Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Education minister weighs in on issue of which system of romanization to use

COMPETING SYSTEMS While Minister Huang Jong-tsun did state a preference for the Tongyong system, he left the door open to changing his mind


Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) yesterday stated his view on the contentious Mandarin-romanization issue for the first time. In general, he said, he favored the opinion of proponents of the Tongyong (通用拼音) system.

Huang said that the technical aspects of the decision would be easy, since 85 percent of the Tongyong and Hanyu (漢語拼音) romanization systems are the same and since computer-conversion techniques are well developed.

Leaving the door open to reversing himself, however, he said that if the public did not agree with the future decisions of the Ministry of Education, then the ministry wouldn't want to "play any more."

He said that it is unfair that the decision is the education ministry's alone, given that the opinions on this issue still differ greatly between various groups in society, and that the issue would have to be discussed one more time.

During interpellation in the legislature, lawmakers Diane Lee (李慶安) and Lee Ming-hsien (李明憲) pointed out that the issue has dragged on for a very long time without a decision. They also said that it had gone so far that the previous minister of education, Ovid Tzeng (曾製朗), had been forced to leave his position due to his support for the Hanyu system.

They went on to say that with compulsory native language education about to be implemented in the school system, the government should not delay a final decision further.

To this, Huang replied that the original issue had become blurred due to the huge number of memoranda being sent back and forth between the ministry and the Cabinet. He said he would therefore settle the issue by setting internationalization, language expertise and ethnic-suitability standards, according to which an evaluation of the issue would be carried out.

He also said that he wanted an expert language section of the National Science Council to handle the evaluation, which he said would take two months. Once completed, he said the results would be made public "in the blink of an eye."

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