Sunday, January 15, 2017

Zhou Youguang

Amazing obit of Zhou Youguang in the Times today. Had never heard of the guy.

He died at 111, having invented pinyin, the standard system of transliterating Chinese into roman characters. Before the system was adopted in 1958, roughly 85% of the population was illiterate. Now that's down to about 5%. That's a massive shift, numerically much bigger than what Gutenberg, the King James Bible, public schools, and the development of a mass press did in the West.

Late in life he became a critic of the regime, and here's one great quote:  "Chinese people becoming rich isn't important. Human progress is ultimately progress towards democracy."

Though he is new to me, I miss him already.

Now I gotta go play tennis.

No comments: