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President Ma attends press conference unveiling the Cross-Strait Common Vocabulary Dictionary

President Ma Ying-jeou attended a press conference held by the General Association of Chinese Culture on the morning of August 13 to mark the release of the Cross-Strait Common Vocabulary Dictionary. In addition to expressing his appreciation to all those who were involved in the compilation and production of the dictionary, the president said he hopes that its release will promote interaction and understanding between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
In remarks, the president stated that the compilation of this Chinese cultural dictionary that includes expressions used on both sides of the Taiwan Strait is something that he envisioned five years ago when he was running for president. He remarked that the Internet-version of the "Chinese Linguipedia" was unveiled in February of this year, and now the Cross-Strait Common Vocabulary Dictionary marks the actual publishing of this work. The president said that the existence of two different versions will meet the needs of a wide variety of readers, which he is very happy to see.
President Ma stated that the compilation of a dictionary is a thankless task, but the collaborative effort between private entities from each side of the Taiwan Strait made things even more challenging. The president commented that the General Association of Chinese Culture was able to complete the 1,800-page dictionary in 15 months. The total number of head entries plus subentries comes to more than 30,000. This was virtually a "mission impossible," the president said. Consequently, he said he would like to specially thank and recognize all the persons involved in compiling the dictionary for their hard work.
President Ma said that while political differences still exist between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the ability to finish this historically important dictionary shows the ability of both sides to shelve disputes and seek common ground while respecting differences. Language is a convention, the president noted, and there is no absolute right or wrong. In compiling the dictionary, both sides had to exhibit tolerance and respect in order to cooperate as equals and create a win-win situation, he said.
The president stressed that the text of the Cross-Strait Common Vocabulary Dictionary is presented in both simplified and orthodox characters to meet the needs of individuals from both sides, which means that no one has to abandon their preferred characters. Mainland China, he said, 50 years ago introduced a Chinese character reform initiative that led to the simplifying of about 2,300 characters. However, only some 460 of these characters bear no likeness to their orthodox counterparts, while the remainder have only been changed in their radicals. Consequently, he pointed out, it does not entirely make sense to regard all orthodox Chinese characters as complex characters. The president said that this is why he called on mainland China to promote writing in simplified characters and a reading knowledge of orthodox forms. In the same vein, he said, this would mean that shops in Taiwan need not change their signage or menus into simplified Chinese to cater to mainland Chinese visitors. President Ma said that the two types of characters could both be used side-by-side so that mainland Chinese visitors to Taiwan can have an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of orthodox characters.
President Ma also cited a number of popular expressions that appear in the dictionary, not only to highlight the practicality of the dictionary, but also to express his hope that the dictionary will help to bridge differences between the two sides. President Ma remarked that the dictionary will help to foster interaction and understanding between the two sides in an atmosphere where tradition is maintained and change is welcomed.
Among those attending the event were General Association of Chinese Culture President Liu Chao-Shiuan (劉兆玄) , Association Vice President Helen Chen-chi Lin (林澄枝), Cross-Strait Common Vocabulary Dictionary Convener Lee Hsien (李鍌), and Compiler-in-Chief Wen-Pin Chang (張文彬). Also in attendance were Minister without Portfolio Huang Kuang-nan (黃光男), Minister without Portfolio Chang San-cheng (張善政), and Political Deputy Minister of Education Lin Tsong-ming (林聰明).
【Source: Office of the President】