Saturday, October 4, 2008


Chungcheng, Jhongjheng or Zhongzheng is the name of some places, roads, schools or organizations in Taiwan. It was derived from a given name of Chiang Kai-shek, thus when translating into or other non-Chinese languages, it sometimes would be replaced by "Chiang Kai-shek" instead of simply by transliteration.

The of "中正" in these names sometimes omitted the alphabet "''g''", or replaced the "u" by "o", or vice versa. And sometimes separated two syllables by a hyphen or . In Taiwanese Min Nan, it is pronounced as "Tiong-chèng" or "Diong-zìng". And the pronounced it as "Zúng-ziin" or "Zhùng-zhǐn".

In addition, some usages of "中正" in Chinese language are unrelated to Chiang Kai-shek, such as "zhongzheng" , the name of a government official of the Nine-rank system in the imperial China. In the history of Japan, it also exist some usage of "中正", such as the "Chuuseikai" , these names were also unrelated to Chiang.

Standard romanizations in Mandarin

* Wade-Giles: ''Chungcheng''
* : ''Jungjeng''
* Hanyu Pinyin: ''Zhongzheng''
* Tongyong Pinyin: ''Jhongjheng''


Political divisions

*Zhongzheng District , Taipei
*Jhongjheng District , Keelung
*Chungcheng Village


*Chungcheng Road
*Chungcheng Street


*Chungcheng Elementary School
*Chungcheng Junior High School
*Chungcheng Senior High School
*National Chung Cheng University
*Chung-Cheng Armed Forces Preparatory School


*Chungcheng Park

Chinese Postal Map Romanization

Chinese Postal Map Romanization refers to the system of romanization for Chinese place names which came into use in the late Qing dynasty and was officially sanctioned by the Imperial Postal Joint-Session Conference , which was held in Shanghai in the spring of 1906. This system of romanization was retained after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and since it was in use in the official postal atlas of the Republic of China, it remained the most common way of rendering Chinese place names in the West for a large part of the twentieth century. Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the system has gradually been replaced by Pinyin, which is now almost universally accepted.

The system was based on Wade-Giles for al purposes, especially for placenames in the official postal atlas, s and s. It uses some already common European names of Chinese places that override the Wade-Giles system, and incorporates some al and historical pronunciations.

Main differences with Wade-Giles include:
* Complete lack of diacritic and accent marks.
* ''Chi'', ''ch'i'', and ''hsi'' are represented as either ''tsi'', ''tsi'', and ''si'' or ''ki'', ''ki'', and ''hi'' depending on historic pronunciation, e.g.,
** Peking
** Tientsin
** Tsinan
* Unless it is the sole vowel in the syllable, the Wade-Giles ''u'' becomes ''w'', e.g.,
** Ankwo
** Chinchow
* Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian placenames are to be Romanized from the local dialects, such as , Cantonese, and .
* Popular pre-existing European names for place in China are to be retained, such as those of the treaty ports.

Other orthograpic peculiarities include:
* ''hs-'' becomes ''sh-'' or ''-s'', e.g.,
* ''-ê'' and ''-ei'' both become ''-eh'', e.g., and . ''-ê'' occasionally also can be ''-e'' or ''-ei''.
* final ''u'' sometimes become ''-uh', e.g.,

Yale Romanization

The Yale romanizations are four systems created during World War II for use by United States . They romanized the four East Asian languages of , Cantonese, , and . The four Romanizations, however, are unrelated in the sense that the same letter from one Romanization may not represent the same sound in another.


Mandarin Yale was developed to prepare American soldiers to communicate with their Chinese allies on the battlefield. Rather than try to teach recruits to interpret the standard romanization of the time, the Wade-Giles system, a new system was invented that utilized the decoding skills that recruits would already know from having learned to read English, i.e. it used English spelling conventions to represent Chinese sounds. It avoided the main problems that the Wade-Giles system presented to the uninitiated student or news announcer trying to get somebody's name right in a public forum, because it did not use the "rough breathing mark" to distinguish between sounds like ''jee'' and ''chee''. In Wade-Giles the first of those would be written ''chi'' and the second would be written ''ch'i''. In the Yale romanization they were written ''ji'' and ''chi''. The Yale system also avoids the difficulties faced by the beginner trying to read pinyin romanization because it uses certain Roman letters and combinations of letters in such a way that they no longer carry their expected values. For instance, ''q'' in pinyin is pronounced something like the ''ch'' in ''chicken'' and is written as ''ch'' in Yale Romanization. ''Xi'' in pinyin is pronounced something like the ''sh'' in ''sheep'', but in Yale it is written as ''syi''. ''Zhi'' in pinyin sounds something like the ''ger'' in ''gerbil'', and is written as ''jr'' in Yale romanization. For example: in Wade-Giles, "knowledge" is ''chih-shih''; in pinyin, ''zhishi''; but in Yale romanization it is written ''jr-shr''—only the latter will elicit a near-correct pronunciation from an unprepared English speaker.

The tone markings from Yale romanization were adopted for pinyin.


Unlike the Mandarin Yale romanization, Cantonese Yale is still widely used in books and dictionaries for Standard Cantonese, especially for foreign learners. Developed by Parker Po-fei Huang and Gerald P. Kok, it shares some similarities with Hanyu Pinyin in that unvoiced, unaspirated consonants are represented by letters traditionally used in English and most other European languages to represent voiced sounds. For example, is represented as ''b'' in Yale, whereas its aspirated counterpart, is represented as ''p''. Because of this and other factors, Yale romanization is usually held to be easy for American English speakers to pronounce without much training. In Hong Kong, more people use Standard Cantonese Pinyin and Jyutping, as these systems are believed to be more localized to Hong Kong people .



* The finals ''m'' and ''ng'' can only be used as standalone .


There are nine tones in six distinct tone contours in Cantonese.
Cantonese Yale represents tones using tone marks and the letter ''h'', as shown in the following table:

* Tones can also be written using the tone number instead of the tone mark and ''h''.
* In modern Standard Cantonese, the high-flat and high-falling tones are indistinguishable and, therefore, are represented with the same tone number.
* Three entering tone: entering high-flat, entering mid-flat, entering low-flat have the same tone contours with high-flat, mid-flat, low-flat, but it have difference in which affect its short falling cadence only. So we use the same representation between three entering tones and flat tones.



Korean Yale was developed by Samuel Elmo Martin and his colleagues at Yale University about half a decade after McCune-Reischauer, and is still used today, although mainly by , among whom it has become the standard romanization for the language. The Yale system places primary emphasis on showing a word's morphophonemic structure. This distinguishes it from the other two widely used systems for romanizing Korean, the Revised Romanization of Korean and McCune-Reischauer. These two usually provide the pronunciation for an entire word, but the morphophonemic elements accounting for that pronunciation often can not be recovered from the romanizations, which makes them ill-suited for linguistic use. In terms of morphophonemic content, the Yale system's approach can be compared to a North Korean orthography known as Chos?n? sin ch'?lchap?p .

The Yale romanization represents each morphophonemic element by the same Roman letter, irrelevant of its context, with the notable exceptions of and which the Yale system always romanizes as ''u'' after bilabial consonants because there is no audible distinction between the two in many speakers' speech, and of the ''wu'' that represents in all other contexts.

Vowel letters

Consonant letters

The letter ''q'' indicates '''' which is not shown in hangul spelling:
* ''halq il'' /''hallil''/
* ''halq kes'' /''halkket''/
* ''kulqca'' /''kulcca''/

In cases of letter combinations that would otherwise be ambiguous, a period indicates the orthographic syllable boundary. It is also used for other purposes such as to indicate sound change:
* ''nulk.un'' “old”
* ''kath.i'' /''kachi''/ “together”; “like”, “as” etc.

A macron over a vowel letter indicate that in old or dialectal language, this vowel is pronounced :
* ''māl'' “word”
* ''mal'' “horse”
Note: Vowel length as a distinctive feature seems to have disappeared at least among younger speakers of the Seoul dialect sometime in the late 20th century.

A superscript letter indicates consonants that have disappeared from a word's and standard pronunciation. For example, the South Korean orthographic syllable is romanized as follows:
* ''yeng'' where no initial consonant has been dropped.
Example: ''yenge''
* ''lyeng'' where an initial l  has been dropped or changed to n  in the South Korean standard language.
Examples: ''lyengto''; ''lNo Muhyen''
* ''nyeng'' where an initial n  has been dropped in the South Korean standard language.
Example: ''nYengpyen''

The indication of vowel length or pitch and disappeared consonants often make it easier to predict how a word is pronounced in Korean dialects when given its Yale romanization compared to its South Korean hangul spelling.

