The only remaining controversy in Taiwan’s efforts to standardize its pinyin system for Chinese is whether to adopt Tongyong or Hanyu; while the former has an intense symbolic value of indigenization, the latter enjoys a substantial globalized distribution. This paper first makes clear the nature of ‘interface’ of any pinyin system and examines this seemingly domestic issue from the perspectives of the New Economy in the global Information Age. Given the characteristics of ‘increasing returns’ and ‘path-dependence’, Hanyu Pinyin, with its universal standardization and dominant global market share, is the obvious choice. Taiwan’s implementation of Tongyong Pinyin must necessarily incur the cost of dual interfaces. Given the 85% overlap between the two systems, Tongyong, as a politically meaningful symbol, ironically, also creates a division among Taiwan’s population. The unfortunate politicization of the pinyin issue has cornered the nation into a dilemma: Tongyong costs economically, Hanyu costs politically. The ultimate reconciliation thus hinges upon the implementation of a system that optimizes Tongyong’s indigenized symbolic value and Hanyu’s globalized substance, to the furthest extent possible.
Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1), 1-22.
This is a translated version of a paper written in Chinese published in Journal of Social Sciences and Philosophy (人文及社會科學集刊) 17.4, 785-822.