One State, One People, One Language

When the republican government of China was established in 1912 it was fortunate enough to obtain as its first Minister of Education a man whose attainments as a scholar were no less great than his eminence as a liberal. Because of these qualities in Ts`ai Yüan-p`ei the republican Ministry of Education was made to follow a different line from that pursued by its imperial predecessor when confronted with demands for reforming the written language by adopting a phonetic system of writing. Within a few months of its establishment the new Ministry convened a provisional educational conference in Peking, accepted the conference's Proposal for the Adoption of a Phonetic Alphabet, and followed through by announcing its own plans to convoke a Conference on Unification of Pronunciation.1 The stated tasks of the conference were to establish a standard national pronunciation for the ideographs, to analyze the national pronunciation in terms of its basic sounds, and finally to adopt a set of phonetic symbols to represent these basic sounds. To accomplish these tasks it was proposed to invite as participants in the conference a number of scholars who could qualify on the basis of expert knowledge in one of the four fields of phonetics, primary school education, foreign languages, or dialect studies. The personnel was to include two representatives from each of the provinces and one each for the Mongols, Tibetans, and overseas Chinese.

You may read and browse this material at this website. However, no further copying, downloading, or linking is permitted. No part of this material may be further reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Users are not permitted to mount this file on any network servers.

For permission requests and to search our online catalog, please see our website at

To implement these plans the Ministry of Education invited Wu Chih-hui to become chairman of a committee in charge of preparation. Invitations were then sent out to eighty people to participate in the conference. These included such well-known language reformers as Wang Chao, Lu Kan-chang, and Ts'ai Chang. The name of the monarchist Lao Nai-hsüan was conspicuously absent from the list. When the meetings began in Peking on February 15, 1913, only forty-four delegates were able to attend. By then the political atmosphere had undergone rapid deterioration, marked by a widening cleavage between the views of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen and those of the more conservative Yüan Shih-k`ai. Ts`ai Yüan-p`ei was no longer Minister of Education, having resigned in the previous summer, shortly after initiating the steps which led to the convocation of the Conference on Unification of Pronunciation. The air was charged with conflict and disagreement.

In one of the first items of business, the conference elected Wu Chih-hui as chairman and Wang Chao as vice-chairman. But after enduring two months of incessant wrangling among the delegates Wu Chih-hui exclaimed, "I can't stand this!" and abruptly resigned. Wang Chao took over for two weeks but himself quarreled vigorously with Wu Chih-hui, Wang P`u, and others. He gave up the chairmanship to Wang P`u, his erstwhile disciple, whom he rebuffed by refusing to write a preface to a book written by his old colleague in the promotion of the Mandarin Alphabet. The cause of these outbursts of temper and temperament, as Wu Chih-hui himself remarked,2 was the desire of almost every delegate to go down in history as the originator of a great reform in the written language. The injection of such personal factors into the discussion of a problem which was already complicated by dissension over its linguistic and political aspects made it difficult to reach accord on any point without extended and acrimonious debate.

One of the basic points of disagreement was the form that the proposed phonetic script should take. Many pet schemes were advanced which ranged all the way from romanizations to kana-like symbols, shorthand systems, and picture-scripts.3 Some of these schemes had already appeared in print. Others were hastily put out in mimeographed form for consideration by the assembled delegates. It soon became apparent that the sentiment of the conferees was generally against the adoption of any system based on the roman alphabet and in favor of a system of symbols resembling characters. After further extended debate on the precise set of symbols to be chosen, the celebrated writer Lu Hsün and several students of Chang Ping-lin suggested as a compromise that the phonetic alphabet created by Chang, which was being used provisionally for purposes of phonetic notation by Wu Chih-hui's preparatory committee, be accepted in order to get the material together for the conference. Continued discussion of the matter in April and May finally brought agreement on a set of 39 symbols, 15 of which were identical with those created by Chang Ping-lin. These signs were given the name Chu-yin Tzu-mu or Phonetic Alphabet. Later they were frequently referred to also as Kuo-yin Tzu-mu or National Phonetic Alphabet.4

The most important issue confronting the assembly was the question of what sounds were to be represented by these symbols. In view of the fact that the conference which the delegates had been invited to attend had been designated as a Conference on Unification of Pronunciation, their task was clearly one of deciding on a standard language for the whole country. On this issue the delegates split into two groups. One comprised delegates from the Mandarin-speaking area under the leadership of Wang Chao. The other consisted of representatives from the southern coastal area under the leadership of the Kiangsu-Chekiang bloc, which in turn was led by Wu Chih-hui and Wang Jung-pao of Kiangsu, the latter being the man who in 1906 had drafted the reply of the Ministry of Education rejecting the phonetic scheme proposed by Lu Kan-chang. The two groups were about equal in strength. The focal point of their disagreement was Wang Chao's insistence that the Mandarin pronunciation should be taken as the standard as against the equally strong contention of southern representatives that such a procedure would not meet the problem of southern dialect sounds not existing in Mandarin. "Southerners cannot get along without voiced sounds and the entering tone," maintained WangJung-pao. He was echoed in this by Wu Chih-hui, who argued that Germany was strong because its language contained many voiced sounds and that China was weak because Mandarin was lacking in them.+

+ Voiced sounds (e.g. the sound represented by b in English bat) do not exist in Mandarin, which has only unvoiced sounds, either aspirated (e.g. somewhat like p in English pat) , or unaspirated (e.g. like p in English spat).The entering tone, commonly called the fifth tone, does not exist in standard Mandarin, which has only four full tones.

After a month of stalemate Wang Chao called a separate meeting of the thirty delegates, a majority of those attending the conference, who were representatives either of the Mandarin area or of the provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien. Wang told his audience that the stand taken by the absent Kiangsu-Chekiang bloc was tantamount to advocating the pronunciation of this region as the national language, a course which if adopted would bring disaster to China for generations to come. He repeated this assertion to the plenary conference and also advanced a proposal for a new system of voting to resolve the deadlock. His suggestion, calling for one vote for each province regardless of number of delegates, was quickly identified as a means of giving ascendancy to the numerically preponderant Mandarin provinces. The conference was thrown into an uproar. Wang Chao attempted to exert pressure to split the southern group by threatening to walk out on what he referred to as the "Kiangsu-Chekiang Conference on Unification of Pronunciation." Finally he almost came to blows with Wang Jung-pao. One day, when the latter happened to use the colloquial Shanghai expression huang-pao ch`e "rickshaw," Wang Chao mis-heard it as the Mandarin oath wang-pa tan "turtle's egg," whereupon he bared his arms and chased the speaker out of the hall. That was the last of Wang Jung-pao at the conference.

