Mon, Nov 15, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Promote Tongyong Pinyin

By Charles Hong

Rome was not built in a day. Neither can Romanization be completed overnight. Politically, Taiwan has gone through difficult processes of decolonization and democratization. But Romanization of location names in Taiwan will be as easy as "ABC."

In essence, Tongyong Pinyin for Romanization is different from Hanyu Pinyin only in three consonants.

A major advantage of Tongyong is to use "ci" and "si" instead of the two puzzling consonants "q" and "x" in Hanyu.

For foreigners and Taiwanese with or without Hanyu background, it will be much easier to read. For example, it's Banciao and Sindian in Tongyong instead of Banqiao and Xindian in Hanyu. The other different consonant is "jh" in Tongyong instead of "zh" in Hanyu, for example Jhanghua v. Zhanghua.

Another advantage of Tongyong is its versatility for different languages in Taiwan or even major languages in the world. For example, in Hoeloe (a Tongyong spelling of "Hoklo," also known as Taiwanese -Ed) language ("oe" is the German umlaut of "o"), Banciao, Sindian and Jhanghua will be pronounced as Banggioe, Sindiam and Jionghua.

Another Hoeloe example is "oea" for oyster and "oa" for taro. In contrast, Hanyu does not have "oe" or "iam" among others.

There are no reasons for Mayor Ma Ying-jeou to reject Tongyong and adopt Hanyu in Taipei unless he really wants Taiwan to become a country with two systems. I hope he will not become a horse troubling the whole herd. Using his excellent English, he can learn the three different Tonyong consonants in three minutes.

His Mandarin is also perfect, but is different from Mandarin spoken in China. In the same manner, Tongyong is easy and versatile although it is slightly different from Hanyu.

I would not be surprised if, someday, China wanted to adopt Tongyong for its convenience and general applicability.

As the leading English newspaper in Taiwan, the Taipei Times should play a role in promoting the Tongyong system. It is advisable to compile a Tongyong Romanization dictionary for common Chinese words and phonetic syllables in Mandarin, Hoeloe, Hakka and Aboriginal languages by your editors with manpower and financial support from the government. Romanized names of counties, cities, towns and villages in Taiwan should be included.

In addition, the Taipei Times should help the government edit important official English documents.

Charles Hong

Columbus, Ohio

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