Thu, Jul 11, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Tongyong Pinyin the new system for romanization

STAFF WRITER

The protracted controversy over the country's official Mandarin romanization system was ended yesterday when the Ministry of Education announced that it opted for the Tongyong Pinyin System (通用拼音).

The system -- which is 85 percent similar to the Hanyu Pinyin system -- was created by a group of "pro-Taiwan" linguists who say their new system is more suitable for teaching native languages to the children of Taiwan.

The decision was made at a meeting held by the Mandarin Promotion Council (MPC, 國語推行委員) -- a task force of the education ministry -- and will be presented to the Executive Yuan by the end of this month.

The issue has been pending for years and is seen as a highly political matter.

Former education minister Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗) was reportedly replaced during the Cabinet shake-up in February due to his pro-China political ideology and his preference for the Hanyu Pinyin system -- a system prevalent in China and most Mandarin-speaking countries.

His removal is considered to be one of the most obvious examples of the issue's political significance.

It is widely believed that Education Minister Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) was picked to replace Tzeng because of his pro-Taiwan stance. Huang has dealt cautiously with the romanization issue since he took office. His decision to choose the Tongyong system came as no surprise.

The 27-member MPC task force is still working on ways in which to standardize the English spelling of the street signs. The task force is also looking at how to use the system for the teaching of native languages -- including Hokkien, Hakka and Aboriginal languages.

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