Friday, March 11, 2011

Hanyu pinyin criticism by Josh

3/11/2011 Taiwan Explorer
Because I want my blog to be the platform for hanyu pinyin critics

Ever since I've written my long article about why hanyu pinyin sucks and why the Romanization in Taiwan is good (even though some fringe groups constantly claim the contrary), I started to think it would be good to give voice to those other critics, who just like me believe that Taiwan should not adapt hanyu pinyin as a national Romanization system. I have very well explained, that it's possible to have a Romanization, that is more suitable to Taiwan's unique situation and is at the same time reader and foreign visitor friendly. I'm very happy to see that there are other people out there, who share similar views. I hope that my blog will become the voice for the anti-hanyu pinyin movement or the platform to voice discontent with this heavily flawed and politically charged Romanization system.

I have found Josh's comment on a hanyu pinyin propaganda website and because I don't want to be associated with that group, I won't link to their website. Josh, if you come across this post, you can comment and tell me, if you want me to link to a website of yours. Your further comments are also appreciated. This is what Josh said about standard Romanization in Taiwan:

Josh said,
February 13, 2011 @ 10:41 am

"Honestly, I think the emphasis on a standard romanization for maps is pretty silly. ESPECIALLY if you insist on using Hanyu or Tongyong Pinyin, both of which are pretty messed up if you’re expecting a foreign tourist who doesn’t know Chinese to pronounce it.

I live in Beijing, and when I have friends that come and try to find places, they’re baffled – the subway stops are all one word and the Q’s, X’s and C’s are a complete mystery to them – HUIXINXIJIENANKOU??? Let’s be honest now….中正 is much easier as Chung Cheng or even Jhung Jheng rather than Zhong Zheng. And as for the Q in both Hanyu and Tongyong, why not just say CH? Ban Chiao for 板桥? For that matter, why not TS for C? It makes more sense.

The question her is what is our goal? The people that are using Google maps, in my opinion, should NOT have to struggle through convoluted (while standard) romanization systems like Hanyu or Tongyong Pinyin. They should be given a romanized version that is easiest to approximate the sound of the location of where they want to go.

This is what was great about Wade-Giles – it was based on English pronunciation to a large extent and people (non academics) identified with it, even (and especially) the ‘bastardized’ versions. If a map is in English, it should be in ENGLISH, not a phonetic version of another language – don’t see Google starting to use PAREE or ROMA any time soon, so why BANQIAO or BANCIAO when Ban Chiao or Pan Chiao will do?"


My reply to Josh: I totally agree that hanyu pinyin makes it very hard to the average reader, who has not extensively studied all the complicated and contradictory rules, not only to read a longer text, but also to remember. I also think why should Romanization be so anti English. If you visit Taiwan, all the signage is always in English, from the airport, to the subway to the regular train. But not only signage, also the audio messages on the subway trains are in English. Yet, some people want to forcefully pinyinize Taiwan so that they can sleep at night. Silly. Who in his right mind cares, if the Romanization of "Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall" roots in Cantonese and English? Do we really want to read this crap: Guólì Zhōngzhèng Jìniàntáng? I'm sure that would confuse foreign tourists, not the situation now, where we have several Romanization systems side by side. Seriously, who cares? Oh, they care.

And that's why I feel the urge to counter them. I will surely publish more comments like this one from Josh. Until next time. I'll be back!