The upshot of all this controversy was a complete victory for the Mandarin group. Wang Chao got his way in the matter of voting procedure and was thereby enabled to end the more than three months of discussion by receiving approval for a series of agreements to his liking. The symbols remained limited to the 39 needed for representing the sounds of the standard language. They were to be used only for the standard language and were not to be adapted for writing the various dialects of the coastal area. The standard language was defined by fixing the pronunciation of some 6,500 characters in a Dictionary of National Pronunciation. Finally, accord was reached on submitting to the Ministry of Education a series of recommendations under the general heading of How to Promote the National Pronunciation. Chief among these recommendations were the following: (1) The Ministry of Education should immediately promulgate the alphabet. (2) The Ministry of Education should call on the highest officials in the provinces to expedite the learning of the symbols by establishing Bureaus for Propagating the Alphabet of National Pronunciation. (3) The National Literature course in primary schools should be replaced or supplemented by a National Language course. The national pronunciation should be taught by primary school teachers, and also by teachers of National Literature courses in middle and normal schools. (4) After the publication of the Dictionary of National Pronunciation, the national pronunciation should be indicated alongside the Chinese characters in primary school textbooks and in all public documents.

In general these recommendations amounted to suggesting an extension of the program which Wang Chao had himself pursued a few years earlier when he promoted his own Mandarin Alphabet with the aid and encouragement of Yüan Shih-k`ai. They were offered under somewhat different circumstances from those surrounding the harassed reformer under the empire. Now the patron of Wang Chao's original alphabet was no longer a mere regional leader, however powerful, but was president in fact and emperor in hope over all the vast territory of China. He was therefore in a position to promote literacy by extending the use of the new simplified writing over the whole country. But Yüan Shih-k`ai no longer displayed the same degree of interest in promoting literacy as he had before outdistancing his competitors in the race for leadership in China. During the period of his ascendancy he went no further than to approve a request made by Minister of Education Chang I-lin for the erection of a school to teach the new system. 5

The new alphabet won a greater measure of support in other official or semi-official quarters. In 1915 Wang P`u established a Society for the Unification of Pronunciation, whose members contributed from their own pockets for establishing schools to teach the Phonetic Alphabet. In the following year, under the leadership of Ts`ai Yüan-pei and Chang I-lin, who also resigned as Minister of Education and broke with Yüan, there was set up a National Language Study Society for the purpose of studying and promoting a standard National Language. In 1918, after the death of Yüan Shih-k`ai, this society finally induced the Ministry of Education to promulgate officially the alphabet which the Conference on Unification had recommended for immediate adoption five years earlier.6

In its order to this effect the Ministry revealed its motivation as fear that the aim of unification might be impeded if the symbols were not fixed by government order but were permitted to develop in perhaps unorthodox directions. To assist in achieving its objectives the Ministry of Education established in 1919 a new National Language Unification Commission, one of its tasks being to supervise the use of the National Phonetic Alphabet. In 1920, when the government officially substituted National Language for National Literature in the curriculum of primary schools, it also stipulated that the alphabet should be taught first in order to give the correct pronunciation. But this order was not enforced by the government and was nullified three years later.7 For a number of years thereafter there was little official interest in the subject.

In 1930 the hopes of those who looked to the government for support in an over-all program for reforming the script were revived once more. In that year the National Education Conference which was held in Nanking passed a resolution in favor of the National Phonetic Alphabet and sent a delegation to discuss the matter with Chiang Kai-shek and other top Kuomintang and government leaders, all of whom were reported as very enthusiastic about the phonetic signs as a means to attack illiteracy. Shortly thereafter the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee was moved to adopt a resolution proposed by Chiang Kai-shek and many other leaders who were in a position to speak for the government. The resolution called for setting a fixed time for putting into practice the following recommendations:

  1. "That all branches of the Party should instruct their members to use this phonetic system in order to facilitate the propaganda of Party principles.
  2. "That the National Government should notify all officials and employees that they must learn the phonetic signs so that they may easily realize and help the difficulties of the illiterate masses.
  3. "That the Ministry of Education be instructed to notify all the educational institutions that teachers and students alike should learn the phonetic signs and teach the masses." 8

To the delight of advocates of the National Phonetic Alphabet, the Ministry of Education took steps to implement these instructions from the Central Executive Committee by issuing in the same year what was called a General Mobilization Order. Enthusiastic response was reported from various provinces. In some places special campaigns involving mass meetings, lectures, and radio talks were conducted. Hope ran high for the cause of literacy. Success was reported from Nanking: "practically all the sign boards of the government institutions are written with characters coupled with phonetic signs." 9 But such successes as were reported were not commensurate with the hopes that were entertained. This disparity characterized the promotional activities for the National Phonetic Alphabet from the time the new system was first advanced in 1913.

Apart from the initial indifference of the government to the hopeful recommendations made by the Conference on Unification of Pronunciation in 1913, there was also some question as to how the official alphabet would fare in competition with the other schemes which were being advocated at the time. For a while Wang Chao's Mandarin Alphabet remained in high favor, especially among some of the missionaries, who had started to take over this Chinese-made system at the same time that they had begun to minimize the use of scripts based on foreign alphabets.10 The Mandarin Alphabet inspired a Japanese student of Chinese, Isawa Shuji, to publish an imitation which was so close to the original as to stir Wang Chao to the charge of plagiarism.11 Among the Chinese, too, there was for a while considerable activity in the creation of new scripts.12 None of these won many converts, however, and the new alphabet soon took the lead over all other schemes. What decided the issue in its favor was official acceptance and promulgation of the new alphabet by the government in 1918. But this action, motivated as it was largely by the desire of the government to discourage unorthodoxy in the script by the adoption of an official system, succeeded only in fixing the usage of the National Phonetic Alphabet and in reducing the production of new scripts. The alphabet failed to fulfill the expectations for more positive achievements.

