From: Arne Götje (高盛華) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jan 25 2007 - 19:51:30 CST
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John H. Jenkins wrote:
>> Naturally there are political aspects to all of this. On the
>> mainland, as you say, the push is toward Mandarin. In Taiwan there
>> has recently been something of a revival of Taiwanese, but my
>> impression is that this is primarily as a spoken language, and that
>> when it is written, one of the romanizations is often used rather than
>> characters; however, this is not first-hand information, and I would
>> welcome correction on this.
> There are, I understand efforts, to write Taiwanese with ideographs, but
> I don't know much about them and would welcome pointers to additional
"Taiwanese" or better "Taiwan style Minnan" can be written with both
Latin and Han script. The Latin script uses diacritics and was
introduced by some Christian missionaries in order to better communicate
with the locals.
Using Han characters, there are a few conflicts between different
dictionary authors. Using Han for Minnan dates back several centuries (I
don't have exact figures). Traditional Minnan can be fully written with
Han characters, most of them are the same like used in Mandarin, but
sometimes have a different meaning. In other cases other Han characters
than in Mandarin are used for the same meaning. For example: "to eat a
meal" in Mandarin: 吃飯 (chi1 fan4), in Minnan: 食飯 (jia3 bng1). Other
Chinese languages (for example Hakka) use the same characters like
Minnan in this case.
Taiwan style Minnan has developed seperate from the Mainland since the
Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945). This has led to the situation
that some new words got imported from Japanese. For those, Japanese
Kanji are used.
For some characters it is difficult to find historical references, or
the words have been invented during time, but noone bothered to write
them down, so there are no standard characters to write them. In those
cases dictionary authors tend to "invent" new characters for them. For
example, one of the famous dictionaries in Taiwan, 台華雙語辭典 by Mr.
Yang Qing-Chu (楊青矗), lists 152 "invented" characters, most of them
are not encoded in Unicode. Regarding all characters in that dictionary,
many of them are in Extension A and B. But as I said, about the
"invented" characters, there is some controversy. Some scholars claim,
there should be correct characters available, the dictionary authors
just didn't research enough... but they have yet to prove these claims.
BTW: there is no national standard for any of the local languages in Taiwan.
> As you say, there are political aspects. Cantonese is in an unusually
> good position because of the semi-independence of Hong Kong and Macao.
> There has bee a notable upsurge in the interest in written Cantonese and
> Cantonese linguistics in Hong Kong in the last ten years.
There do exist cantonese input methods already (at least in the Open
Source world). And those AFAIR use sometimes different characters than
Further more I'd like to notice, that Hong Kong has released the HKSCS
standard, which contains more than 4000 additional characters compared
to Big5. Some of these characters are in Extension A and B of Unicode.
The HKSCS standard contains characters for Cantonese as used in Hong
Kong and additional characters used by the government.
Both, Hong Kong and Macao have members in the IRG, who contribute
locally used characters.
Arne Götje (高盛華) <email@example.com>
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