Sun, Feb 22, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[LETTER ]

The fortitude of the Taiwanese in fighting tyranny and oppression while striving for hope and democracy is to be admired and emulated.

Could it be that when the US government acknowledges Taiwan, it must confront its own Janus-faced reflection? The US, which prides itself on supporting democracies like Taiwan, must recognize its willful business relations with communist countries like China.

And what of China, a country that has given us SARS, tainted food products and toxic children’s toys, oppresses civil and political rights and restricts freedom of the press?

The US has been straddling the Taiwan Strait for decades and the longer she tries balancing herself with one foot on China and one foot on Taiwan, the more likely she will end up all wet.

NORMA CHRISTIANSEN

Taichung

Nice to be different

Steve Painter (Letters, Feb. 19, page 8) criticized the Tongyong Pinyin system as “a laughably poor attempt to create something ‘different’ from the one used in mainland China and to politicize the teaching of the Chinese language to foreigners.” “Street signs are an international laughing-stock,” he said.

Painter painted Tongyong wrong. Tongyong (literally “common use”) is a masterpiece created by a panel of linguists specializing in English, Mandarin, Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages. It can be applied to all languages used in Taiwan. In contrast, Hanyu (literally “Han language”) can be applied to Mandarin only. For example, Hoklo has certain sounds which cannot be transliterated with Hanyu Pinyin.

Tongyong was created to facilitate teaching children to speak Taiwan’s languages so that these languages will not die out.

For example, many Hakka children do not know how to speak Hakka. It has nothing to do with politics. On the contrary, promoting Hanyu Pinyin has a hidden political objective of teaching Mandarin only. The drastic budget cut for teaching Hoklo is a clue and, in the midst of a recession, millions of dollars will be spent to convert Tongyong to Hanyu Pinyin. By insisting on the latter, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is the one causing a laughable situation.

CHARLES HONG

Columbus, Ohio

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