The official nature of the National Phonetic Alphabet induced some missionaries to abandon the Wang Chao script and to place even less emphasis than before on the use of romanized forms of writing. Their motive in going over to the new phonetic symbols was reported by The Chinese Recorder, the chief organ of the Protestant missionaries in China, in the following terms: "It was felt that by linking up with the government in its effort to meet the need of illiterates it will be possible to promote a drive that will produce better results than under any other circumstances." It added that "The primary aim of the movement to adopt and promote the use of a new system of Simplified Chinese Writing is to enable those who are now illiterate to read and write intelligibly simple Mandarin."13 Similar views were expressed by a missionary conference with the declaration, "We are of the strong opinion that preparation of primary literature in local dialects should be discouraged, and that all localities should center around the National Phonetic System from the very beginning."14

Reports of success attending this program ranged all the way from moderately impressive figures on the output of religious materials to the account by one missionary of how his servants who had learned the system surprised him occasionally by bringing in a cake or pie with a verse in the new script.15 But other missionaries, not content with these triumphs, pointed out that though it was all right to promote the Phonetic Alphabet so as to bring about a standard language, it would still be a long time before the people of the South would give up their dialects for Mandarin, and in the meantime romanized local dialects should be permitted.16 This was a minority view, however, and failed to change the trend toward a decline in missionary activity in romanization without a compensating increase in the promotion of the Phonetic Alphabet.17

Among the Chinese, promotion of the official phonetic script varied according to the personal interest and whim of teachers, educational leaders, and holders of real power in the political-military organs of administration. In the period when he was still known as the "model governor," Yen Hsi-shan was reported as maintaining a most aggressive propaganda for the system, even to fixing time limits in which various sections of the community were expected to become literate in the new script.18 Yet for all his autocratic power he does not appear to have effected a noticeable increase of literacy in his domain. A certain amount of success was reported by lesser individuals, such as Wang P`u and his associates, whose activities in Peking were credited with teaching over ten thousand people to read and write in five-week courses in the Phonetic Alphabet.19 Yet not even the few who learned the new system remained literate in it. Twenty years after the creation of the new script the complaint was made that students who had learned the National Phonetic Alphabet gradually forgot it after leaving school.*20

Perhaps the greatest success of the script was achieved by its use in the Mass Education Movement. In the early twenties, when he was promoting his five-year plans to wipe out illiteracy in Changsha, Chefoo, and other cities under such slogans as "An illiterate nation is a weak nation," James Yen was also beginning his initial experiment with the use of the phonetic script.21 For a time he gave up the attempt in the face of the strong opposition which he encountered "from practically all sides," but later he tried again after the movement had acquired somewhat more prestige.22 The Mass Education Movement used the phonetic script only as an adjunct to characters, that is, as a means of learning the established ideographs, and made plain that the symbols were not to function as an independent form of writing. 23 The new script was said to have been well received by illiterates. Even those who had studied characters first in one or two years of primary school demanded to learn the symbols. "The Phonetic Alphabet is simpler than characters," they said. "After we have learned it we can read any book." 24 Indeed, it was even suggested by one writer that only by the use of the phonetic symbols could the Mass Education Movement achieve any real success. He maintained that the results were negligible with mass education in characters owing to their difficulty, and that even the "Thousand Character Theory" would provide no solution, so that the only way out was to use the Phonetic Alphabet and characters together, as in Japan. 25

Such use of the phonetic symbols stimulated the creation of fonts of type for the publication of materials in the alphabet Gothic, roman, cursive, and other styles of type were designed. 26 In some cases the symbols were cast as independent units. In others they appeared in fonts of characters with the symbols attached alongside or above. They were even applied to the linotype machine. In the United States the Mergenthaler Linotype Company, stirred by the prospects of a typographical variation on the theme of an extra inch to the Chinese shirt-tail, succeeded in making "a simple type system of forty symbols out of the chaos of forty thousand ideographs." When this accomplishment was announced in 1922 the symbols were hailed as "the open sesame to literacy." Yet a quarter of a century later the high hopes had dwindled to regret that no further developments had been made.27 What hindered real progress in the use of the National phonetic Alphabet was a combination of apathy, disagreement, and distrust. Lack of official interest in the new system is made plain by the fact that the government, for all its acceptance of the alphabet in 1918 and its later gestures in the direction of promoting the script, was content for the most part to issue paper plans rather than to undertake concrete actions. Those few bureaucrats who were sincerely interested in pushing the script were so frustrated by official half-heartedness that they were forced to give up the main burden of promotion to private individuals. But here too the enthusiasm of the few was circumscribed by the indifference of the many.

Disagreement over the new alphabet arose with respect to both the form of the script and its application. Not everyone was satisfied with following the dominant group of reformers in the belief that the adoption of phonetic symbols resembling simplified characters constituted the maximum change that would be permitted. Others remarked on the superiority of a script based on the roman alphabet. In some cases such admission of superiority was of little significance because it was accompanied by the conviction that the adoption of roman letters could only follow a long period of transition in which the official Phonetic Alphabet would act as a bridge from ideographs to romanization. But in other cases a number of reformers, Chinese as well as foreign, echoed the query posed by Toriyabe Yotaro, an exponent of romanization against the kana-script imitated by supporters of the Phonetic Alphabet, when he asked, "Why does China even now continue to insist on creating such a script when we already have a universal and very convenient roman alphabet?" +

+ Quoted by Yang Yü-fu, "The Japanese and the Reform of the Chinese Script," Kuo-yu yueh-k`an, Han-tzu kai-ko hao (August 1922), p. 137 [in Chinese], from an article by Toriyabe Yotaro in Romaji zasshi, the organ of the romaji movement in Japan. Toriyabe's position was not typical of that taken by most Japanese commentators on the Chinese language. More common was the view expressed by Sakamoto Ichiro that homonyms and dialects would make it difficult to use any phonetic system of writing for Chinese, and that therefore the only reform which seemed likely of success was one involving a reduction of the number of strokes in the ideographs. ("Language," Lectures on Contemporary China, VI [1939], 227 [in Japanese].)

Differences of opinion arose also with regard to the manner in which the Phonetic Alphabet was to be applied. As a result, although the aim was to achieve uniformity in the use of the symbols, in practice there was considerable variation. There was disagreement as to whether to indicate four or five tones, whether to represent them by the traditional system of dots or by a new series of graphic symbols, and whether to indicate the tones of all syllables or only those where ambiguity might result. In actual practice most people ignored tone representation altogether.28 More important still was the division of opinion over the relation of the symbols to the old script. The dominant opinion held that the phonetic symbols should be used only in combination with the ideographs; to discourage the idea that the symbols might be used as an independent system of writing the government in 1930 ordered the official name Chu-yin Tzu-mu (Phonetic Alphabet) to be changed to Chu-yin Fu-hao (Phonetic Signs).29 This stand, which was greatly strengthened by the nature of the signs themselves, amounted to a negation of any basic reform of the written language, for the new symbols were expected merely to aid in the acquisition of the old. Dissatisfaction with this view was expressed partly by the independent use of the Phonetic Alphabet but chiefly by ignoring it altogether.

There was a lack of unanimity, too, with regard to the relation of the new script to the dialects of China. The main emphasis was on using the symbols to indicate the pronunciation of the official standard language. To this end considerable use was made of the signs in dictionaries as a new and improved means of providing the standard pronunciation of characters. In some printed texts, especially those used in mass education and primary school teaching, the symbols were used alongside the characters as an aid to reading the characters in the approved pronunciation. But southerners who did not know the official language were not aided much by this device. It was therefore considered a stroke of sheer genius when Wu Chih-hui suggested that the vertical columns of characters should be accompanied by phonetic symbols on both sides, with those on the right indicating the official pronunciation and those on the left the dialect sounds. 30 Yet somehow even this failed to solve the contradiction between the dialects and the standard language.

