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Guardian Interview with "The Father of Pinyin"

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It's always a cultural issue. There is forced competition in schools in China that cause people to have to work extraordinarily hard to get a good job so those that do do and those that don't don't eat. I'm not a linguist and I don't know much about the other styles but I do know that I myself don't care much about learning the pinyin too much but just try and remember the way a character sounds after looking at it. Of course I can usually write correct pinyin down as well but ...

As for the father of pinyin it was really pointless to overlay subtitles because his english is crystal clear for a 102 yr old guy. He speaks old but intelligible.

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I really think several of these Chinese transliteration systems (including Bopomofo 注音符號 and Hanyu Pinyin 漢語拼音字母) are pretty much equivalent for representing Putonghua/Mandarin, although the older Wade-Giles dictionaries may have had some pronunciation mistakes. Pinyin is certainly the most official and prevalent in use these days, although I think there are some difficulties in its contractions (making them harder to read and get used to) and some context-sensitive vowel representations. The newer Chinese zidian and cidian as well as bilingual dictionaries have come a long way.

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What with the upcoming 60th anniversary of the PRC, the New York Times is running an interview with Zhou Youguang, who's now 103. It focuses somewhat on his work with Hanyu Pinyin, but more on his historical associations:

Deng “reformed the economy but didn’t reform politics,” Mr. Zhou said. “In the political scene, there was absolutely no change — it was an autocracy.”

That wasn’t the outcome Zhou Enlai promised Mr. Zhou in the late 1930s. The two, who were not related, met in Chongqing when the Yangtze River city became the wartime capital after Japan’s occupation of Nanjing in 1937.

Zhou Enlai — who would become China’s premier in 1949 — held monthly get-togethers with intellectuals, including Mr. Zhou, who worked for Sin Hua Trust & Savings Bank, which was founded in 1914 and became part of the Bank of China in 2001.

“Zhou Enlai told me at those meetings that the Communist Party was a democratic party,” Mr. Zhou said.

The article's entitled, "A Spirit of Enduring Optimism."


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