There are separate rules for Middle Korean. For example, ''o'' means in a romanization of the current language, but for Middle Korean, where is transcribed as ''wo''. Martin 1992 uses italics for romanizations of Middle Korean as well as other texts predating the 1933 abandonment of ''arae a'', whereas current language is shown in boldface.


Wade-Giles , sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a Romanization system for the language used in Beijing. It developed from a system produced by in the mid-19th century, and reached settled form with Herbert Giles' - dictionary of 1892.

Wade-Giles was the main system of transcription in the English-speaking world for most of the 20th century, used in several standard reference books and in all books about China published before 1979. It replaced the Nanjing-based romanization systems that had been common until late in the 19th century. It has mostly been replaced by the pinyin system today, but parts of it, especially the names of individuals and certain cities remain in use in the Republic of China .

Transcription, not transliteration

Although frequently improperly called "transliteration", Wade-Giles' system is a of Chinese. There can be no transliteration of Chinese script into any phonetic script, like the Latin alphabet. Any system of romanization of Chinese renders the sounds and not the characters .


Wade-Giles was developed by Thomas Francis Wade, a British ambassador in China and Chinese scholar who was the first professor of Chinese at Cambridge University. Wade published the first Chinese textbook in English in 1867. The system was refined in 1912 by Herbert Allen Giles, a British diplomat in China.

The Wade-Giles system was designed to transcribe Chinese terms, for Chinese specialists. This origin has led to a general sense that the system is non-intuitive for non-specialists and not useful for teaching Chinese pronunciation.

The Republic of China has used Wade-Giles for decades as the de facto standard, co-existing with several official but obscure Romanizations in succession, namely, Gwoyeu Romatzyh , MPS II , and Tongyong Pinyin . Taiwanese place names are still being virtually written in Wade-Giles, and many Chinese Americans and also write their Chinese names in Wade-Giles.

The Hanyu Pinyin system is the official and most widely used system in the People's Republic of China. In Singapore, Pinyin is taught in national schools and widely used in official documents, although a reversal of government policy changed the requirement to register people's Chinese names in Pinyin. Wade-Giles spellings and Pinyin spellings for Taiwanese place names and words long accepted in English usage are still used interchangeably in English-language texts in both countries.

Technical aspects

One symbol-multiple sounds

A common complaint about the Wade-Giles system is the representation of the stop consonant pairs using apostrophes: ''p, p', t, t', k, k', ch, ch'''. However, the use of apostrophes preserves ''b'', ''d'', ''g'', and ''j'' for the romanization of containing voiced consonants, such as Shanghainese and Taiwanese whose century-old Pe?h-ōe-jī is similar to Wade-Giles. POJ, Legge romanization, Simplified Wade, and EFEO Chinese transcription use the letter ''h'' instead of an apostrophe to indicate aspiration . The convention of the apostrophe or "h" to denote aspiration is also found in romanizations of other Asian languages, such as McCune-Reischauer for and ISO 11940 for .

People unfamiliar with Wade-Giles often ignore the apostrophes, even so far as leaving them out when copying texts, unaware that they represent vital information. Hanyu Pinyin addresses this issue by employing the Latin letters customarily used for voiced stops, unneeded in Mandarin, to represent the unaspirated stops: ''b, p, d, t, g, k, j, q, zh, ch.''

Partly because of the popular omission of the apostrophe, the four sounds represented in Hanyu Pinyin by ''j'', ''q'', ''zh'', and ''ch'' all become ''ch'' in many literature and personal names. However, were the diacritics to be kept, the system reveals a symmetry that leaves no overlap:
* The non-retroflex ''ch'' and ''ch''' are always before either ''i'' or ''ü''.
* The retroflex ''ch'' and ''ch''' are always before ''a'', ''e'', ''ih'', ''o'', or ''u''.

Furthermore, Wade uses ''lo'' for three distinct sounds ; ''jo'' for two ; and ''no'' for two .

One sound-multiple symbols

In addition to several sounds presented using the same letter, sometimes, one single sound is represented using several sets of letters. There exists two versions of Wade-Giles Romanizations for each of the Pinyin syllables ''zi'', ''ci'', and ''si''.
* The older version writes ''ts?'', ''ts'?'', and ''ss?''
* The newer version writes:
** ''tzu'' for ''ts?'', but it still remains ''ts-'' before other vowels, as in ''tsung'' for the Pinyin ''zong''.
** ''tz'u'' for ''ts'?'', but remains ''ts'-'' before other vowels.
** ''szu'' or ''ssu'' for ''ss?'', but is ''s-'' before other vowels. Note, not ''ss-''.

Precision with empty rime

On the other hand, Wade-Giles shows precisions not found in other major Romanizations in regard to the rendering of the two types of empty s :
* ''-u'' after the sibilant ''tz'', ''tz''', and ''s'' .
* ''-ih'' after the retroflex ''ch'', ''ch''', ''sh'', and ''j'' .
These empty rimes are all written as ''-i'' in Hanyu Pinyin , and all written as ''-ih'' in Tongyong Pinyin. Zhuyin, as a non-Romanization, does not require the representation of any empty rime.

Partial interchangeability of ''uo'' and ''e'' with ''o''

What is pronounced as a close-mid back unrounded vowel is written usually as ''-e'' as in pinyin, but sometimes as ''-o''. This vowel in an isolate syllable is written as ''o'' or ''ê''. When placed in a syllable, it is ''e''; except when preceded by ''k'', ''k''', and ''h'', when it is ''o''.

What is actually pronounced as ''-uo'' is virtually always written as ''-o'' in Wade-Giles, except ''shuo'' and the three syllables of ''kuo'', ''k'uo'', and ''huo'', which already have the counterparts of ''ko'', ''k'o'', and ''ho'' that represent pinyin ''ge'', ''ke'', and ''he''.


In addition to the s used for distinguishing the , Wade-Giles uses hyphens to separate all syllables within a word, whereas Pinyin only uses apostrophes to separate ambiguous syllables. Originally in his dictionary, Giles used left apostrophes consistently. Such orientation was followed in Sinological works until the 1950s or 60s, when it started to be gradually replaced by right apostrophes in academic literature. On-line publications almost invariably use the plain apostrophe . Apostrophes are completely ignored in Taiwanese passports, hence their absence in overseas Chinese names.

If the syllable is not the first in a word, its first letter is not , even if it is a proper noun. The use of apostrophes, hyphens, and capitalization is frequently not observed in placenames and personal names. For example, the majority of overseas Chinese of Taiwanese origin write their given names like "Tai Lun" or "Tai-Lun", whereas the Wade-Giles actually writes "Tai-lun". The capitalization issue arises partly because ROC passports indiscriminately capitalize all letters of the holder's names . It is also due to the misunderstanding that the second syllable is a middle name.

Wade-Giles uses superscript numbers to indicate , and official Pinyin uses diacritics. The tone marks are ignored except in textbooks.

Comparison with Pinyin

* Wade-Giles chose the -like ''j'' to represent a Northerner's pronunciation of what now is represented as ''r'' in Pinyin.
* ''?'' always has a diaresis above, while Pinyin only employs it in the cases of ''nü'' and ''lü'', while leaving it out in ''-ue'', ''ju-'', ''qu-'', ''xu-'', ''-uan'' and ''yu-'' as a simplification because u cannot otherwise appear in those positions. Because ''yü'' must have a diaresis in Wade, the diaresis-less ''yu'' in Wade-Giles is freed up for what corresponds to ''you'' in Pinyin.
* The Pinyin vowel cluster ''ong'' is ''ung'' in Wade-Giles.
* After a consonant, both the Wade-Giles and Pinyin vowel cluster ''uei'' is written ''ui''. Furthermore, both Romanizations use ''iu'' and ''un'' instead of the complete syllables: ''iou'' and ''uen''.
* Single ''i'' is never preceded by ''y'', as in pinyin. The only exception is in placenames, which are hyphenless, so without a ''y'', syllable ambiguity could arise.
* The isolated syllable ''eh'' is written as ''ê'', like in Pinyin. But unlike Pinyin, which uses ''-e'' if there is a consonant preceding the sound, Wade-Giles uses ''-eh''.
* In addition to being the schwa, ''ê'' also represents the Pinyin ''er'' as ''êrh''.

Comparison chart

Note: In Hanyu Pinyin the so-called 5th accent is written leaving the syllable with no diacritic mark at all. In Tong-yong Pin-Yin a ring is written over the vowel instead.


Chinese Postal Map Romanization is based on Wade-Giles, but incorporating a number of exceptions that override the systematic rules.

