Monday, 23 November 2009

Hans Across the Water

On the subject of reducing the cost of translation without affecting output, the Blether Region notes that the Northern Ireland Assembly is among a surprising number of our public bodies to commission both Cantonese and Mandarin versions of official documents, despite the fact that they are separate languages only in their spoken form.

Chinese characters represent morphemes independent of phonological change, and are capable of widely variant realisation in the various analytical dialects. Non-standard characters do exist, and according to Wikipedia "written colloquial Cantonese has become quite popular in online chat rooms and instant messaging", a state of affairs that would put it on a par with current use of the Swiss German dialects. The online encyclopaedia adds that written Cantonese "is considered highly informal, and does not extend to any formal occasion".

Good to see the powers that be show consistency by attempting to split Chinese as well as Scots. Bad that taxpayers are once again footing the bill.

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