Sat, Mar 10, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Bopomofo will not be easy to scrap

By Hugo Tseng 曾泰元

However, Mandarin phonetic symbols have been a foundation of education in Taiwan for decades. Abolishing them would be an enormous challenge and any attempt to do so would no doubt provoke a powerful backlash from many quarters.

The upside is that Yeh is a well-known DPP politician, so she need not worry about the pan-green camp painting her as pro-Chinese for wanting to use Hanyu pinyin. At the same time, by calling for Mandarin phonetic symbols to be abandoned, she can “de-blue” the idea by drawing a line between her proposal and the KMT, and standing on her own authority.

When Premier William Lai (賴清德) was mayor of Tainan, he called for English to become Taiwan’s second official language. Now Yeh, although she failed in her bid for Tainan mayoral candidacy, has been calling for Mandarin phonetic symbols to be abolished in favor of romanized spelling. Tainan deserves a round of applause for its courage and determination.

Hugo Tseng is an associate professor and former chair of Soochow University’s Department of English Language and Literature.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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