The government plans to make Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) the standard system of Romanization nationwide starting on Jan. 1, an official with the Ministry of Education said yesterday.
Government agencies will be compelled to adopt Hanyu Pinyin, a Chinese Romanization system developed by the People’s Republic of China, Chen Hsuch-yu (陳雪玉), executive-secretary and senior inspector of the ministry’s National Languages Committee (NLC), said in a telephone interview.
While the public will be widely encouraged to use the system, individual preferences on which Romanization system to use will be respected when it comes to personal matters such as the spelling of their surnames, Chen said.
To facilitate the change, “we will refer the Guidelines of Using Chinese Phonetic Spelling (中文譯音使用原則) to the Executive Yuan for review within a month,” Chen said.
The guidelines, enacted by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government in 2002, stipulate that the official Romanization system for Chinese in the country is Tongyong Pinyin (通用拼音), but its use is not mandatory.
Chen said the ministry would soon convene a meeting of local governments and central government agencies to sort out rules and regulations that would need to be revised to conform to the change. These include rules on naming roads and passport regulations, among others.
The move came after a proposal that Hanyu Pinyin be adopted was approved at a Cabinet meeting convened by Minister Without Portfolio Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗) on Tuesday.
Tzeng said the ministry made the proposal in line with the government’s aim to enhance the country’s international competitiveness.
An official with the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission quoted Tzeng as saying at the meeting that the change should not be a problem and has the support of Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), who is expected to ratify the proposal after the intergovernmental meeting.
The NLC said it would provide a Hanyu Pinyin guide on its Web site to show the equivalent pronunciation in the traditional phonetic system.
“The guide can help the public and civil servants learn how to use Hanyu Pinyin at a glance,” Chen said.
So far, Taipei City, Hsinchu City and Kinmen County are the only three municipalities that use Hanyu Pinyin.
“We know there might be objection to using the Hanyu Pinyin system,” Chen said, “but we ask the protesters to realize that this would enable Taiwan to become better connected with the rest of the world.
“It would also help foreigners in Taiwan, who would only need to learn one transliteration system,” she said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU