news, passe, I was told by the editorial staff). It's nice to see people like Dr. Knight starting to raise the matter with Canadian readers, too.

    Anonymous said...

    Mandarin without killing off all the other languages in the country.--

    actualy PRC is going to kill them all. stupid is that PRC banned this topic from world media and science.

    Tommy said...

    "Heck, the PRC seems to do a better job than the ROC at teaching Mandarin without killing off all the other languages in the country."

    You mean like how they have preserved Manchu, which is slated to die out within a few years? I would say that the PRC government is only interested in preserving both minority dialects and cultures so far as they emphasise how "tolerant" a place China is. Any country that can do a minority switcheroo like China did with the minority children during the opening ceremony, then act as though this was not a big deal, is not thinking in terms of minority cultural preservation.

    Anonymous said...

    But personally I feel it's Taiwan's language. And it's sort of integrated in their culture. I mean that's what makes Taiwan different from other chinese country. If we lose this too, how far are we away from losing our identity

    Carlos said...

    Didn't know about Manchu in the PRC. All I know is that pretty much all of the Chinese people I meet in the US know their local language just as well as they know Mandarin (these are all "Han" languages I'm talking about, maybe they're treated better). But only 20-40% of Taiwanese in the US seem to know any Taiwanese or Hakka at all. Even in Kaohsiung, where I do hear a lot of Taiwanese, it's mostly among older generations. Fujianese has a better future in China than in Taiwan.

    Thoth, in my experience most Chinese in the US (who are not from Hong Kong) don't read traditional characters. If you're meeting Chinese from outside HK who know traditional characters, I have to say I'm surprised.

    I wouldn't mind simplified characters if the system made sense, like if radicals were simplified consistently. Instead, it's based on what cursive Chinese looks like... I don't find it logical at all.

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting how everyone's getting hyped up over this decision. First off a key question: Does the pinyin version matter at all?

    From my perspective, as long as all the street signs line up with the street names in the maps/tour guides (printed material) then it should be all good. As long as people are able to get around then it doesn't really matter what pinyin it is.

    Naturally then people will argue that Hanyu is better since the pronounciation is more natural. So? When do you see people pronouncing the pinyin on street signs? My point is that I don't see that many people actually reading the pinyin and then trying to say it.

    Besides, wouldn't a map be faster as then you could simply match the names together?

    So I think Tongyong (even Wade-Giles) is workable as people can just match the names up.

    Anycase I guess most pinyin users should be grateful to CKS for beating (literally) mandarin into the local population. Imagine trying to read romanized Taiwanese signs. A little something to think about...

    Oh, and to channing: Mandarin carries more political baggage than tongyong ever will.

    Mark said...

    Thoth, I think it's all about the HK movies and KTV. That's why they can read traditional characters so well.

    Anonymous said...

    Anycase I guess most pinyin users should be grateful to CKS for beating (literally) mandarin into the local population. Imagine trying to read romanized Taiwanese signs. A little something to think about...

    If I read one of Michael Turton's earlier posts correctly, most of the streets were named in Japanese by the people who built them, so without CKS the street signs would be in Romanized Japanese which is much easier to read than either Hanyu or Tongyong Pinyin.

    But only 20-40% of Taiwanese in the US seem to know any Taiwanese or Hakka at all.

    I don't know what age group you're dealing with, but many of the older Taiwanese in the U.S. were from families that came from China and briefly stopped in Taiwan on their way to America. Of course they don't know Hakka or Taiwanese. The the real Taiwanese of the time were oppressed by the Chinese and couldn't afford to travel. At least, that's the story I've heard.

    From my perspective, as long as all the street signs line up with the street names in the maps/tour guides (printed material) then it should be all good.

    That's my opinion as well. Other than naming things for foreigners, the pinyins are hardly used. For serious students who use the pinyin for learning, the systems are similar enough that learning both should not present a problem.

    Anonymous said...

    What the heck is wrong with Tongyong Pinyin? If it were consistently applied throughout the island, how would it be hard to learn? It's so close to Hanyu Pinyin. You can learn it just by analogy if you know the pronunciations of a few of the words.

    The problem is the lack of tone markers. It's really hard for Taiwanese to understand when foreigners make up this really weird accent that is neither based on Mandarin or English and the lack of tones exacerbates this.

    You are all completely ignoring the fact that you can read transliterated names and know right away whether the person is from Taiwan or from China. I think this is worth preserving.

    Also, you're throwing away all the value that has already been built up, in terms of marketing and recognition if you change the spelling of all the place names again.

    Anonymous said...

