Taiwan to adopt China's phonetic spelling system
Sep 17, 2008, 13:59 GMT
Taipei - Taiwan, putting aside long-standing political considerations, said Wednesday that it is adopting China's phonetic spelling system to prevent confusion in communications with foreigners.
The cabinet said Taiwan's local and county governments must use China's Hanyu Pinyin when translating place names and road names from Chinese into Roman alphabets.
Those who refuse to follow the order would not receive subsidies for transliterating place names from the central government.
'Hanyu Pinyin is being used by the United Nations and world libraries,' Education Ministry official Chen Hsueh-yu said. 'Adopting it can make it easier for foreigners to do business or travel in Taiwan.'
The Education Ministry is to revise guidelines on transliterating Chinese so people will know how to correctly translate place and road names, she said.
When teachers teach Chinese in foreign schools, they would also use Hanyu Pinyin, she added.
Taiwan has been split from China since 1949 when the Chinese Nationalists lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan to set up their government-in-exile.
To assert its legitimacy over all of China, the Taiwan government preserved the old Chinese characters and phonetic symbols, which are complicated and difficult to learn.
China, for the sake of wiping out illiteracy, simplified Chinese characters and phonetic symbols. Taiwan had refused to follow suit because of political reasons.
Taiwan's adherence to the old Chinese characters and phonetic symbols has caused many foreign students wanting to learn Chinese to avoid Taiwan and created obstacles in contacts with foreigners.
Taiwan not only uses the old Wade-Giles spelling system but also in 1958 launched another spelling system, and Taiwan's people can romanize Chinese any way they like.
For example, a busy avenue in Taipei can be spelled as Chunghsiao East Road, Chonghsiao East Road and Jhongsiao East Road. Under China's Hanyu Pinyin system, there is only one way to spell it - Zhongxiao East Road.
So far, Taiwan has not indicated it might adopt China's simplified Chinese characters. Most people in Taiwan regard them as too simple and ugly.