English for Singapore

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"Majority supports adding English requirement for applicants for Singapore citizenship: poll"

Pinyin News (4/6/23)

The opposition leader of Singapore, Pritam Singh, said in late February that he supported adding an English test to the requirements for applications for citizenship or permanent residency in Singapore. A recent poll of five hundred Singapore-born citizens found strong popular support for that position.

Proportionately, most of those opposing an English-language requirement were of Chinese descent. But even among that group, supporters of the requirement outnumbered those opposed by roughly 3:1.

Next up, English for Taiwan — unless Xi Jinping does something dramatic to halt the momentum.

Additional items of interest in Pinyin News

"Large Mongolian-Korean dictionary released"

Dankook University’s Mongolian Research Institute has released what is being called the world’s largest Mongolian dictionary (actually a Mongolian–Korean dictionary), the 몽한대사전.

The two-volume work, which was more than ten years in the making, has some 85,000 headwords and more than 3,000 pages.

Chunghwa, Chunghua, Zhonghua

My previous post on postage stamps with Bopomofo (Zhuyin fuhao) mentioned Taiwan’s postal service, Chunghwa Post, which is terrifically efficient at delivering mail but which made an odd choice in romanization in its English name however many years ago . The Mandarin is Zhōnghuá Yóuzhèng in Hanyu Pinyin. But the post office spells its name


logo for Chunghwa Post Co., Ltd

Chung is clearly Wade-Giles. (It probably would be bastardized Wade-Giles; but in this case chung rather than ch’ung is correct – so, luck of the draw.) Yet hwa does not exist in Wade-Giles, which uses hua. So where is that hwa coming from? The only system that uses hwa and has been official in Taiwan is Gwoyeu Romatzyh.

The Yale system, devised by George Kennedy, also uses hwa; but despite occasional confusion by reporters and others, Taiwan has never used the Yale system. Instead, what many people mistakenly believe is Yale is instead MPS2.

Taiwan issues bopomofo postage stamps

On Monday, March 20, Taiwan’s Chunghwa Post (Zhōnghuá Yóuzhèng / 中華郵政) issued new stamps commemorating Zhuyin Fuhao (aka bopomofo, bopo mofo, or bpmf).

Selected readings


  1. J.W. Brewer said,

    April 6, 2023 @ 7:18 pm

    It seems like "Chunghwa Post" has been so named since shortly after the foundation of the ROC (on the mainland) in 1911-1912. People worried less about consistency of romanization back then. One might note that it feels, aesthetically, like a postal-map toponym romanization suitable for that era, not unlike e.g. "Hangchow" for what Wade-Giles renders as Hang-chou and hanyu pinyin renders as Hangzhou. So apparently popular a traditional romanization was Chunghwa for the toponym hanyuized as Zhonghua that even to the present day the Communist regime on the mainland still uses it to sell cigarettes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunghwa_(cigarette)

    FWIW, wikipedia also suggests the continuing existence of "Chung Hwa" brand pencils and "Chung-hwa" brand toothpaste.

  2. Pamela said,

    April 6, 2023 @ 7:51 pm

    "Hangchow" was indeed post office spelling, which also used "hwa" for "hua" (e.g. Tihwa for Urumqi). but only if they felt like it.

  3. AntC said,

    April 7, 2023 @ 3:35 pm

    an odd choice in romanization in its English name

    It's quite perplexing wandering around older parts of cities in Taiwan: you can find different romanizations at opposite ends of the street, or on modern tourist signs vs battered street names. Feng Chia Night Market/Fengjia Road in Taichung, for example.

    Next up, English for Taiwan …

    Taiwan is trying to boost its support for non-Mandarin topolects, as well as for indigenous languages. There's plenty of migrant workers speaking other languages — such as Vietnamese or Thai. So much language exuberance for Xi Jinping to be unhappy about.

  4. Mark S. said,

    April 8, 2023 @ 8:29 am

    I think some of the steam has gone out of the government's effort to make English an official language here in Taiwan. But there's still very much a push to have some primary and secondary classes taught in English.

    As for whether Taiwan has language exam as part of its citizenship requirement, yes, it does, though it takes the form of a civic knowledge exam. But, to Taiwan's credit, the exam — oral or written, your choice — can be taken in not just Mandarin but also in Taiwanese, Hakka, or even a language of Taiwan's Indigenous Peoples. And maybe even English one of these years.

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