字 != Word

There are a few strange views regarding a number of linguistic matters in Taiwan. Even stranger in my opinion is that nobody seems to question them, not even in the academic world, even though there are contradictions every three steps. One of those strange views is to equal the Chinese 字 to the English word. This myth is easily debunked.








我 想我應該沒有機會遇到這種情況…… 所以,如果我們講話用到數字,我們平常不會隨便做。所以,口譯也必須把那些數字傳到目標語言。數字不一定很好記,所以我平常會建議我的學生把它們記錄一 下。為了這種筆記,口譯最好要在身上帶小筆記本。比較強的人還會有另外的方法:他們平常不需要做筆記,所以真需要的時候(電話號碼或其它數字)直接寫在手 上。

有時候有人問口譯跟筆譯除了一個講話一個寫字之外還會有什麼區別。這裡有一個:口譯平常(請注意這個“平常“)不需要換算。意思是, 如果源語言跟目標語言用的單位不同,口譯平常不需要把數值換算到其它單位。如果美國人說"With a full tank, this car can run 220 miles",口譯可以翻“加滿油,這台車可以跑220英里“,但是筆譯可能要寫"加滿油,這台車可以跑354公里"。

Where do I live?

You may not believe this mess if you do not live in Taiwan.

Thank you for your concern, but I usually find my way home. And if I should indeed lack some orientation, I can ask my Tomtom One. The problem is actually more how to tell you where I live – at least, if you do not understand hanzi, the Chinese characters.

Language-related Myths: We are Taiwaner, not Taiwanese!

No, you are lacking a wider horizon.

Every once in a while there is a small wave of media reports and e-mails explaining that the people of Taiwan should call themselves “Taiwaner” in English instead of “Taiwanese” because (Sit down, fasten your seat belt and take a Valium.) “the British used the ‘-ese’ suffix only on nations they look down upon, and we don’t want other people to look down on us”.

Language-related Myts: I am a Jelly Doughnut

Kennedy said nothing wrong.

In 1963 John F. Kennedy gave a speech in front of the Schoeneberg city hall in Berlin. The speech was supposed to be motivating, because about two years earlier the Berlin wall had been erected. Kennedy gave this speech in English, with an interpreter delivering a German translation. There was however one sentence that was in German: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” And believe it or not, even in 2010 there are English-speaking fellows claiming that this would have meant “I am a jelly doughnut.”

Short version: Wrong. Kennedy was absolutely correct.

Zhuyin or Hanyu Pinyin IME?

Zhuyin may not always be the best choice.

"This is Taiwan, we use Zhuyin  input. So you should learn it too." This is something I have heard numerous times, but so far it was not very convincing. Why?

Well, first of all, the "we use Zhuyin" part is not quite correct. In the years I had been doing administrative work at a university's computer centre I saw plenty of requests to get this or that IME installed, because "I can only use this one." If Taiwanese may be "picky", why not me?

Hedgewars in Chinese

Hedgewars uses the same font as SMC, so the same procedure to properly display Chinese applies.

It seems that Hedgewars  has incorporated a translation made by students in one of my courses - which I only found out through checking SVN, since there was no feedback. Anyway, part of the text will display right away, but only part. You will still need to replace the embedded font file the same way as I described for Secret Maryo.

I installed Hedgewars from SVN here on Linux, so my path here is

Secret Maryo Chronicles in Chinese

To get Secret Maryo Chronicles to display Chinese in Hanzi, you need to replace font files. Here is how.

Secret Maryo Chronicles  (short "SMC") is an Open Source Super Mario clone. Starting with version 1.6 it supports multiple languages, though as of December 2008 not always without problems. We translated this game in an l10n course I am giving into Chinese, and here is a small walkthrough on how to get an existing installation of SMC, that has not yet included Chinese, running in that language.

CSS for the language crowd: simple language switching

Did you know you could create a bilingual static site that only shows one language at a time and switches on flyover, and all that with just HTML and CSS?

CSS is nice, no doubt. Most people think however it is only useful for web designers and graphics people. I like CSS (even though I'm not very familiar with it), and I consider myself neither web designer nor a graphics expert. I am interested in languages, so when I encounter some technology or gadget, I will also check if this can be useful in connection with languages. CSS can.

Sorry, I don't have an English name

Really. I am German, why would I want an English name? And this is just the start...

If you are not living in Taiwan, you may not understand why a German would need to emphasize this. The problem is that there is something rotten in the system they call education in Taiwan. Not just something, quite a few things, actually, but this is something affecting my work.

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