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

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Lunar New Year in Taiwan: 2011

In Taiwan, you can even call it "Taiwanese New Year"!
I'm back from a long break in blogging with a slight variation of the "traditional" New Year post. To kick things off this time around, here's a musical video wishing you a Happy Taiwanese New Year (brought to my attention on Twitter by cyrixhero):

3:58 YouTube video: "快樂台灣年 Happy Taiwanese new year "

Thursday, February 3, 2011 (That's tomorrow!) is New Year's Day as celebrated by the citizens of several Asian countries as well as by many other people around the world. Too many English-speaking people use the term "Chinese New Year" to describe the holiday, despite the fact that the direct back-translation "中國新年" is rarely used by Mandarin speakers. Chinese people usually call the holiday "Lunar New Year" (農曆新年) or "Spring Festival" (春節).

Furthermore, the holiday doesn't belong solely to the Chinese.

Start with the person in the mirror
Why should you change the way you speak? Here's an example for your consideration.

Have you ever heard of the 228 Massacre? Like many others, I used to refer to it as the "228 Incident," but when someone reminded me about how that diminishes the fact that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) killed countless Taiwanese in that "incident," I immediately made the change in my speech and writing. What I don't get is how some people who I am certain are pro-Taiwan somehow cling to the phrase "Chinese New Year."

Are you that kind of person? If so, I hope you can ask yourself why you do that and if you can change.

Here's a clear and simple list of reasons to help you decide to make that change:
1. Lunar New Year is not exclusively Chinese.

2. Even Chinese people call the holiday "Lunar New Year," so you won't be hurting the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese by using that name.

3. Since you're reading this blog, there's a good chance that you are in Taiwan or that you are Taiwanese. (Maybe neither of those things applies to you -- you might just be interested in doing something to help Taiwan.)

4. Way too many people already do things which confuse others into believing that Taiwan's culture is a subset of China's.

5. You don't have to do things just because others do them or because they're habits.
Language is a virus (from outer space)
For some more background (you'll have to follow the links and do some more reading), here's a recap (with some spelling changes) of a couple of my earlier posts related to why many people prefer to call this holiday "Lunar New Year" (Taiwanese: Lông-li̍k sin-nî; Hanzi: 農曆新年; Hanyu pinyin: Nónglì xīnnián):
It doesn't just belong to the Chinese

Nor is it just "politically correct." Read about it in English and/or Chinese.

Happy Lunar New Year! 萬事如意! [bān-sū jû-ì! / wànshì rúyì!]

Being in a bit of a rush to begin my vacation, I missed these links (all are presented in both English and Mandarin):* How the people of Vietnam celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of South Korea celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Singapore celebrate Lunar New Year* How the people of Malaysia celebrate Lunar New Year
And here's an update on the Taiwanese Romanization which I derived by using a dictionary on the web site of Taiwan's Ministry of Education (MOE):
Lông-li̍k sin-nî khuài-lo̍k! (農曆新年快樂!) Bān-sū jû-ì! (萬事如意!)
If you're Taiwanese, stop inadvertently diluting your own culture. Remember (Ē -kì-tit/Ōe-kì-tit [要記得]): Every time you say "Lunar New Year," you're saying "No!" to those who want to promote China while diminishing Taiwan.

Related reading:
* Check out the Twitter search results for "Lunar New Year." I'm seeing Tweets there by people from Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and other countries around the globe!

* See what Taiwan's Government Information Office (GIO) says about Lunar New Year.

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Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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