Saturday, January 14, 2017

Pinyin - the ultimate translation tool ?

As always, it is amazing where a bit of online wandering takes you. This morning my efforts were wandering around in the world of language learning. First Urdu, which led to Pashto, which in turn led to Mandarin Chinese. Pinyin is pretty much the tool of choice when it comes to westerners trying to do anything with Chinese.

It turns out that not only do westerners have great difficulty with learning Chinese, but native Chinese do as well. Prior to the development and adoption of Pinyin within China, there was an estimated 85% illiteracy rate. Today that rate hovers nearer 5%, with most people crediting pinyin.

The 111 year old man who developed it died today. His story is a good one and well worth the read.

The NY Times (link below) tells a great story both about the tool and its author -

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