Still another source of disagreement had to do with the question of just what constituted the standard language that was to be represented by the National Phonetic Alphabet. In the 1913 Conference on Unification of Pronunciation the system of majority voting had been applied also to determining the official Mandarin pronunciation of the approximately 6,500 characters listed in the Dictionary of National Pronunciation. The result was a compromise which the Chinese dubbed Blue-Green Mandarin because of its mixed quality. Later this mixed Mandarin was replaced by an approximation of the Peking dialect as the standard. But disagreement continued both as to what the standard should be and even as to whether there should be a single official language at all.

All these instances of apathy and disagreement, serious though they were, might perhaps have been overcome by the indefatigable little band of supporters of the National Phonetic Alphabet if they had not been confronted also with opposition engendered by distrust of the new script. There were two aspects of this distrust, one linguistic or cultural and the other social or political. Many Chinese resisted the use of the symbols because they feared that these would undermine the established written language and would thereby cause a break with the traditional culture of China. Holders of this view were described by a supporter of the Phonetic Alphabet as looking upon the symbols as a hidden dagger which assassins hoped to plunge into the heart of China. To them he said, "Don't get the superstitious idea that the ideographs are the soul of China." He also protested that the Phonetic Alphabet intended no harm to the symbols of old. 31 Despite these admonitions the suspicion remained that the old script and therefore the old culture of China would be endangered by the introduction of a new system of writing.

These misgivings were compounded by the greater fear of the social and political consequences which might result from adopting a form of writing that might be readily accessible to the people as a whole. It took no great political acumen to discern that more might be endangered than the old script and the old culture by a change to a new form of writing. To some who were intent on maintaining the established order, therefore, the National Phonetic Alphabet appeared as an instrument of revolution and its supporters as advocates of subversive ideas. Thus Chang Tso-lin, military overlord of Manchuria with a fear of revolution and a fondness for Japanese yen, viewed the new developments as an underhand plot against his regime. In 1924 he banned the teaching of the National Phonetic Alphabet at the same time that he ordered the use of only the old literary style in school textbooks, forbade scholars to make trips into the countryside, and placed a ban on athletic competitions and the Boy Scout movement. 32

Yet not all those who opposed the National Phonetic Alphabet were motivated by opposition to the basic idea of reform as such. Many thought that there were better ways to achieve a modification of the script. Specific defects of the new symbols were considered cause either for revising the signs or for abandoning them entirely. Some felt that the symbols could not succeed because they were too intimately tied to characters. Others thought the form of the symbols to be the main obstacle to their suitability as a popular system of writing. 33

As a result of all this the victory of the new script over its rival systems proved to be short-lived. Just about the time that the National Phonetic Alphabet succeeded in gaining ascendancy over the Mandarin Alphabet and other schemes, the evolution of literary and political movements into a new stage gave rise to renewed consideration of the roman alphabet as the basis for reform of the Chinese written language.

What seems to have initiated the new stage of discussion was a letter written in March 1918 by Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung, a well-known philologist and professor of literature at National Peking University, to Ch`en Tu-hsiu, who at the time was editor of La Jeunesse, the leading organ of young Chinese intellectuals, and who soon afterward became one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party. In his letter Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung expressed approval of Ch`en Tu-hsiu's demand for a break with the Confucian ideology which had dominated Chinese life for more than two thousand years, and also offered his idea as to how this was to be carried out. "If you want to abolish Confucianism," he said, "you must first abolish the Chinese script." To his mind there was little of value in Chinese literature, 99.9 per cent of which he dismissed as merely transmitting Confucian ideology and Taoist mythology.

It seemed to Ch`ien that the ideographic script could not be adapted to the needs of modern China. He also saw no solution in the attempts which had thus far been made to apply a phonetic system of writing to Chinese. Indeed, it appeared to him that it would be impossible to apply a phonetic system of writing to Chinese at all. These views also led him to the conclusion, reached earlier by Wu Chih-hui and others, that Chinese writing itself would have to be abandoned and replaced by Esperanto. As an intermediary step he suggested using Chinese for ordinary purposes and resorting to English or French for complicated ideas. He also advanced as an alternative solution the recommendation of Wu Chih-hui to use the paihua or vernacular style of ideographic writing as the basis of the written language while effecting a gradual transition through the piecemeal introduction of Esperanto terms to express special ideas which were not susceptible of translation into Chinese.34

In his answering letter Ch`en Tu-hsiu argued that to abolish the writing of Chinese also meant to abolish Chinese speech. This he felt to be impossible. His solution was to retain Chinese speech but to write it in a roman script. 35 Somewhat similar views, but with important modifications, were expressed by Hu Shih, who joined the discussion by writing to Ch`en Tu-hsiu as follows: "I think China will have to have an alphabetic writing in the future. But there are too many monosyllables in the literary language and it would be impossible to change over to an alphabetic script. So it is first necessary to replace the literary writing with paihua writing, and after that to change from paihua writing to alphabetic writing."36

Hu Shih reiterated these views in continued discussion of the problem in La Jeunesse and elsewhere. He argued against the use of the National Phonetic Alphabet on the grounds that "such half-hearted measures" did not satisfy the literary revolutionists, adding, "Literature it is, they hold, and not any pronouncing alphabet or pronouncing dictionaries which will eventually standardize the spoken language." As part of his emphasis on the necessity of creating a vernacular written language Hu Shih stressed the need of using polysyllabic compounds in place of the terse monosyllables of the older literary style. Such a usage, he pointed out further, would prepare the basis for obviating the confusion of homonyms which appeared to many to be the chief stumbling block to the eventual adoption of a phonetic system of writing.37

To those who opposed any tampering at all with the established system of writing in ideographs and in the old literary style, Hu Shih's proposed reform smacked of the radical, but to others it seemed not to go far enough. They agreed with Hu Shih on the need for basing the written language on the vernacular, but they went farther than he by demanding that the vernacular be written in a phonetic system of writing rather than in the ideographic script. Many were at the same time not so convinced as Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung of the hopelessness of doing something about the Chinese language short of abandoning it for Esperanto.

Thus in 1918 and 1919, when the upsurge of Chinese nationalism known as the May Fourth Movement added further stimulus to demands for reform, the renewal of debate revealed cleavages between those who wanted no change in the written language, those who sought to write the vernacular with ideographs, those who hoped to write the vernacular with a phonetic script, and those who despaired of Chinese to the extent that they thought it would have to be replaced by Esperanto. In the over-all controversy, which aroused the most passionate feelings of the disputants,38 Hu Shih's compromise proposal emerged into a position of ascendancy over all other suggestions for solving the problem of the Chinese written language. But even as it grew in favor his solution was viewed as inadequate by those who turned again to the roman alphabet as the basis for the Chinese script.

