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Sep 15, 2009

HS! Standardizing Hakka characters

The big upcoming news for me is the impending release of the final set of standardized characters for written Holo Taiwanese. But today when checking up, I found some equally exciting news -- the first set of standardized Hakka characters for written Hakka!


The 305 characters listed include pronunciations in all major Taiwanese Hakka dialects. If you are interested in the romanization system chosen for Hakka, see this link: 臺灣客家語拼音方案.

One thing I notice right away is that for certain characters (毋, 啉) we see continuity between the choices for Hakka and Holo. I find that encouraging in that there was some systematic thought involved.

P.S. Calling to get some more info, but Hakka group is having their meeting. They'll call me back later. Mainly, I want to ask what percentage of total characters that will be standardized these 305 represent; what the time line is for further standardization; whether it will affect textbooks on a mandatory basis; whether they'll push music companies to publish Karaoke lyrics in the new characters; etc.

I've also alerted Liberty Times and Apple Daily to the news.


Richard said...

Do you have more information on the upcoming release of the Hoklo characters?

阿牛 said...

Only that it will be out within a few days, numbers 300 characters, and will complete the standardization process for now. The online Holo dictionary linked at the website incorporates all 700 newly standardized characters into its database. It's a phrase dictionary. Print version to be published in Oct.

Carlos said...

For those of you in the know, when was the debate between characters and romanization decided?

阿牛 said...

A full fledged debate never got off ground, even when romanization advocates were heading the National Languages Committee; the public is relatively emotionally attached to characters and uses them for the most part now, and it never made sense to abandon them.

Anonymous said...

Is there really a need for this? I can imagine that it might be helpful for KTV subtitles... on the other hand I don't see any need to write in Taiwanese as much as writing in Texan, Scottish, Irish, etc. dialect.

阿牛 said...

Yes, there's a strong need for standardizing the Hakka langauge's writing, especially for the recording and preservation of Hakka cultural heritage and for facilitating education in Hakka.

There is no "need" to write in any language, but we know that languages without writing systems in active use lose ground quickly over time to those with writing. If we want to preserve people's fluency, it will do much good to teach people to write in that language as well.