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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Diseases of Language               437
of Sir Thomas Wade we can put a number in the top right-hand
corner, as in many primers for European students A new and much
better tianscription is the National Language Romamsation (Gwoyeu
Romatzyh) designed by a Chinese scholar for Chinese use In the
Gwoyeu Romatzyh the syllable has a basic core which corresponds to
its pronunciation in the first tone, and carries a terminal element to
distinguish the second, third, and fourth tones respectively Where
Wade gives TA1, TA2, TA3, TA4 the Gwoyeu Romatzyh puts DA,
DAJR, DAA, DAH Compounds are treated as single units like play-
house and housewife Absence of numeral superscripts or diacritic
marks lightens the job of the stenographer and keeps down the size of
the keyboard Below is a sentence (/ add yet another horizontal stroke}
in Wade's system and in the National Romamsatzon
WOO      TZAY     JIASHANQ          YIGEH     HERNGL
WO3       TSAI4      CHIA^SHANG4    I2-K£3    HfiNG2-fiRH°
/          again            add-upon            one-piece      horizontal + dimi-
nutive affix
The National Language 'Romamsation has made a promising start.
Dictionary periodicals, and textbooks have been printed in it, and
associations exist to advertise its far-reaching benefits In the absence of
other obstacles, its adoption in its present or an amended form would
bring the art of reading within the reach of every Chinese boy and
girl Foreigners could learn Chinese without having to master the
intricacies of a wholly alien script Elimination of illiteracy would go
hand in hand with diminishing prestige of scholars who have now a
vested interest in the survival of worthless traditions
The present form of writing shuts the door to the internationally
current terminology of modern science and technology Sometimes the
Chinese assimilate foreign words in print by using the device mentioned
in Chapter II (p 68) To a large extent they rely on Ersatz products
for new technical terms which they paraphrase in their own words.
Thus a mtarmn is what protects the peoples life and aniline^ less infor-
matively, is foreign red. Electricity is the lightning air and gas is air of
coal In short, China is assimilating twentieth-century science through
the medium of a seventeenth-century technique of discourse.
A social obstacle to reform remains while the Roman alphabet con-
tinues to be a symbol of foreign exploitation and Western arrogance;
but the advantages of phonetic writing do not necessarily entail the
use of our own letters A phonetic script based on 39 Chinese characters
has been under discussion since 1913 In 1918 it won a place on the