Tongyong Pinyin

Tongyong pinyin was the official romanization of in the Republic of China between 2002 and 2008. The system was unofficially used between 2000 and 2002, years of study about a new romanization system for the Republic of China. The Ministry of Education approved the system in 2002 but its use was not mandatory. As of January 1, 2009, ''Tongyong pinyin'' will no longer be official, due to the Ministry of Education's approval of ''Hanyu pinyin'' on September 16, 2008.


The impetus behind the invention of Tongyong Pinyin came from the need for a standardized romanization system in Taiwan. For decades the island had employed various systems, usually simplifications or adaptations of Wade-Giles.

Tourists, expatriates and immigrants in Taiwan most often use English when they are not familiar with Mandarin. The Hanyu Pinyin system, the system used in the and by the United Nations, offers strengths as a consistent phonetic system for Mandarin but has serious shortcomings in helping speakers with no training pronounce Mandarin words reliably. The sounds Hanyu Pinyin assigns to the letters ''q'' and ''x'', for example, are not idiomatic in the languages of most users of the Roman alphabet. Tongyong Pinyin represents an effort to preserve the strengths of the pinyin system while overcoming some of these difficulties.

The majority of Taiwan native citizens do not speak Standard Mandarin as their mother tongue. The first language most individuals learn as children is Taiwanese. This language, unwritten until the nineteenth century, has historically lacked a consistent means of phonetic representation. The same situation exists with the mother tongues spoken by sizable minorities in Taiwan, such as Hakka and aboriginal peoples. The languages and literature of these people is a subject of study and education in Taiwan, and many place names are derived from languages other than Mandarin. Tongyong Pinyin thus represents an effort to provide a phonetic romanization system for Mandarin that, with very little modification, could be used to represent Taiwanese and other languages of the island .

Tongyong Pinyin was introduced in Taiwan in 1998 by Yu Bor-chuan . The goal was to preserve the strengths of pinyin while overcoming some of the pronunciation difficulties Hanyu Pinyin presents to international readers. Ironically, using the system he developed to ameliorate this problem, most international readers will pronounce the second character of his name incorrectly as "bore." Yu's system has undergone some subsequent revision.

Discussion and adoption of Tongyong Pinyin, like many other initiatives in Taiwan, quickly acquired a partisan cast turning on issues of national identity . Officials who identified most strongly with the nation itself, such as the Democratic Progressive Party and allied parties, saw no reason to adopt Hanyu Pinyin just because mainland China and the UN had. If Tongyong Pinyin more adequately met the nation's needs, the ROC had reason enough to adopt it . Officials who identified more strongly with Chinese culture, such as the Kuomintang , saw no reason to introduce a new system unique to Taiwan if Hanyu Pinyin had already gained international acceptance. Each side accused the other of basing its preference on anti-China or pro-China sentiment rather than an objective discussion of community goals .

In early October 2000 the Mandarin Commission of the Ministry of Education proposed to use Tongyong Pinyin as the national standard. Education Minister Ovid Tzeng submitted a draft of the Taiwanese Romanization in late October to the Executive Yuan but the proposal was rejected. In November 2000 Minister Tzeng suggested the government adopt Hanyu Pinyin with some modifications for local dialects, but the proposal was rejected. On 10 July 2002 the ROC's Ministry of Education held a meeting for 27 members. Only 13 attended. Two left early, plus the chairman could not vote, so the bill for using Tongyong Pinyin was passed by ten votes .

With the KMT's and electoral victories in 2008, Tongyong Pinyin will be replaced by Hanyu Pinyin as the ROC government standard, and will be the only official romanization system, starting in 2009 . The romanization system one encounters in Taiwan varies according to which government authority administers the facility. Street signs in most areas employ Tongyong Pinyin, including the cities of Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung and neighboring counties. Taipei uses Hanyu Pinyin exclusively . Taipei County uses Hanyu Pinyin with Tongyong Pinyin given in parentheses. Modified Wade-Giles spellings are still popularly used for many proper names, especially personal names and businesses.

The political impasse stalled Ministry of Education goals of replacing Zhuyin with pinyin to teach pronunciation in elementary school. Zhuyin is still widely used to teach Mandarin pronunciation to schoolchildren. Children's books published in Taiwan typically display Zhuyin characters next to Chinese characters in the text.

On September 17, 2008, the Ministry of Education announced that the government standard for romanization will be switched to Hanyu Pinyin nationwide, effective January 1, 2009.



Notable features of Tongyong Pinyin are:
* Tone 1 is unmarked.
* Hanyu Pinyin's ''zh-'' becomes ''jh-'' .
* Hanyu Pinyin's ''x-'' and ''q-'' are completely unused in Tongyong Pinyin: they become ''s-'' and ''c-'' .
* The Hanyu Pinyin ''-i'' known as the empty rime , are shown as ''-ih'' , i.e, those in Hanyu Pinyin as ''zi'' , ''ci'' , ''si'' , ''zhi'' , ''chi'' , ''shi'' , and ''ri'' all end in ''-ih'' in Tongyong Pinyin.
* ''ü'' used in pinyin is replaced by ''yu''.
* ''-eng'' becomes ''ong'' after ''f-'' and ''w-''
* ''wen'' becomes ''wun''
* ''-iong'' becomes ''yong'', e.g. ''syong'' instead of pinyin ''xiong'' . .
* Unlike Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin, ''-iu'' and ''-ui'' contractions can be optionally written out in full as ''-iou'' and ''-uei''. However, according to the Ministry of the Interior, in romanizations of names of places that is at township-level or below township-level, the letters must be written in full.


* Tongyong syllables in the same word are to be separated by hyphens, like Wade-Giles. Except that, in Ministry of the Interior's romanizations, placenames have no spaces between the syllables.
* Tongyong uses marks like Zhuyin, and not like Hanyu, i.e., Tongyong has no mark for the first tone, but a dot for the neutral tone .
* The optional syllable disambiguity mark is apostrophe , e.g., ''ji'nan'' vs. ''jin'an''. The mark may also, as in the Ministry of the Interior placenames, be a hyphen.

Shared Features with Hanyu Pinyin

Ignoring tone, 80.53% of the ''Tongyong Pinyin'' syllables are spelled identically to those of ''Hanyu Pinyin;'' 19.47% are spelled differently. The difference widens when syllables are measured according to average frequency of use in everyday life, resulting in a 48.84% difference in spellings.


The prevalence of Hanyu Pinyin as an established system weighs at least as heavily on the debate over Tongyong Pinyin as any feature of the system itself. Arguments presented in the ongoing debate include these.

Supporting Tongyong Pinyin


* Tongyong spelling, by design, yields more accurate pronunciation from non-Chinese speakers than does Hanyu Pinyin. Tongyong does not use the letters ''q'' and ''x'', for example, in ways that confuse non-Chinese speakers who lack training in the system.
* Persons familiar with Hanyu Pinyin will encounter nothing radically different when using Tongyong Pinyin.
* Tongyong eliminates the need for diacritics for the umlauted-u sound.
* The spellings "fong" and "wong" more accurately reflect the sounds of 風 and 翁 as pronounced in Standard Mandarin in Taiwan, as compared to "feng" and "weng".


* Tongyong is business-friendly because of the ease it offers in pronunciation. Internationals in Taiwan may more easily describe and find place names, personal names, businesses and locales.
* Tongyong Pinyin requires no more special accommodation in international correspondence than the difference in Chinese characters already requires.
* Tongyong strikes a balance between the need for internationalization and Taiwan's local needs.
* Tongyong Pinyin would not supplant Hanyu Pinyin in Taiwan, as Hanyu is rarely encountered outside the Taipei area anyway and has never been in common use. Tongyong is intended to supplant the many variants of Wade-Giles which remain the dominant form of romanization encountered in Taiwan. No one questions the superiority of Tongyong Pinyin to Wade-Giles and the benefit to be gained from the change.
* Tongyong does not force its exclusive use on those who have already studied Hanyu. One can use any system one wishes in rendering characters while typing or formatting documents in Mandarin. Computers and electronic devices in Taiwan already offer Hanyu Pinyin and MPS keyboards as options. Transitions between romanized forms are also easily achieved if needed.
* Romanization is most useful to individuals who, lacking training in Mandarin, encounter names and terms in press reports and literature. Students of Mandarin gain literacy in Chinese characters and drop romanization systems of any kind. It therefore makes sense, if one can preserve other goals, to make a priority of enabling confident first-time pronunciation of Mandarin words by the untrained.

Against Tongyong Pinyin


* Hanyu Pinyin romanization includes fewer phonological rules in its systematization than Tongyong Pinyin, albeit at the expense of requiring more phonemes. This may be seen in the Tongyong Pinyin treatment of the letters ''c'' and ''s''.

