Chinese characters to be phased out in China
By Wen Gaige
Thursday, 1st April 2004
The Chinese government announced today that it plans to phase out
Chinese characters and replace them with Hànyŭ Pīnyīn,
a system for writing Chinese with the Latin alphabet. This change
will be incorporated into the five year plan commencing in January
2005 and should be completed by the end of 2010.
A spokeswoman for the Latinisation Committee (Lādīnghuà
Wĕiyuànhuì), which has been set up to oversee
the change, told our reporter that Hànyŭ Pīnyīn will be introduced
first in schools, then in official publications, and then in all other
printed materials. She went on to say that the switch to the Latin alphabet
will dramatically reduce the amount of time children need to spend learning
to read and write Chinese, and will help to increase literacy among adults.
The form of language used will be based on the Mandarin
spoken by educated people in northern China. Written standards will also be
established for other major varieties of Chinese, such as Cantonese,
Min, Wu and Hakka.
A spokesman for the Chinese Character Preservation Society (Zìbăohuì)
claimed that abolishing the characters would cut the people off from
over 3,000 years of literary heritage, and that the large number of homophones
in Chinese make any system based on the Latin alphabet difficult to read.
The Latinisation Committee responded to these points by stating that
Hànyŭ Pīnyīn versions of the major literary classics
will be produced, and that grouping syllables into words will help to
reduce the ambiguity of homophones.
The progress of these changes will be observed with interest by the
people of Taiwan and Singapore, though they are not planning to abandon
Chinese characters just yet.
Note: This article is a spoof intended for your
amusement. The organisations and individuals mentioned are figments of
the author's imagination. Various proposals have been made to replace
Chinese characters with the Latin alphabet, though none have met with
widespread support yet.