Taiwan's president praises Jay Chou for promoting traditional Chinese characters

Despite the fact that Chinese Mandarin is the most commonly used language in both mainland China and Taiwan, there has long been a lingering issue in overseas schools on the instruction of the written component due to both sides of the strait using different writing scripts: the simplified character set in mainland China and the traditional character set used in Taiwan.

This “One Language, Two Systems” problem, which is a play on the “One China, Two Systems” that famously describes the differing political and economic systems between both countries, reflects the lack of agreement between Beijing and Taipei over the teaching of simplified and traditional Chinese characters in domestic and overseas schools.

A recent solution by a Taiwanese governmental body though has proposed a solution that encourages juxtaposing traditional and simplified Chinese in language textbooks for schools attended by overseas Taiwanese, in order to encourage fluency in both scripts and to adapt to the needs in knowing both.

The move comes in part from the vast popularity of Taiwan’s entertainment culture permeating throughout Chinese-speaking countries in East Asia. The influence can be seen from the mainland Chinese youth, whom have shown interest in studying traditional Chinese characters due to factors such as album jacket song lyrics and streaming MV subtitles being written in the script.

The move to incorporate both writing scripts in textbooks have been met with much praise from Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, whom praised the influences from Taiwanese music artists like Jay Chou for promoting interest in students learning the traditional Chinese character set. “Academics from the mainland said many young people now read traditional Chinese because they listen to Jay Chou’s songs so much that they just learn it like that,” the president added.

While the traditional script is dominant in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the growing interest in learning the traditional script in other Chinese-speaking countries is further influenced by other forms of Taiwanese entertainment. Some examples include numerous people in Singapore and Malaysia learning Mandarin by watching Taiwanese dramas and variety shows embedded with traditional characters, while many Chinese living in North America watch Taiwanese political programs – embedded with traditional characters – more frequently than those living in Taiwan.

“It is a good thing to see a common language bridge the gap between Chinese around the world through modern technology,” quoted the Taiwanese president.

Source: Taipei Times

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