/c/ --> /_i
/s/ --> /_i

* Internal inconsistencies exist within Tongyong Pinyin, such as the use of different letters to represent the same sound: ''e'' vs. ''u'' and ''i'' vs. ''y'' ; or the use of the same letter to represent different sounds .
* Every Mandarin syllable can be expressed in equal or fewer keystrokes in Hanyu Pinyin compared to Tongyong Pinyin .
* Despite the fact that 19.47% of Tongyong syllables are spelled differently from Hanyu Pinyin, if measured according to average frequency of word use in everyday life, the percentage of different spellings is 48.84%.


* The standard romanization system of the PRC, and is Hanyu Pinyin. For this reason it is the system taught in educational systems outside of Taiwan. Internationals learning Mandarin thus have to learn Hanyu Pinyin anyway. Whatever the merits of a new system, it is unlikely to displace Hanyu Pinyin at this level.
* Any new system of romanization, regardless of its merits, makes romanization choices more complex rather than more simple. New spellings are introduced where established spellings already exist and even compete. "Qing Dynasty" and "Ch'ing Dynasty" can now also be spelled as "Cing Dynasty" . "Zhou Dynasty" or "Chou Dynasty" can now also be spelled as "Jhou Dynasty" .
* The use of Tongyong or Hanyu in Taiwan appears tied to too heavily to the fortunes of specific political parties. Given the situation, why not just default to the system everyone else is already using?
* Hanyu Pinyin is more business-friendly because businesses already use it.
* Tongyong Pinyin is currently more useful to visitors and tourists who are unfamiliar with Mandarin than to residents who have to learn Mandarin. Because Tongyong has not been adopted for language learning in Taiwan's schools, most natives of Taiwan continue to use other romanization methods . Expats and immigrants who study Chinese generally have to learn Hanyu Pinyin.
* Unlike the PRC, where citizens are taught Hanyu Pinyin in schools, Tongyong romanization is not taught in the general educational curriculum. As a result, few citizens of Taiwan ever use it. Given the fact that overseas learners of Mandarin are not taught Tongyong Pinyin either, there are few people in the world who use it in any practical sense. In other words, if locals do not use it and foreigners do not use it, why promote it?

Comparison between Hanyu Pinyin and Tongyong Pinyin

The differences between Hanyu and Tongyong pinyin are relatively straightforward:
*The palatalized consonants are written ''j, c, s'' rather than ''j, q, x''
*The retroflex consonants are ''jh, ch, sh'' rather than ''zh, ch, sh''
*The "buzzing" vowels are written ''ih '' rather than ''i''
*''Yu'' and ''yong'' are written this way even after a consonant '','' rather than as ''ü, u,'' or ''iong''
*''You'' and ''wei'' are written ''iou'' and ''uei'' after a consonant '','' rather than contracted to ''iu'' and ''ui''
*''Eng'' is written labialized ''ong'' after the labial consonants ''f, w ,'' though ''weng/wong'' contracts to ''ong'' after another consonant in both systems
*''Wen'' becomes ''wun''
*First tone is not written, but neutral tone is

Spelling in Gwoyeu Romatzyh

The spelling of Gwoyeu Romatzyh can be divided into its treatment of s, s and s. GR uses contrasting pairs of consonants to represent initials in Chinese: for example ''b'' and ''p'' represent IPA and . The letters ''j, ch'' and ''sh'' represent two different series of initials: the and the sounds. Although these spellings create no ambiguity in practice, readers more familiar with Pinyin should pay particular attention to them: GR ''ju'', for example, corresponds to Pinyin ''zhu'', not ''ju'' .

Many of the finals in GR are similar to those used in other . Distinctive features of GR include the use of ''iu'' for the close front rounded vowel spelt ''ü'' or simply ''u'' in Pinyin. Final ''-y'' represents certain allophones of ''i'': GR ''shy'' and ''sy'' correspond to Pinyin ''shi'' and ''si'' respectively.

The most striking feature of GR is its treatment of tones. The first tone is represented by the basic form of each syllable, the spelling being modified according to precise for the other three tones. For example the syllable spelt ''ai'' becomes ''air, ae and ''ay in the other tones. A neutral tone can optionally be indicated by preceding it with a dot or full stop: for example ''perng.yeou'' "friend".

, a common feature of Chinese, is marked in GR by the suffix ''-l''. Owing to the rather complex orthographical details, a given rhotacized form may correspond to more than one basic syllable: for example ''jiel'' may be either ''ji + el'' or ''ji + el'' .

A number of frequently-occurring morphemes have abbreviated spellings in GR. The commonest of these, followed by their Pinyin equivalents, are: ''-g'' , ''-j'' , ''-m'' , ''sh'' and ''-tz'' .

Basic forms

GR introduced several innovations in Chinese romanization. One of these, later adopted by Pinyin, was to use contrasting pairs of consonants to represent sounds in Chinese. For example ''b'' and ''p'' represent IPA and . Another feature of GR surviving in Pinyin was to write words as units: eg ''Gwoyeu'' rather than the Wade-Giles ''Kuo2-yü3''.

The basic features of GR spelling are shown in the following tables of initials and finals, the latter referring to the basic T1 forms. Many of the spelling features are the same as in Pinyin; differences are highlighted in the tables and after the second table. The follow in a separate section.

In the tables Pinyin spellings are given only where they differ from GR, in which case they appear in ''italics'' below the GR spelling. The tables also give IPA pronunciations in .


:GR differs from Pinyin
:[IPA pronunciation]
:alveolo-palatal consonants
:retroflex consonants


:GR differs from Pinyin
:[IPA pronunciation]


GR basic spellings are compared to the spelling conventions of Pinyin in the below. A , after the , compares spellings using all four tones.

Alveolar and retroflex series

The letter ''j'' and the s ''ch'' and ''sh'' represent two different series of sounds. When followed by ''i'' they correspond to the sounds ; otherwise they correspond to the sounds . In practice this feature creates no ambiguity, because the two series of consonants are in complementary distribution. Nevertheless it does make the correspondence between GR and Pinyin spellings difficult to follow. In some cases they agree ; but in other cases they differ—sometimes confusingly so .

This potential for confusion can be seen graphically in the , where the bold letters j, ch and sh cut across the highlighted division between alveolo-palatal and retroflex.

Other differences from Pinyin

GR also differs from Pinyin in its transcription of vowels and semivowels:
* GR uses ''iu'' for the close front rounded vowel spelt ''ü'' or in many cases simply ''u'' in Pinyin.
* Final ''-y'' represents allophones of ''i'' : GR ''shy'' and ''sy'' correspond to Pinyin ''shi'' and ''si'' respectively.
* No basic forms in GR begin with ''w-'' or ''y-'': Pinyin ''ying'' and ''wu'' are written ''ing'' and ''u'' in GR .

Other important GR spellings which differ from Pinyin include:
* GR writes ''au'' for Pinyin ''ao'' .
* ''el'' corresponds to Pinyin ''er'' . The most important use of ''-l'' is as a suffix.
* GR uses ''ts'' for Pinyin ''c'' and ''tz'' for Pinyin ''z''.
* ''-uen'' and ''-uei'' correspond to the contracted Pinyin forms ''-un'' and ''-ui''.
* GR also has three letters for dialectal sounds: ''v'' , ''ng'' , and ''gn'' .

As in Pinyin, an apostrophe is used to clarify syllable divisions. ''Pin'in'', the GR spelling of the word "Pinyin", is itself a good example: the apostrophe shows that the compound is made up of ''pin'' + ''in'' rather than ''pi'' + ''nin''.

Pinyin comparison: basic forms

The following list summarizes the differences between GR and Pinyin spelling. The list is in GR alphabetical order .

Tonal rules

:''Note:'' In this section the word "" is abbreviated as "T": thus T1 stands for Tone 1, or first tone, etc.

Wherever possible GR indicates tones 2, 3 and 4 by respelling the of the syllable, replacing a vowel with another having a similar sound . But this concise procedure cannot be applied in every case, since the syllable may not contain a suitable vowel for modification. In such cases a letter is added or inserted instead. The precise rule to be followed in any specific case is determined by the rules given below.

A colour-coded rule of thumb is given below for each tone: the same colours are used below in a . Each rule of thumb is then amplified by a comprehensive set of rules for that tone. These codes are used in the rules:

:* V = a vowel
:* NV = a non-vowel
:* ? = "but avoid forming "

Pinyin equivalents are given in brackets after each set of examples. To illustrate the GR tonal rules in practice, a comparing Pinyin and GR spellings of some Chinese provinces follows the detailed rules.

Tone 1: basic form
* Initial sonorants : insert ''-h-'' as second letter. ''rheng, mha''
* Otherwise use the .