The fullest expression of the views of the new adherents to the cause of romanization was made by Fu Szu-nien, another leader of the younger intellectuals, in an article which bristled with barbed comments against the ideographs and their supporters. "The ancient books have never been accessible to the masses," he maintained, "and our national learning has had no influence in the lives of the ordinary people." He therefore expressed agreement with Wu Chih-hui's judgment that "The Six Classics and the Three Histories should be used to paper windows or as fuel to burn the Erh Ya and the Shuo Wen." Did the conservatives contend that the old literature was valuable and the old script artistic? "Ha! Ha!" he exclaimed, "this really makes me die laughing." In his view this was like saying that bound feet were also artistic and should be preserved. No, in reality the script was merely a tool. "Language is a means of expressing ideas," he said, "and writing is a means of expressing language." Those who disagreed with him and looked with reverence upon the ideographs were upbraided as "the foremost fools in the world."39

What Fu Szu-nien proposed as a means of overcoming the difficulty of the old script, which he considered to be an obstacle not only to the spread of literacy but also to the extension of knowledge "among the few who are literate," was to devise a new system of writing based on the roman alphabet. He did not himself work out the new system but undertook instead to advance the theoretical principles which he thought should govern its creation. Foremost among these principles was reliance on the roman alphabet as the basis of the new orthography, but with the addition of symbols borrowed from the Cyrillic alphabet or specially created to represent unusual Chinese sounds. He advocated the policy of adopting one pronunciation as the standard for the whole country, as opposed to writing the dialects separately, in order to promote a "unified national language," selecting for this purpose the Blue-Green Mandarin which had already achieved a certain status in the years since it came to the fore in the 1913 Conference on Unification of Pronunciation. He considered it essential, finally, to indicate tones and also suggested the use of a few special symbols, unrelated to the pronunciation, for the purpose of solving the problem of homonyms.40

Although not everyone agreed in full with the tenets advanced by Fu Szu-nien, the nearest approach to unanimity was achieved on the point that the new writing should ignore the dialects in favor of a standard national language. Only a few followed Ch`en Tu-hsiu in seeking separate systems of writing for various dialects, though rather more advocated minor concessions to regional speech, such as permitting variant indications of tones according to the dialect pronunciations. 41 But the dominant group of romanizers, supported by Hu Shih and other advocates of a single system of vernacular writing in characters, now enjoyed greater relative strength than had been possessed by their like-minded predecessors in 1913 and before. As a result they had little difficulty in taking the lead in the new phase of discussion for reform of the written language. The National Language Monthly, the organ which they founded in 1922 to disseminate their views on the need for a uniform national language, soon became the leading journal in the movement for reform of the script. It attained particular influence through the publication in 1923 of a special number which carried the English title, "Reformation of the Chinese Characters," and another which dealt even more directly with the problem of alphabetic writing. 42

In his introductory remarks which led off the special issue on reform of the Chinese script, Hu Shih reported that his historical researches had led him to discover a general principle: "In the history of change in speech and writing, generally the common people are the reformers and the scholars and writers are the conservatives." From this he evolved a supplementary principle: "In promoting reform in speech and writing, scholars and writers should understand that it is their duty to observe the trend in the speech of the people, to accept the people's proposals for reform, and to give them formal recognition." His own conclusion from these principles was that reform of the script should concern itself with following the tendency of the people to evolve simpler ideographs by a reduction in the number of strokes.

But whereas Hu Shih was content to advocate "reform," Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung asked for nothing less than "a revolution in the Chinese script." Li Chin-hsi sought to soften the effect of this immoderate language by pointing to previous revolutionary changes in the history of Chinese writing. Then he presented sample texts written in various schemes of alphabetic writing that had been created by his colleagues. Abandoning some of his earlier views on Esperanto and the possibility of alphabetizing Chinese, Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung contributed two such schemes, one based on the International Phonetic Alphabet and the other on the simple roman alphabet. The most important contribution, however, was made by Y. R. Chao (Chao Yüan-jen).43

In 1916, while still a student of linguistics in the United States, Chao had become interested in alphabetizing Chinese. Though maintaining a cautious and scholarly approach to the problem, he went so far as to draw up a list of fourteen arguments in favor of alphabetizing the language, and at the same time incisively countered sixteen frequently made objections to such a change. + The first step in effecting the transition, he emphasized, was systematic study by "wise experts" and "for decades if necessary."44 Later he himself sketched out a system of romanized writing and, in 1921, while teaching Chinese at Harvard University, made experiments in the use of his scheme. In his earliest attempts at alphabetic writing there was much that was purely tentative and experimental. The choice of roman letters to represent specific Chinese sounds was not yet entirely fixed and, more important still, the treatment of tones was still flexible, as indicated by his suggestion that tones need be indicated only occasionally by means of marks of punctuation (periods, commas, etc.) placed before the syllable. "The use of tone marks," he stated, "is also to be optional, being needed only where its absence leads to ambiguity or insufficient degree of auditory intelligibility." 45

+ Chao's compilation of sixteen frequently made objections to alphabetization is of special importance because supporters of the ideographs have failed to present equally reasoned and comprehensive statements of their position. Instead they have remained on the defensive and merely advanced occasional generalized assertions to the effect that characters are a unifying force, are not as difficult as claimed, and are better suited to the language than any phonetic script would be. Some of these assertions have already been presented; others will be taken up in subsequent chapters, especially in Chapters 7-15.

This uncertainty and flexibility began to disappear in the later stage of Chao's ideas which were presented in his contribution to the special number of the National Language Monthly on reform of the Chinese characters. Here Chao also refuted objections to the romanization of Chinese and at the same time presented twenty-five "principles which everyone who proposes a national phonetic alphabet should carefully note." Chief among these were the use of only the twenty-six letters of the roman alphabet without diacritical marks, the writing together of syllables which formed words, and, most important of all, the adoption of a fixed system of indicating tones by a fundamental change in the spelling of the syllable.46

The twenty-five principles advanced by Chao were for the most part quickly accepted by the leading advocates of reform in the Chinese script. Henceforth the National Phonetic Alphabet came to be looked upon even more as a mere adjunct of the ideographs and the roman alphabet became more generally accepted as the basis for reform among those few who took any interest at all in the subject. In 1923 Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung asked the Ministry of Education's National Language Unification Commission, of which he was a member, to establish a romanization unit. This was approved along with the request to ask the Minister of Education to promulgate a standard system of romanization for the whole country. As a first step in carrying out this program an eleven-man Committee for Research on the Romanized Spelling of the National Language was set up under the National Language Unification Commission. But the political situation made it impossible to achieve any positive results.

