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Aug 14, 2012

Ma's really into this dictionary

When I saw this recent article about Ma praising the publication of the new Cross Strait Dictionary of Common Phrases 《兩岸常用詞典》, I was initially just amused that it's not one publication at all -- the mainland published a dictionary arranged by pinyin in horizontal layout, while the Taiwan version is indexed by radical and uses vertical layout.  They're not even being published at the same time. Guess the Chinese censors want more time. Way to go, guys.

Then it struck me that Ma has displayed an unusual interest in this publication. Far more than Chen Shui-bian ever paid in public to the Hakka and Holo Taiwanese dictionaries his government mostly produced (《臺灣客家語常用詞辭典》以及《臺灣閩南語常用詞辭典》). And then I came to think that Chinese government leaders certainly haven't been paying much attention to this.

So I decided to try to substantiate all three observations born of vague memories of past articles. First, I went about digging up articles where Ma talkes about this dictionary. I didn't have to go very far to indicate my memory wasn't fooling me: the first article linked above mentions that "Jointly publishing a dictionary of common phrases was raised by Ma Ying-jiu in the 2008 campaign [for president]."

Next, nearly all news articles within the .cn domain only mention the dictionary's publication in Taiwan and Ma's participation without adding any comments from the Chinese side. They're merely retellings of the Taiwan wire stories.

Finally, on the day the Ministry of Education put the Holo Taiwanese dictionary online, the MOE took charge of the related press conferences and speeches, and President Chen didn't have a thing to say.

This project must be a personal interest of Ma's, maybe a nerdy fantasy he has fostered for years or decades. Certainly nobody else has noticed political advantages in promoting these publications. 


Tommy said...

You may be interested in this article that appeared in the Straits Times yesterday. The piece is kind of silly. It's not like anyone really cares about the differences in the examples that the article cites, and the examples in question hardly cause problems for society in either country.

My apologies for the long link. I was unable to find the Straits Times version, so this one comes from a LexisNexis search.

阿牛 said...

It's such a nakedly political, symbolic and worthless effort.