Tone 2: i/u → y/w; or add -r
* Initial sonorants: use basic form. ''reng, ma''
* NV''i'' → NV''y'' . ''chyng, chyan, yng, yan, pyi''
* NV''u'' → NV''w'' . ''chwan, wang, hwo, chwu''
* Otherwise add ''r'' to vowel or diphthong. ''charng, bair''

Tone 3: i/u → e/o; or double vowel
* V''i'' or ''i''V → V''e'' or ''e''V . ''chean, bae, sheau'' , but not gee
* V''u'' or ''u''V → V''o'' or ''o''V . ''doan, dao, shoei'' , but not hoo
* Otherwise double the vowel. ''chiing, daa, geei, huoo, goou''
* Add initial ''y-/w-'' if necessary. ''yean, woo''

Tone 4: change/double final letter; or add -h
* V''i'' → V''y''. ''day, suey''
* V''u'' → V''w'' . ''daw, gow'' , but not chiw
* ''-n'' → ''-nn''. ''duann''
* ''-l'' → ''-ll''. ''ell''
* ''-ng'' → ''-nq''. ''binq''
* Otherwise add ''h''. ''dah, chiuh, dih''
* Add initial ''y-/w-'' if necessary. ''yaw, wuh''

Neutral tone

A dot may be placed before neutral tone syllables, which appear in their original tonal spelling: ''perng.yeou, dih.fang'' . used this device in the first eight chapters of the ''Mandarin Primer'', restricting it thereafter to new words on their first appearance. In ''A Grammar of Spoken Chinese'' he introduced a subscript circle to indicate an optional neutral tone, as in ''bujyodaw'', "don't know" .

GR ''u-'' and ''i-'' syllables
It is important to note that any GR syllables beginning ''u-'' or ''i-'' must be T1: in T2, T3 and T4 these syllables all begin with ''w-'' or ''y-'' respectively. An example in all four tones is the following: ''ing, yng, yiing, yinq'' .

Pinyin comparison: all tones

This table illustrates the GR in use by listing some Chinese provinces in both GR and Pinyin . The tonal spelling markers or "clues" are highlighted using the same as above. Note that T1 is the default tone: hence ''Shinjiang'' , for example, is spelt using the basic form of both syllables.

:GR tone key
:Tone 1 Tone 2 Tone 3 Tone 4


''Erhua'' , or the or retroflex ending, is indicated in GR by ''-el'' rather than ''-r'', which is already used as a . The appropriate is then applied to the rhotacized form: for example ''shell'' and ''ideal'' .

Most other romanization systems preserve the underlying form, but GR transcribes the surface form as pronounced. These are the main principles followed when a syllable is rhotacized in GR:
# final ''-y'' and ''-n'' are deleted.
# ''-el'' is added to final ''-i'' and ''-iu'', and replaces the finals lost by rule .
# ''-l'' is added to all other finals .
As a consequence the one-to-one correspondence between GR and Pinyin is broken, since one GR rhotacized form may correspond to several Pinyin forms. For example:
* ''jiel'' corresponds to both ''jīr'' and ''jīnr''.
* ''jial'' corresponds to both ''jiār'' and ''jiānr''.

Tone sandhi

The most important manifestation of tone sandhi in Mandarin is the change of a T3 syllable to T2 when followed by another T3 syllable . GR does not reflect this change in the spelling: the word for "fruit" is written ''shoeiguoo'', even though the pronunciation is closer to ''shweiguoo''. Four common words with more complicated tone sandhi are mentioned below under .


A number of frequently-occurring morphemes have abbreviated spellings in GR. The commonest of these, followed by their Pinyin equivalents, are:

:occurs in ''sherm'' , ''jemm/tzemm'' and ''tzeem''
:also in compounds such as ''jiowsh'' , ''dannsh'' , etc.


In its original form GR used the two "spare" letters of the alphabet, ''v'' and ''x'', to indicate reduplication. This mimicked the method by which the Chinese script indicates repeated with an iteration mark . In GR the letter ''x'' indicates that the preceding syllable is repeated , ''vx'' being used when the preceding ''two'' syllables are repeated .

This concise but completely unphonetic, and hence unintuitive, device appears in Chao's ''Mandarin Primer'' and all W. Simon's texts . Eventually, however, it was silently discarded even by its inventor: in Chao's ''Grammar'' as well as his ''Sayable Chinese'' all reduplicated syllables are written out in full in their GR transcription.


The following words and do not follow the rules of GR:
* The name ''Romatzyh'' follows international usage .
* The characters 一 , 七 , 八 , and 不 are always written ''i'', ''chi'', ''ba'', and ''bu'', respectively, regardless of the tone in which they are pronounced. In other words changes due to tone sandhi are not reflected in GR.

Simplified Wade

Simplified Wade is a modification of the Wade-Giles romanization system for writing Mandarin Chinese. It was devised by the Swedish Olov Bertil Anderson, who first published the system in 1970. Simplified Wade uses tonal spelling: in other words it modifies the letters in a syllable in order to indicate differences. It is one of only two Chinese romanization systems that indicate tones in such a way . All other systems utilize diacritics or numbers to indicate tone.

Spelling conventions

One of the important changes that Anderson made to Wade-Giles to was to replace the apostrophe following with an . This modification, previously used in the Legge romanization, was also adopted by Joseph Needham in his ''Science and Civilisation in China'' series. The table below illustrates the spelling difference.

The indication of tones in Simplified Wade is done by adding letters to the end of the syllable. The table below gives an example.

Romanization of Chinese in the Republic of China

Romanization systems used in the Republic of China includes the following natively developed systems, adopted officially by the national government: Gwoyeu Romatzyh , Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II , Tongyong Pinyin , and Hanyu Pinyin . Alongside these aforementioned nominally official systems, Wade-Giles has been used for decades in many contexts.

Generally speaking, street signs have been transcribed in one of the native systems; other proper names are written in Wade-Giles. However, since the introduction of Tongyong, place names — save for counties and the top-level municipalities — are now usually romanized using Tongyong. There are a few anomalies; for example, Taipei City uses Hanyu Pinyin.

The contention surrounding romanizations has never been purely academic or in response to the needs of the foreign community in Taiwan, but rather shrouded by politics. As a result, modern romanization of in Taiwan is by and large inconsistent and quite difficult for most overseas visitors, foreign-born residents and local Taiwanese to interpret.


Romanization is not normally taught in Taiwan's public schools at any level. Consequently, most Taiwanese do not know how to romanize their names or addresses. Teachers use only Zhuyin for teaching and annotating the pronunciation of Mandarin. There have been sporadic discussions about using a romanization system during early education to teach children Mandarin pronunciation . However, like all other aspects of romanization in Taiwan, this is a controversial issue. The plan in the early 2000s to adopt Pinyin was delayed due to disagreements over which form to use . The move is complicated by the massive effort needed to produce new instructional materials and retrain teachers.

Textbooks teaching other languages of Taiwan — namely, , , and Formosan languages — now also often include pronunciation in romanizations in addition to Zhuyin. Textbooks purely supplemented by romanization, without Zhuyin annotations, are very rare at the elementary-school level, since a sizeable minority of Taiwanese schoolchildren cannot easily read the English alphabet.

Government publications for teaching overseas Taiwanese children usually are completely bilingual, but only have Zhuyin in the main body of the texts and a comparison chart of Zhuyin and one or more Romanization systems. Those for teaching advanced learners have infrequent phonetic annotations for new phrases or characters. These annotations, usually in the footnotes, are romanized, in addition to having Zhuyin.

Like most Mandarin instructional materials released in North America, phrasebooks and textbooks targeting Mandarin students from overseas in Taiwan usually include only Hanyu Pinyin with tone marks .

Place names

The national government officially adopted Tongyong Pinyin in 2002 Taipei replaced its earlier signage, most of which had used a bastardized version of Wade-Giles influenced by the . Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second city, adopted Tongyong. Elsewhere in Taiwan, signs tend to be in a mixture of systems; with Tongyong Pinyin being increasingly common, but still many signs left over from the MPS II era. In 2008, the Ministry of Education announced it was switching from Tongyong Pinyin to Hanyu Pinyin as of January 1, 2009. On the other hand, the Jhongli Land Office has updated its title to Tongyong , but URL remains in MPS II. And the Jhongli Household Registration Office have a Wade-Giles URL but refers to itself in Tongyong .