Later what amounted to a new subcommittee was formed by five of the members who were in the habit of meeting informally to study phonetics and to discuss the problem of romanized writing. The dominant figure in this informal subcommittee was Y. R. Chao. Another member was Li Chin-hsi, a specialist on Chinese grammar who was also the chief historian of the movement for reform of the script. Two other members, Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung and Wang I, were students of Chinese phonetics. The last of the five was the well-known writer, Lin Yutang. These scholars presumably qualified as the "wise experts" into whose hands Y. R. Chao had previously asked that the study of the problem of the script be entrusted. That they were themselves not unaware of their importance is indicated by the incident in which Li Chin-hsi, in response to the request of a Peking newspaper for contributions on the theme "Who are the Pillars of the New China?" submitted an article claiming this distinction for the members of the study group, himself included.47

From the autumn of 1925 to the autumn of 1926 the five experts held a series of twenty-two meetings which were designed to result in the elaboration of a definitive system of alphabetic writing. In general they encountered little difficulty in reaching agreement. Closely following the proposals made by Y. R. Chao, the experts evolved a new system which they designated in the orthography of the system itself as Gwoyeu Romatzyh, or G.R. for short, a name meaning National Language Romanization.48

The most distinctive feature of this new romanization was the indication of tones by what was called "tonal spelling." Instead of using diacritical marks or numbers, as in the case of the Wade and other well-known systems of transcribing Chinese, G.R. indicated the tonal variations of otherwise similar syllables by a somewhat complicated system of variations in the spelling of the syllables themselves. To give one of the simpler examples, Wade fen1 fen2, fen3, fen4 appeared respectively as fen, fern, feen, fenn in the National Language Romanization. In this case the first tone was represented by the basic syllable fen, the second tone by interpolating a silent r, the third tone by doubling the vowel e, and the fourth tone by doubling the final n. The tones indicated were those for the Peking dialect.49

The G.R. technique of tone representation has been described by one ardent Western admirer as an "epoch-making innovation."50 Similar views have been expressed by equally enthusiastic Chinese supporters of the new romanization. Such enthusiasm might be dismissed as typical of all adherents of new schemes of writing were it not that the supporters of G.R., in comparison with those who had been most active in promoting earlier phonetic schemes, were generally much more highly trained in the field of modern linguistics. Y. R. Chao himself unquestionably ranks as one of the world's foremost phoneticians.

Lin Yutang, too, though better known as a novelist and wit, had received training as a student of language, as was true also of Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung, Wang I, Chou Pien-ming,51 and other Chinese supporters of Gwoyeu Romatzyh. Denzel Carr and Walter Simon, the foremost Western proponents of the new scheme, were likewise steeped in the science of language. Scholars such as these of course encountered no difficulty whatsoever in grasping the technique of tone representation and in reaching a learned judgment on the merits of the new romanization. It was owing to such outstanding scholars that the support given G.R. was distinguished more for its quality than its quantity.

The National Language Romanization was able to win considerably wider support for its other main feature, namely the writing of the Peking dialect as the standard language for the whole country. In contrast, toward the end of the Manchu period reformers like Lao Nai-hsüan had insisted on devising separate scripts for the southern coastal dialects. At the 1913 Conference on Unification of Pronunciation, too, there were reformers with somewhat similar views who had been defeated only by parliamentary maneuvers and threats of physical violence. But by the time that G.R. was created the idea of achieving national unity through uniformity in the script had made considerably more headway in the dominant intellectual circles of the day. Of the five men who created the National Language Romanization, not one was a native of Peking. Indeed, apart from Li Chin-hsi, who was a native of Hunan, the remaining four all came from the southern coastal area. Yet they found no difficulty in reaching agreement to promote the Peking dialect as the exclusive standard. Among educated Chinese generally this was becoming increasingly accepted also as the form of speech and writing which was to effect the unification of the country.

The adoption of the Peking dialect as the standard marked the abandonment of the "old pronunciation" for a "new pronunciation." The trouble with the old Blue-Green Mandarin, from the point of view of linguistic science, was that it amounted to nothing more than an artificial standard with no basis in living speech. Such a compromise assemblage of sounds could not be used by the new National Language Romanization to record the speech of the people. It was therefore replaced by a new standard which was defined most precisely as "the speech of natives of Peking who have received a middle-school education."52 The new standard was provided with a fixed basis when the old Dictionary of National Pronunciation was replaced in 1932 by a new Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use in which the Peking pronunciation of characters was represented by the new romanization.

Despite its creation in 1926 as a new instrument for effecting the unification of the country, no use was made of Gwoyeu Romatzyh during the victorious sweep of Chinese nationalism which reached its height in the great anti-warlord drive of 1926-27. In the latter year one journal devoted a special issue to consideration of the new scheme, but it was not until the next year, in 1928, that G.R. became somewhat more widely known. At this time the controversy over the problem of the Chinese script was rekindled when P`eng Hsüeh-p`ei, who almost two decades later became a Kuomintang Minister of Information at the end of World War II, published an article with the provocative title, "Abolish Chinese characters! Adopt a phonetic script!" The ideas presented therein were generally akin to those previously stated by Fu Szu-nien. P`eng added that he had learned of G.R. only after writing up his own proposals, and commented further that he agreed with most of the tenets of G.R. except the system of tone representation, which appeared to him to be excessively difficult.53

A supporter of the new romanization rebutted this contention with the statement that the system was only a little troublesome and could be learned by everyone in the country in twenty-five years, or maybe one or two years more than that, if enough spirit and effort were put into it.54 A somewhat different time-period was suggested by Li Chin-hsi in an article entitled, "It is Even Possible in a Hundred Years." But this estimate was conditional upon the expenditure of a considerable amount of energy in promoting the system. Otherwise Li thought it might take as long as five hundred years for G.R to replace characters, a figure which he said was a theoretical average based on Ch`ien Hsüan-t`ung's estimate of a hundred years and Wu Chih-hui's estimate of a thousand years.55

Much of the energy expended toward reaching the desired goal was concentrated, especially in the early days, on continued discussion of various technical aspects of the new script. These activities were supplemented by the production of textbooks to explain and illustrate the system. The best known of the texts was Y. R. Chao's Tzueyhow Wuu-fen long (The Last Five Minutes), an adaptation of A. A. Milne's one-act play, The Camberley Triangle. Another text by the chief creator of the National Language Romanization presented Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-glass in G.R., Chinese characters, and English. In addition to its use in such textbooks the National Language Romanization was also used in a number of dictionaries, chiefly as another means of indicating the pronunciation of characters. Finally, there were a few short-lived journals devoted to the promotion of the new romanization. The earliest of these appeared to be aimed chiefly at the restricted audience interested in technical aspects of the new script, but there were two later journals which were designed to assist in the two main attempts that were made for the actual promotion of G.R. among the masses.56

