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May 30, 2007

S. Min script press conference today

After I made my blog post yesterday about the first 300 suggested standard Taiwanese characters, I told Liberty Times about it. They called the Ministry of Education at about 6:00pm or so for more information. About an hour later, the Min. announced they'd hold a press conference today on this topic. I take it they had been trying to keep it low key but decided that as long as the media was noticing, they'd best host a press conference on it.

So expect to see all the talking heads ranting about a few characters that you won't understand the first instant you see them. (Christ, what do people expect really? Nobody could read Japanese, English or Mandarin without being taught the system involved -- why do Taiwanese seem to expect that any good romanization or character standard would be instantly grasped in full by any S. Min speaker?)

Update: At the press conference, (2), (3), the Ministry said they also would be happy to cooperate with Karaoke and KTV companies to make sure the new "standard" characters get used on Taiwanese language subtitles.

I think its great the Ministry realizes that to make this stuff work, they need more than just the textbooks and romanization. Those two things are the foundation. Then they need teachers to understand them so they can teach them to the kids; and the parents need a website they can go to to easily learn the characters themselves. And you also need dictionaries.

But most of all, they'll need general cultural support on this -- when papers print Taiwanese in the future, or ads use Taiwanese characters, they should use these; the government should consider helping cartoons or other programming in Taiwanese have a S. Min characters subtitle option; and they need the Karaoke. If it can become popular and understood enough among every day people, it might not take a whole generation to create Southern Min literacy.

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