Personal names

Most people in Taiwan have their names romanized using a variation of Wade-Giles. This simplified version employs no diacritics and, in semi- and unofficial contexts, usually incorrectly capitalized. The first letter in the second character of the given names should be, according to governmental and academic conventions, in the lower case, but in reality usually not. For example, ''Lu Hsiu-lien'' is sometimes written incorrectly as ''Lu Hsiu-Lien'', contrary to the set rules of Wade-Giles. The use of Wade-Giles is generally not out of personal preference but because this system has been used by most government offices' reference materials in Taiwan to date.

There are a few Taiwanese personalities whose names are transcribed in obscure or idiosyncratic schemes. For instance, using any major romanization, Lee Teng-hui's surname would have been ''Li''. Vincent Siew's surname and Ma Ying-jeou's given name are also peculiarly romanized. The single closest romanization to Chen Shui-bian's name would be Hanyu Pinyin, except that Hanyu never uses hyphens.


Public and private enterprises are not bound to any set of standards in their English names. The variations in this areas are therefore even greater and unpredictable. Some choose to transliterate their names, but other transcribe. The first parts of Chunghwa Telecom, the Central Bank of the Republic of China, and China Airlines are actually identical in Mandarin, i.e., ''Zhonghua'' , meaning " China".

Many business owners use an ad hoc approach, just so long as the end result is pronounceable and visually pleasant. The Hualon Group and Yulon Motor have opt for readability and lose a couple of letters .

As many conglomerates in Taiwan are owned by the , it is not uncommon to find companies that romanized their names in Hoklo. The Shin Kong, for example, is faithful to its Hoklo pronunciation but not Mandarin.

Like those on street signs, romanization on store signs and commercial products' labels are not yet systematized.

Other contexts

Chunghwa Post currently provide official support to address romanization in both Hanyu and Tongyong Pinyin. Prior to 2000, addresses were usually written in Wade-Giles or MPS II. Given the correct 5-digit zip code, the postal workers are usually able to deliver mail in any other romanization as well.

Most of the universities in Taiwan have names in Wade-Giles, such as , , and . A few with pre-Taiwanese existence were romanized using the , i.e., , , and . Few universities have names in other local languages, such as and .

Since elementary, middle, and senior high schools are under the jurisdiction of the local government, they follow whatever romanization the particular county or city uses at the time, which is now usually Tongyong Pinyin.

Romanization of Chinese

The romanization of Chinese is the use of the Latin alphabet to write Chinese. Chinese has been written in Chinese characters since about 1500 B.C. Chinese characters do not represent phonemes directly.

There are many uses for Chinese romanization systems. They serve as a useful tool for foreign learners of Chinese by indicating the pronunciation of unfamiliar characters. It can also be helpful for clarifying pronunciation—Mandarin pronunciation is an issue for some speakers of other mutually unintelligible Chinese languages who do not speak Mandarin fluently. Standard keyboards such as QWERTY are designed for the Latin alphabet, often making the difficult. Chinese dictionaries have complex sorting rules for characters, and romanization systems can simplify the problem by listing the characters by their Latin form alphabetically.

Well known systems are Hanyu Pinyin, Wade-Giles, and Yale Romanization. Hanyu Pinyin has since become the international standard since 1982.


The Indian Sanskrit grammarians who came to China two thousand years ago to work on the and the transcription of Buddhist terms into Chinese, discovered the "initial sound", "final sound", and "suprasegmental tone” structure of spoken Chinese syllables. This understanding is reflected in the precise Fanqie system, and it is the core principle of all modern systems. While the Fanqie system was ideal for indicating the conventional pronunciation of single, isolated characters in written Classical Chinese literature, it was unworkable for the pronunciation of essentially polysyllabic, colloquial spoken Chinese languages, such as Mandarin.

Aside from syllable structure, it is also necessary to indicate in Chinese romanization. Tones distinguish the definition of all morphemes in Chinese, and the definition of a word is often ambiguous in the absence of tones. Certain systems such as Wade-Giles indicate tone with a number following the syllable, i.e. ''ma1'', ''ma2'', ''ma3'', etc. Others, like Pinyin, indicate the tone with diacritics, such as ''mā'', ''má'', ''mǎ'', and the like. Still, the system of Gwoyeu Romatzyh bypasses the issue of introducing non-letter symbols by changing the letters within the syllable, as in ''mha, ma, maa, mah'', each of which contains the same vowel, but a different tone.



* Making the actual pronunciation conventions of spoken Chinese intelligible to non-Chinese-speaking students, especially those with no experience of a tonal language.
* Making the structure of a Chinese language intelligible to those only familiar with Latin grammar.
* Transcribing the citation pronunciation of specific s according to the pronunciation conventions of a specific European language, to allow the insertion of that Chinese pronunciation into a Western text.
* Allowing instant communication in "colloquial Chinese" between Chinese and non-Chinese speakers via a phrase-book.


* Identifying the specific pronunciation of a character within a specific context . Such a system has to work vertically down the page, right-to-left, and left-to-right.
* Reciting a Chinese text in Mandarin for some literate speakers of another mutually unintelligible Chinese language, such as Cantonese, who do not speak Mandarin fluently.
* Learning Classical or Modern Chinese by native Mandarin speakers.
* Use with a standard QWERTY keyboard.
* Replacing Chinese characters to bring functional literacy to illiterate native Mandarin speakers.
* Book indexing, dictionary entry sorting, and cataloguing in general.
* Teaching spoken and written Chinese to foreigners.

Non-Chinese systems

The Wade, Wade-Giles, and Postal systems still appear in the European literature, but generally only within a passage cited from an earlier work. European language texts now use the Chinese Hanyu Pinyin system as adopted by the People's Republic of China in 1979.

Missionary systems

Early Roman Catholic missionaries from Europe used Latin as their international language, and the Latinized names of some famous early Chinese thinkers are used today. For instance, "Confucius" can be analyzed into four parts, "con" , "fu" , "ci" , and "us" which was added to give the name the proper Latin form for the name of a male human. The "fuci" part of the name means "grand master," so the whole thing represents the appellation "Grand Master Kong." Similarly, the second most important Confucian is named "Mencius" in the English of today. It consists of "meng" , "ci" , and the male ending. So his Latin name means "Master Meng."

The first consistent system for transcribing Chinese words in Latin alphabet is thought to have been designed in 1583-88 by Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri for their Portuguese-Chinese dictionary - the first ever European-Chinese dictionary. Unfortunately, the manuscript was misplaced in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, and not re-discovered until 1934. The dictionary was finally published in 2001. During the winter of 1598, Ricci, with the help of his Jesuit colleague Lazzaro Cattaneo, compiled a Chinese-Portuguese dictionary as well, in which tones of the romanized Chinese syllables were indicated with diacritical marks. Even more unfortunately, this work has been lost as well and not rediscovered. revised and improved by Herbert Giles into the Wade-Giles system. Apart from the correction of a number of ambiguities and inconsistencies within the Wade system, the innovation of the Wade-Giles system was that it also indicated tones.

A major drawback of the Wade-Giles system was that it demanded the use of apostrophes, diacritical marks, and superscript digits , all of which, despite their crucial significance, were often omitted in texts; therefore, without matched character, the "Chinese" syllable delivered no meaning at all.

This system is still used today but was largely relegated to scholarly writing after the Nixon mission to China.

EFEO system

: ''Main article: EFEO Chinese transcription''

The system devised in 1902 by Séraphin Couvreur of the ?cole fran?aise d'Extrême-Orient was used in most of the French-speaking world to transliterate Chinese until the middle of the 20th century, after what it was gradually replaced by hanyu pinyin.

Postal System

The Chinese Postal Map Romanization, standardized in 1906, was based on French styles of romanization, and was exclusively used for place names.

Yale system

The Yale Romanization system was created at Yale University during World War II to facilitate communication between American military personnel and their Chinese counterparts. It uses a more regular spelling of Mandarin phonemes than other systems of its day.

This system was used for a long time, because it was used for phrase-book usage and part of the Yale system of teaching Chinese. The Yale system taught Mandarin using spoken, colloquial Chinese patterns. Contemporary systems taught Mandarin as if it were a written language that followed the rules of Latin grammar. The Yale system was for perhaps twenty years the most effective Mandarin teaching system. Furthermore, in the 1960s and 1970s, in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.A., the choices of learning simple or traditional characters and using either Hanyu Pinyin or Gwoyeu Romatzyh had political overtones of aligning with the Communist Party of China or the Kuomintang respectively. Many Overseas Chinese and Western academics took sides. The Yale textbooks, Yale teaching system, and Yale Romanization system were a neutral choice.

The Yale system has since been superseded by the Chinese Hanyu Pinyin system.

