"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ralph Jennings lies about Taiwan

Calling Ralph what he is

This Reuters piece by Ralph Jennings made me nauseous:
Taiwan to axe "China" from name of Mandarin Chinese
Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:26pm GMT

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan plans to change the name of its official Mandarin Chinese language in public schools to a term that avoids referring to China, a curriculum planner said on Thursday, another move to distance the self-ruled island from Beijing.


The island now plans to do away with "zhong-wen", the name of the official language, because of its reference to "China", said Chen Wan-yi, a curriculum architect with the Ministry of Education.

Mandarin Chinese's new name would be "hua-yu," which does not pinpoint a country. The change could come into force in schools by 2010 once the proposal is approved, he said.

Most people in Taiwan speak Mandarin, which originated in China and is all but universally spoken there.
So many lies, so little time
First of all, the textbooks I see my students carrying to class say "國語" (guoyu, or "national language") on the cover -- not "zhong-wen" (中文, or "Chinese"), so Ralph is lying to you, as even the pro-unification (duh, look at the name) United Daily News (聯合報) will reveal. [See "* CLARIFICATION," below.]

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The cover of the textbook says "Guoyu" (國語) or "National Language."

Next, "hua-yu" (華語) is not a "new name" for Mandarin. Even if he means that it's new to Taiwan's schools, Ralph is not telling the whole truth about "pinpoint[ing] a country." If you click the link, you will see that it means "Chinese language" which should immediately bring "China" to most people's minds.

Furthermore, Mandarin is not "all but universally spoken" in China. Even China's own media admits that "only 53 percent of people in China can communicate in Putonghua, or Mandarin."

Is Ralph a pathological liar or a professional one?

* CLARIFICATION: After reading a post on Arbiter of Waste, I realized that my explanation may be lacking a key piece of the puzzle which would help those unfamiliar with the context to put it all together. That would be that the term "國語" (guoyu, or "national language") is not explicit in naming "Chinese" as the language being taught/learned. Changing the name of the curriculum to "華語" (Huayu) does indeed make the "China" part explicit. See also this other instance of the definition of "華" (Hua) linked in a related post by A-gu (阿牛). [/clarification]

Truths and consequences: , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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