The first experiment in the popular application of the National Language Romanization was conducted in 1934 at Cheng-chou, Honan, under the auspices of Huang Hsüeh-chou, a high official of the Lunghai Railroad who was instrumental in establishing a branch office of the Association for the Promotion of G.R. in order to bring the new system to the railway workers under his direction. It was claimed that in a period of four months, by studying one hour a day, the workers learned not only the reading and writing of the new script, but also the use of a typewriter. Chief among the publications used at this time was a journal entitled Pudding. The other non-technical journal of the new romanization, entitled Shiangshiah Ren (The Villagers), was used in the second attempt to promote G.R. that was initiated in 1936 among the peasants of P`ing-yüan in Shantung. Success was also claimed in this experiment. The results of the Cheng-chou and P`ing-yüan tests were summarized by a supporter of the National Language Romanization in the following statement: "These experiments have proved beyond a doubt that ignorant farmers and laborers need only 100 hours to learn the National Romanized."51

In making these claims the adherents of G.R. revealed themselves as no less vocal than supporters of other schemes in extolling the potentialities of their systems. But in terms of actual accomplishments the proponents of the new romanization were rather more reticent. They made no claims of success comparable to those advanced by predecessors of G.R. who boasted of thousands and even tens of thousands of new readers in their systems. Despite the exhortations of Lo Ch`ang-p`ei, a leading exponent of G.R., the new scheme was not pushed vigorously even by its supporters.58 All in all G.R. aroused perhaps even less interest than had previous attempts to reform the script.

The chief objection raised against Gwoyeu Romatzyh, at least initially, was concerned with certain technical aspects of the system. Doubts about the practicality of G.R. were expressed by Bernhard Karlgren, a linguist and sinologist of note, with the remark that the system "is based on a series of very fatal phonetic lies, and for this reason it will be very difficult to learn, and consequently impractical."59 Lu Hsün stated a similar opinion on the difficulty of the script, apparently having in mind also the difficulty for ordinary Chinese and not for trained linguists.60 Another Chinese commentator, in a typical summation of this point of view, contended that the difficulty of G.R. stemmed from an unnecessarily rigid and complicated system of tone representation. He thought that apart from a very few special cases where ambiguity might arise, the context would make the meaning clear without any tone-representation at all. To illustrate his point he presented a sentence containing the simple syllable ma, which might have the meaning of either horse, oath, or hemp, and another simple syllable mai, which might theoretically be understood as sell, buy, or several other words. He maintained that with no indication of tones whatsoever the sentence Mama pu kei wo mai t`ang ch`ih still could be understood only as meaning, "Mama won't buy any candy for me to eat." "Here mai is of course to be read as 'to buy' and not 'to sell,'" he said. "To pronounce it as 'sell' would make the sentence meaningless. And the one who won't give me any candy to eat is certainly mama, and not horse, oath, or hemp -- any three-year-old child knows that."61

Such objections to the G.R. technique of tone-representation and even to indicating tones at all accounted for much of the refusal of Westerners and Chinese alike to have anything to do with the system. The missionaries, who had first created their own romanizations and had then made use of the Chinese-made National Phonetic Alphabet, ended up by almost completely ignoring this latest scheme to reform the script. Even the Chinese, who could not be charged, as were the Westerners,62 with a native inability to appreciate the importance of tones, showed little approval for the G.R. technique. But in the case of the National Language Romanization, as also earlier in the case of the National Phonetic Alphabet, objections of this sort might perhaps have been overcome by the scholarly supporters of the new system if there had not been other difficulties to contend with as well. These other difficulties had to do with the G.R. objective of unification of the national language.

Part of the failure of G.R. to make any significant progress toward this goal stemmed from the widely held conviction that there were better ways to attain the desired end. Many people, especially those in a position of influence in the government, considered that the ideographic script already supplied the means for achieving linguistic and political unity. As a result when the National Language Unification Commission, under whose auspices G.R. had been created, sought approval for the new system from the Ministry of Education, it was rebuffed and was forced to offer the scheme to the public on its own. Not until two years later, in 1928, did the Ministry of Education officially promulgate the system, and then only because Ts`ai Yüan-p`ei had returned to take charge of this office. Even so G.R. was promulgated not as a new system of writing but merely as the Second Pattern of the National Alphabet. What little government interest there was in such matters was concentrated on the earlier National Phonetic Alphabet. At the time that Chiang Kai-shek and other top officials in the government were passing resolutions in favor of the earlier alphabet, plans to extend the promotion of the National Language Romanization had to be given up for lack of funds.63

Official support for the ideographs as against new schemes of phonetic writing was of such a nature as to discourage the mildest attempts at reform. In 1934 there was a strengthening of the forces opposed even to the Hu Shih movement for writing Chinese in the vernacular instead of the literary style. Wu Chih-hui charged that the standards for official preferment were such as to lead to greater stress on literary Chinese in schools in order to enable students to get jobs in the government.64 Even the attempt to simplify the script by a reduction in the number of strokes of the ideographs was halted when the Ministry of Education was forced to rescind its plan for the compulsory use of simplified characters. +

+ The abandonment of these plans was ordered by the Central Political Council of the Kuomintang in January, 1936. ("Simplified Chinese Characters," Quarterly Bulletin of Chinese Bibliography, In, No.1 [March, 1936], 20; In, No.2 (June, 1936), 92.) The Central Political Council was a small body which had the function of exercising "the Party's sovereign control over the government." (Paul M. A. Linebarger, The China of Chiang Kai-shek [Boston, 1943], p. 16.) At the time, the Council had as chairman Wang Ching-wei and as vice-chairman Chiang Kai-shek. The then Minister of Education was Wang Shih-chieh.