Chinese systems

Qieyin Xinzi

The first modern indigenous Chinese romanization system, the Qieyin Xinzi was developed in 1892 by Lu Zhuangzhang . It was used to write the sounds of the of the language.


and Wang Zhao and Lu Zhuangzhang were part of the Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation , which developed the rudimentary Jiyin Zimu system of Zhang Binglin into the Mandarin-specific phonetic system now known as or Bopomofo, which was eventually proclaimed on November 23, 1918.

The significant feature of Bopomofo is that it is composed entirely of "ruby characters" which can be written beside any Chinese text whether written vertically, right-to-left, or left-to-right. The characters within the Bopomofo system are unique phonetic characters, and are not part of the Latin alphabet. In this way, it is not technically a form of romanization, but because it is used for phonetic transcription the alphabet is often grouped with the romanization systems.

Gwoyeu Romatzyh

In 1923, the KMT's Ministry of Education instituted a National Language Unification Commission which, in turn, formed an eleven member romanization unit. The political circumstances of the time prevented any positive outcome from the formation of this unit.

A new voluntary working subcommittee was independently formed by a group of five scholars who strongly advocated romanization. The committee, which met twenty-two times over a twelve month period , consisted of , Lin Yutang, Qian Xuantong, Li Jinxi , and one Wang Yi. They developed the Gwoyeu Romatzyh system, proclaimed on September 26, 1928. The most distinctive aspect of this new system was that, rather than relying upon marks or numbers, it indicated the tonal variations of the "root syllable" by a systematic variation within the spelling of the syllable itself. The entire system could be written with a standard QWERTY keyboard.

…the call to abolish characters in favour of a romanized alphabet reached a peak around 1923. As almost all of the designers of were ardent supporters of this radical view, it is only natural that, aside from serving the immediate auxiliary role of sound annotation, etc., their scheme was designed in such a way that it would be capable of serving all functions expected of a bonafide writing system, and supersede characters in due course.

Despite the fact that it was created to eventually replace Chinese characters, and that it was constructed by linguists, Gwoyeu Romatzyh was never extensively used for any purpose other than delivering the pronunciation of specific Chinese characters in dictionaries. And, while the "within syllable" indication of the tone made sense to Western users, the complexity of its tonal system was such that it was never popular with Chinese users.

Latinxua Sinwenz

The work towards constructing the Latinxua Sinwenz system began in Moscow as early as 1928 when the Soviet Scientific Research Institute on China sought to create a means through which the large Chinese population living in the far eastern region of the U.S.S.R. could be made literate, facilitating their further education.

This was significantly different from all other romanization schemes in that, from the very outset, it was intended that the Latinxua Sinwenz system, once established, would supersede the Chinese characters. They decided to use the Latin alphabet because they thought that it would serve their purpose better than the Cyrillic alphabet. Unlike Gwoyeu Romatzyh, with its complex method of indicating tones, Latinxua Sinwenz system does not indicate tones at all, and it is not Mandarin-specific and so could be used for other Chinese languages and dialects.

The eminent Moscow-based Chinese scholar Qu Qiubai and the Russian linguist V.S. Kolokolov devised a prototype romanization system in 1929.

In 1931 a coordinated effort between the Soviet sinologists B.M. Alekseev, A.A. Dragunov and A.G. Shrprintsin, and the Moscow-based Chinese scholars Qu Qiubai, Wu Yuzhang, Lin Boqu , Xiao San, Wang Xiangbao, and Xu Teli established the Latinxua Sinwenz system. The system was supported by a number of Chinese intellectuals such as Guo Moruo and Lu Xun, and trials were conducted amongst 100,000 Chinese immigrant workers for about four years and later, in 1940–1942, in the communist-controlled Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region of China. In November 1949, the railways in China's north-east adopted the Latinxua Sinwenz system for all their telecommunications.

For a time, the system was very important in spreading literacy in Northern China; and more than 300 publications totalling half a million issues appeared in Latinxua Sinwenz. However:

In 1944 the latinization movement was officially curtailed in the communist-controlled areas on the pretext that there were insufficient trained cadres capable of teaching the system. It is more likely that, as the communists prepared to take power in a much wider territory, they had second thoughts about the rhetoric that surrounded the latinization movement; in order to obtain the maximum popular support, they withdrew support from a movement that deeply offended many supporters of the traditional writing system.

Hanyu Pinyin

In October 1949, the Association for Reforming the Chinese Written Language was established. Wu Yuzhang was appointed Chairman. All of the members of its initial governing body belonged to either the Latinxua Sinwenz movement or the Gwoyeu Romatzyh movement . For the most part, they were also highly trained linguists. Their first directive was to take "the phonetic project adopting the Latin alphabet" as "the main object of research".

In a speech delivered on January 10, 1958, Zhou Enlai observed that the Committee had spent three years attempting to create a non-Latin Chinese phonetic alphabet but "no satisfactory result could be obtained" and "the Latin alphabet was then adopted". He also emphatically stated:

In future, we shall adopt the Latin alphabet for the Chinese phonetic alphabet. Being in wide use in scientific and technological fields and in constant day-to-day usage, it will be easily remembered. The adoption of such an alphabet will, therefore, greatly facilitate the popularization of the common speech .

The development of the Hanyu Pinyin system was a complex process involving decisions on many difficult issues, such as:

* Should Hanyu Pinyin's pronunciation be based on that of Beijing?
* Was Hanyu Pinyin going to supersede Chinese written characters altogether, or would it simply provide a guide to pronunciation?
* Should the traditional Chinese writing system be simplified?
* Should Hanyu Pinyin use the Latin alphabet?
* Should Hanyu Pinyin indicate tones in all cases ?
* Should Hanyu Pinyin be Mandarin-specific, or adaptable to other dialects and other Chinese languages?
* Was Hanyu Pinyin to be created solely to facilitate the spread of Putonghua throughout China?

Despite the fact that the "Draft Scheme for a Chinese Phonetic Alphabet" published in "People's China" on March 16, 1956 contained certain unusual and peculiar characters, the Committee for Research into Language Reform soon reverted to the Latin Alphabet, citing the following reasons:

* The Latin alphabet is extensively used by scientists regardless of their native tongue, and technical terms are frequently written in Latin.
* The Latin alphabet is simple to write and easy to read. It has been used for centuries all over the world. It is easily adaptable to the task of recording Chinese pronunciation.
* While the use of the Cyrillic alphabet would strengthen ties with the U.S.S.R., the Latin alphabet is familiar to most Russian students, and its use would strengthen the ties between China and many of its Southeast Asian neighbours who are already familiar with the Latin alphabet.
* As a response to Mao Zedong's remark that "cultural patriotism" should be a "weighty factor" in the choice of an alphabet: despite the fact that the Latin alphabet is "foreign" it will serve as a strong tool for economic and industrial expansion; and, moreover, the fact that two of the most patriotic Chinese, Qu Qiubai and Lu Xun, were such strong advocates of the Latin alphabet indicates that the choice does not indicate any lack of patriotism.
* On the basis that the British, French, Germans, Spanish, Polish and Czechoslovakians have all modified the Latin alphabet for their own usage, and because the Latin alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet, which, in turn came from Phoenician and Egyptian, there is as much shame attached to using the Latin alphabet as there is in using Arabic numerals and the conventional mathematical symbols, regardless of their point of origin.

The movement for language reform came to a standstill during the Cultural Revolution and nothing was published on language reform or linguistics from 1966 to 1972. The Pinyin subtitles that had first appeared on the masthead of the People's Daily newspaper and the Hong Qi Journal in 1958 did not appear at all between July 1966 and January 1977.

In its final form Hanyu Pinyin:
* was used to indicate pronunciation only
* was exclusively based on the pronunciation of the Beijing dialect
* included tone marks
* embodied the traditional "initial sound", "final sound", and "suprasegmental tone” model
* was written in the Latin alphabet

Hanyu Pinyin has developed from Mao's 1951 directive, through the promulgation on November 1, 1957 of a draft version by the State Council, to its final form being approved by the State Council in September 1978, to being accepted in 1982 by the International Organization for Standardization as the standard for transcribing Chinese.

Other transcriptions

Chinese languages have been phonetically transcribed into many other writing systems. The Phagspa script, for example, has helped reconstruct the pronunciation of pre-modern forms of Chinese.

There is a single widespread system for cyrillization of Chinese, that is the .

Xiao'erjing is a system for transcribing Chinese using the Arabic alphabet.

The ongoing ''Science and Civilisation in China'' project uses another romanization scheme, similar to Wade-Giles. The most noticeable difference is that an "h" is inserted for aspiration . Thus Hanyu Pinyin ''tiān'' / Wade-Giles ''t'ien''1 is rendered ''thien''. See the SCC extract as an example of this scheme in use.

