Several people have pointed me towards this piece, which is directed at Mark S. of Pinyin.info, and other Taiwan bloggers, including myself. In it, Tonyong Pinyin supporter, Mark Caltonhill (why oh why does he have to be named Mark, too?), tells foreign bloggers to “shut up and fit in”.
Later, our increasingly hypothetical tourist might be reading an introduction to Taiwan’s history with names spelt according to the Yale Romanization, popular among American academics until quite recently, and he is likely to be taken to his destination by a driver called Chang or Lin who may spell her name according to any idiosyncratic preference, most commonly based on the older Wade-Giles system.
Perhaps surprisingly, many foreigners who settle in Taiwan or stay for longer periods, rather than becoming acclimatized to this situation, often become increasingly irate. “Taiwan’s approach to this has been far more than ridiculous; it is patronizing of and offensive to foreigners,” said the Taiwan-based American creator of a Web site solely dedicated to the promotion of his favored form of romanization, hanyu pinyin.
His attitude is fairly typical of those expressed on the many foreigner-run forums and blogs in Taiwan, which have almost-unanimously adopted HP as their standard. The system was developed in Russia for that country’s far-eastern Chinese-speaking minority before being adopted by the People’s Republic of China and, more recently, by the United Nations. Nevertheless, just as the PRC has not ruled Taiwan for as much as a single day, similarly, neither has its HP ever been the official romanization system on the island.
source: When in Rome, shut up and fit in, Taiwan Journal, Vol. XXIII No. 38, September 29, 2006
I would suggest that the writer take a closer look at the problem.
Taiwanese people don’t need romanized street names. They can read characters. It’s their foreign spouses, short term foreign workers, foreign immigrants, foreign business people, and foreign students of Chinese that need to look at romanized names. Maybe the reason long term residents tend to want standard pinyin, and Hanyu Pinyin is an ISO standard as well being the UN and the world-wide standard, is because we’ve suffered through the experience of not being able to read the haphazard romanization on the signs here.
I’ve met quite a few people from each group who have a preference for using standard pinyin, and I haven’t met any who prefer Tongyong Pinyin. That isn’t surprising considering that it’s been revised multiple times, it takes more letters to spell out words than standard pinyin does, and it needlessly breaks compatibility with the system all the rest of the world uses.
Instead of assuming that we are saying we know what’s best for the Taiwanese, maybe Mr. Caltonhill should at least consider the possibility that we’re just trying to make life a bit easier for the next wave of foreigners who come here. That can’t be a bad thing for Taiwan. Not that I can see, at any rate.