Left to their own devices, the adherents of the National Language Romanization had a hard time going beyond the creation of a new script to the promotion of its use. There seemed to be a feeling among some supporters of the basic tenets of G.R. that perhaps what was needed was a perfection of the system by more research on its technical features. Chou Pien-ming, as a result of research extending over a period of two decades beyond the creation of the National Language Romanization, announced that he had "vastly improved upon G.R." by various innovations, such as making use of the letter v to indicate the pronunciation of the sound represented by Wade ü.65 Y. R. Chao himself was of the opinion that the ideographs would have to remain for a long time and that it might therefore be necessary to devote attention also to elaborating a system of Basic Chinese.66 Others became discouraged and did nothing more either in revising or promoting the new romanization. ++

++ Mention might be made here also of reformers who though not precisely belonging to the G.R. school were nevertheless closer in outlook toward it than toward any other of the major movements for reform of the script. One of these advocated the indication of the four tones by the letters c, q, v, x and addition of other letters to indicate the radical of the character represented by the romanized syllable. (C. C. Wang [Wang Ching-ch`un], "Hsinhanzyx [Phonetic Chinese]," Chinese Social and Political Science Review, XXIV [1940-41], 263-90, 453-56 and Wang Chin-chun [Wang Ching-ch`un], "The New Phonetic System of Writing Chinese Characters," Chinese Social and Political Science Review, XII [1929], 144-60.) Another reformer suggested as a means of distinguishing words of different meaning but identical pronunciation the capitalization of substantives and the addition of a silent h to mark verbs. ([Wang] Liao-i, "The Possibility of the Europeanization of Chinese writing," Ta-li p`ing-lan, No.198 [April 26, 1936], 11-14 [in Chinese]. For a defense of the G.R. system of tone-representation as against Wang's proposals see Liu Hsüeh-chün, "The Europeanization of Chinese Writing and the National Language Romanization," Ta-li p`ing-lan, No.200 [May 10, 1936], 15-18 [in Chinese].) These and many other proposals of the same general nature were not taken up to any extent and do not merit extensive discussion.

The movement was also held back by reformers who, unlike their predecessors who were emphatic in relating language reform to political progress, tended instead to meet the crisis of the mid-thirties by questioning the existence of any relationship between language and politics.61 Many supporters looked not to themselves but to a strong man to force the reform of the script, as had happened in the case of Turkey. "If China had a Kemal Pasha," said a Western admirer of the National Language Romanization, "we should probably see this system replace the characters in daily life."68 This sentiment was echoed by many Chinese adherents of G.R., among whom Turkey replaced Japan as the model for reform of the written language.69

The frustration engendered among supporters of G.R. by their inability to rely on the aid of an enlightened dictator was heightened by the enormity of their task in attempting to promote a single national language. Under any circumstances they would have found it no easy matter to plan for universal literacy in a country of 450,000,000 people of whom eighty or ninety per cent were as yet unable to read or write. But their task was rendered infinitely more difficult when they sought to achieve their goal with a script that was not of the easiest and in a dialect that was almost totally incomprehensible to about a fourth of the population. Yet failure left them undaunted in their conviction that a standard language was of primary importance. When the veteran educator Chiang Monlin ventured to stress the priority of literacy he was bluntly reminded by a supporter of G.R. that "Literacy is necessary, but unification of the National Language is even more important."70

As to the means of attaining this end, little was said except to reiterate that only the National Language Romanization based on the Peking dialect should be used by everyone in the country. A few, like Chou Pien-ming,71 attempted to meet the problem of dialects by suggesting the possibility of devising a compromise script that would be pronounced differently according to the dialects, a procedure which some Jesuit missionaries claimed they had already succeeded in working out in their so-called "interdialectical romanization." +++ Most Chinese who sought to achieve national unity through uniformity in the script considered that it was only the ideographs which should be used to bind together all the millions of people in China. In the opinion of Ch`en Kuo-fu, one of the principal leaders of the Kuomintang who thought that "China's ability to achieve unity is entirely dependent on having a unified written language," it was wrong for Chinese to use a Western script even for signing their names.72 There was also a widely held conviction that even the non-Chinese peoples of the frontier regions should be made to join the process of unification by compulsory instruction in the standard ideographic script. This policy was officially advanced in the 1942 "Three-Year Education Plan" of the Ministry of Education, then headed by Ch`en Li-fu, the brother of Ch`en Kuo-fu, with the statement that frontier education should be first of all in the Chinese language and should be "planned, enforced, and undertaken by the Central Government."73

+++ The interdialectical romanization of the Jesuits, which made its first appearance in the early thirties, was conceived by Father H. Lamasse and carried out by Father Ernest Jasmin in North China. It was taken up also by missionaries in Shanghai and Manchuria. (Corta, "China tropieza en sus siguos," op.cit., p. 137.)

The Jesuit system, and one by Lin Feng, were both based on what might be called "historical spelling." Lin claimed the discovery of "proto-phones," or the basic or original sounds of characters, dating back to around the sixth century A.D. The same pronunciation was taken by Lamasse and Jasmin as their orthographic base. All three argued that if Chinese were given a uniform spelling based on the early pronunciation it would be possible for modern dialect speakers to read the same word in various ways according to their own particular dialect because of the operation of what Chou Pien-ming called "a sort of Grimm's law." (Internationalizing the Chinese Script: Progress in Quokyu Romanization 1937-45 [Amoy, 1945], p. 22.) As Lin Feng put it (in his " A Phonetic Method of Learning Chinese," The Chinese Critic, VI, No.33 [August 17, 1933], 812) :" A fortunate point is that when a dialect alters a sound (proto-phone) , then the whole group of characters of that sound varies alike; that is to say, characters of one group do not change their sounds among themselves; they vary according to definite laws.

"The very fact that the various dialects are derived from the proto-phones under definite laws helps the adaptability or convertibility of the protophones back to the various dialects including mandarin, the recognized National Language."

To give one example from Lamasse and Jasmin, the forms lyk, lyp, and lyt are supposed to be recognizable to both a Cantonese and native of Peking as meaning respectively "force," "a kind of hat," and "chestnut," though the northerner will pronounce them all as li with a falling tone and the southerner will pronounce them with three different finals. (See H. Lamasse and Ernest Jasmin, "L`écriture alphabetique du chinois ...," Collectanea Commissionis Synodalis, IV [1931], 639-57, 755-93, 935-47, 1061-73. Also Ernest Jasmin, "Exposé plus simple de la théorie de la romanisation interdialectique," Collectanea Commissionis Synodalis, v [1932], 732-35.)

There are the usual eulogies as to the excellence of the interdialectical romanization. Considerably less enthusiasm has been exhibited by speakers of Cantonese who complained that the system was unintelligible to them. (Collectanea Commissionis Synodalis, VI [1933], 28-31.) For a fuller criticism of the system see Willem A. Grootaers, "Dialectes chinois et alphabétisation. A propos de la Romanisation Interdialectique," Bulletin de l`Université l`Aurore, Series iii, viii (1946), 207-35.

But all these disparate views on linguistic unification expressed differences more of means than of ends. The disagreement as to means went no further than debate on the relative merits of the National Phonetic Alphabet, the National Language Romanization, the interdialectical romanization, the ideographic script, and the innumerable minor variations on these forms of writing. The more important agreement as to ends revealed itself in the emphasis on the necessity for achieving linguistic unity. This latter was part of the wider tendency among the dominant political and intellectual circles of China -- originating in the period of the empire and growing in strength after the establishment of the republic -- in the direction of a kind of integral nationalism. Their goal might be summarized by the formula one state, one people, one language.