    By the way, I find it pretty ridiculous to criticize Tongyong Pinyin for not being close to the English pronunciation. How could Xiang (Hanyu Pinyin) for example possibly be pronounced correctly by someone that did not know Mandarin? It's no where close to the English "guess" of its pronunciation. Or how about Yi?

    Anonymous said...

    That bug is a long-horned beetle-- Cerambycidae

    Tommy said...

    "All I know is that pretty much all of the Chinese people I meet in the US know their local language just as well as they know Mandarin"

    I think you have to consider trends. Within China, the influence is very much on using "Putonghua" rather than local dialects to create a more unified China. This is similar to France in the 19th century. Large regions spoke other dialects, but the government forced the language from Ile-de-France down the throat of the rest of the country. China is in that stage now. One dialect is promoted and it is also seen by the young as a path for advancement.

    The reason why you know so many Chinese who speak a local dialect is because the regions where people speak those dialects are as large as many countries, so the dialects are still quite widespread. But the young will not typically use the local dialect for official and work purposes. And I have never heard of a movement to preserve the major local dialects within China, probably because most of the major ones are still so widespread.

    The people you have met abroad can speak both because Chinese who are educated enough to go abroad typically have learned Mandarin to an advanced degree. The question is, do they come from areas where their dialect is valued enough to preserve it in the long run?

    Taiwan is not a model for the preservation of languages, I'm sure. I am just taking issue with the statement that China is doing a better job at teaching Mandarin without letting the local languages die out. This has less to do with an effort to preserve minority languages than it does with the difficulties of effacing dialects that have been spoken by majorities in regions the size of countries for centuries.

    corey said...

    I would have to argue against Hanyu being easier and better, just because they don't use the crazy x and q sounds that don't really make sense.

    Also, adding an "h" at the end of words like 次 (cih) would help in realizing you don't end with a long I sound. In many ways, tongyong pinyin makes a lot more sense...I'm all for ITS standardization, 哈.

    And, yes, I do think "jhih" is better than "zhi" and "syuan" is better than "xuan"...they are just more accurate, phonetically. And "fong" kicks "feng's" ass any day.

    Other than a few examples, they aren't all that different, except for where it really matters, where tongyong does a better job.

    Oh, and Thomas, pick another starting location for the PLA...that is where my girlfriend lives!

    Tommy said...

    "How could Xiang (Hanyu Pinyin) for example possibly be pronounced correctly by someone that did not know Mandarin? "

    I disagree. You can instruct someone to say the sounds correctly as long as there is consistency. Tell them that the XI is halfway between an s and an sh, have them repeat after you, tell them what their tongue is supposed to do, and they will get it. It isn't that hard. I learned Hanyu Pinyin in my first year of Chinese and I have never had trouble with the pronunciation of Chinese. Remembering the tones though is something else...

    Anonymous said...

    A well-known issue with languages in China (among others) is the government's notorious ruthlessness with trying to kill Shanghainese. Still a lot of Shanghainese speak it, but it's banned in the media while Cantonese and Minnan are not (with Minnan even promoted in some ways!).

    Tommy said...

    "pick another starting location for the PLA...that is where my girlfriend lives!"

    I don't think you have to worry. The way Zhong He is laid out, they could be the next street over from your girlfriend and still never find the way around the block.

    Anonymous said...

    Thomas: if you already speak Mandarin, and can read just a nominal amount, you can "get" tongyong pinyin by just seeing a few examples. The cost is minimal, as long as it is consistent. Consistency and tone markers are the key, and there is value in being different from China, purely from a branding perspective.

    Tommy said...

    "Cantonese and Minnan are not"

    The PRC is stuck with these two for the time being. Hong Kongers are way too proud of their language, and that dialect, and Hong Kong culture influences most of Guangdong.

    I would guess banning Minnan would make them look bad in the eyes of many Taiwanese.

    channing said...

    All the discussion of banning and not banning local languages and dialects in China really doesn't ring with me. There are so many regional dialects and variations that there's no way to "ban" them.

    Languages like Minnan, Cantonese, Shanghainese, etc. continue to flourish and are becoming more well-known all over China as various subcultures compete for nationwide attention. Some don't know that, and some don't want to believe it.

    For the Anonymous that tells me Mandarin politically dominates Taiwan, I believe you missed my point: Tongyong is a COPY. It was composed and institutionalized as political firepower.

    Anonymous said...

    channing it's easy: you can forbid the language from public use, such as in tv, radio, music, schools, etc, and people will get the message that it's only a private language suitable for use when talking to your parents. that's essentially what happened in taiwan. many people were ashamed of speaking taiwanese, to the extent that some people still are today.

    cantonese and min-nan haven't gotten that treatment, with hk obviously the dialect of prestige and unconvertible, at least for the time being.