Pinyin tones

Pinyin Tones

The tones in Chinese Hanyu pinyin can change the way the word sounds with tone marks. For example, third tone placed over the O in Wǒ makes the translation me, i. but if the fourth tone is placed over the O, The word becomes Wò, which is a mark of scolding.

Where to place the tones

The tone in a word is placed over the final on which your mouth opens the greatest. For example, in the word Zhōng the tone is placed over the o because it comes before any of the other letters. The tone always goes over A; if no a is available then the tone is placed over the O, if no O, Over E, if no e placed over I, if no I placed over U if no U is placed over ü. The only exception to this rule is when the final I is followed by U, then the tone is placed over U.

Pinyin table

This pinyin table is a complete listing of all Hanyu Pinyin syllables used in Standard Mandarin. Each syllable in a cell is composed of an and a . An empty cell indicates that the corresponding syllable does not exist in Standard Mandarin.

The below table indicates possible combinations of and in Standard Mandarin, but does not indicate , which are equally important to the proper pronunciation of Chinese. Although some initial-final combinations have some syllables using each of the 5 different tones, most do not. Some utilize only one tone.

Pinyin entries in this page can be compared to syllables using the Zhuyin phonetic system in the Zhuyin table page.

NOTE: many syllables are not pronounced similarly to the English conventions. For a more thorough explanation, please refer to the main Pinyin article.

are grouped into subsets ''a'', ''i'', ''u'' and ''ü''.

''i'', ''u'' and ''ü'' groupings indicate a combination of those finals with finals from Group ''a''. For example:
*Group ''i'': ''i''+''ao''=''iao'', ''i''+''ê''=''ie'', ''i''+''ou''=''iu''
*Group ''u'': ''u''+''ai''=''ui'', ''u''+''ing''=''ong''
*Group ''ü'': ''ü''+''ê''=''ue'', ''ü''+''ing''=''iong''

Most syllables are a combination of an initial and a final. However, some syllables have no initials. This is shown in Pinyin as follows:
*if the final begins with an ''i'', it is replaced with a ''y''
*if the final begins with an ''u'', it is replaced with a ''w''
*if the final begins with an ''ü'', it is replaced with ''yu''
*exceptions to the rules above are indicated by yellow in the table's ''no initial'' column:

Note that the ''y'', ''w'', and ''yu'' replacements above do not change the pronunciation of the final in the final-only syllable. They are used to avoid ambiguity when writing words in pinyin. For example, instead of:
*"uen" and "ian" forming "uenian", which could be interpreted as:
**"uen-i-an" or
*the syllables are written "wen" and "yan" which results in the more distinct "wenyan"

There are discrepancies between the bopomofo tables and the pinyin table due to the few standardization differences of a few slight characters between the mainland standard ''putonghua'' and the Taiwanese standard ''guoyu''. For example, the variant sounds 挼, 扽, 忒 are not used in ''guoyu''. Likewise the variant sound 孿 is not recognized in ''putonghua'', or it is folded into .

::Colour Legend:

::Modified i, u, and ü group finals:
::The following finals in the i, u, and ü groups are a modified combination of i, u or ü with a group a final:

er contraction

A few additional syllables are formed in pinyin by combining an initial-final combination from the table above with an additional er-final. Rather than two distinct syllables, the last "er" is contracted with the first combination, and therefore represented as one syllable .


Pinyin, more formally Hanyu pinyin, is the most common Standard Mandarin romanization system in use. ''Hanyu'' means the Chinese language, and ''pinyin'' means "spell sound", or the spelling of the sound.. The International Organization for Standardization adopted pinyin as the international standard in 1979, and since then it has been adopted by many organizations worldwide. It will also be the official romanization system in the Republic of China starting in 2009 . It is used to teach Chinese schoolchildren and foreign learners the standard pronunciation of , to spell Chinese names in foreign publications and to enter Chinese characters on computers.


In 1954, the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language. This committee developed ''Hanyu pinyin'' based upon existing systems of that time ''''. The main force behind pinyin was Zhou Youguang. Zhou was working in a New York bank when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the war. He became an economics professor in Shanghai. The government assigned him to help the development of a new romanization system. The switch to language and writing largely saved him from the wrath of the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong.

A first draft was published on February 12, 1956. The first edition of ''Hanyu pinyin'' was approved and adopted at the Fifth Session of the 1st National People's Congress on February 11, 1958. It was then introduced to primary schools as a way to teach Standard Mandarin pronunciation and used to improve the literacy rate among adults. In 2001, the Chinese Government issued the ''National Common Language Law'', providing a legal basis for applying pinyin.


Pinyin superseded older romanization systems such as Wade-Giles and Chinese Postal Map Romanization, and replaced zhuyin as the method of Chinese phonetic instruction in mainland China. The International Organization for Standardization adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for modern Chinese in 1982 . The United Nations adopted it as an official and standardized Mandarin romanization system in 1986. It has also been accepted by the government of Singapore, the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, and many other international institutions.

The spelling of Chinese geographical or personal names in pinyin has become a standard or most common way to transcribe them in English. It has also become a useful tool for .

Chinese speaking Standard Mandarin at home use pinyin to help children associate characters with spoken words which they already know; however, for the many Chinese who do not use Standard Mandarin at home, pinyin is used to teach them the Standard Mandarin pronunciation of words when they learn them in elementary school.

Pinyin has become a tool for many foreigners to learn the Mandarin pronunciation, it is used to explain the grammar and spoken Mandarin together with . Like zhuyin, it is used as a phonetic guide in books for children but also dialect speakers and foreign learners. Books containing both Chinese characters and pinyin are popular with foreign learners of Chinese, pinyin's role in teaching pronunciation to foreigners and children is similar to furigana-based books in or fully texts in but as mentioned above, pinyin is also the main romanisation method.


The correspondence between letter and sound does not follow any single other language, but does not depart any more from the norms of the Latin alphabet than many European languages. For example, the aspiration distinction between ''b, d, g'' and ''p, t, k'' is similar to that of English, but not to that of French. ''Z'' and ''c'' also have that distinction; however, they are pronounced as , as in languages such as German, Italian, and Polish, which do not have that distinction. From ''s, z, c'' come the digraphs ''sh, zh, ch'' by analogy with English ''sh, ch;'' although this introduces the novel combination ''zh,'' it is internally consistent in how the two series are related, and represents the fact that many Chinese pronounce ''sh, zh, ch'' as ''s, z, c.'' In the ''x, j, q'' series, ''x'' rather resembles its pronunciation in Catalan, though ''q'' is more novel and its pronunciation is similar to the ''ch'' in ''China''. Pinyin vowels are pronounced similarly to vowels in Romance languages. More information on the pronunciation of all pinyin letters in terms of English approximations is given further below.

The pronunciation of Chinese is generally given in terms of and , which represent the ''segmental phonemic'' portion of the language. Initials are initial consonants, while finals are all possible combinations of , the vowel, and .

Initials and Finals

Unlike in European languages, initials and finals - and not consonants and vowels - are the fundamental elements in pinyin . Nearly each Chinese syllable can be spelled with exactly one initial followed by one final, except in the special syllable 'er' and when a trailing 'r' is considered part of a syllable . The latter case, though a common practice in some sub-dialects, is rarely used in official publications.

Even though most initials contain a consonant, finals are not simple vowels, especially in compound finals , i.e., when one "final" is placed in front of another one. For example, and are pronounced with such tight openings that some native Chinese speakers pronounce yī as , wéi as or . The concepts of consonants and vowels are not incorporated in pinyin or its predecessors, despite the fact that the Roman alphabets are used in pinyin. In the entire pinyin system, there is not a list of consonants, nor a list of vowels.


In each cell below, the first line indicates the , the second indicates pinyin.

1 may phonetically be . This pronunciation varies among different speakers, and is not two different phonemes.

2 the letter "w" may be considered as an initial or a final, and may be pronounced as or

3 the letter "y" may be considered as an initial or a final, and may be pronounced as or

Note: Letters "y" and "w" are not included in table of initials in the official pinyin system. They are used as spelling aids in place of "i", "u" and "ü" when there are no other initials, and carry the pronunciations of the corresponding finals. Consonants and are not officially used for these letters; they are absent from standard Chinese.

Conventional order , derived from the zhuyin system, is:


In each cell below, the first line indicates IPA, the second indicates pinyin for a standalone form, and the third indicates pinyin for a combination with an initial. Other than finals modified by an -r, which are omitted, the following is an exhaustive table of all possible finals. 1

The only syllable-final consonants in standard Mandarin are -n and -ng, and -r which is attached as a grammatical suffix. Chinese syllables ending with any other consonant is either from a non-Mandarin language , or it indicates the use of a non-pinyin Romanization system .

1 /?r/ is written as ''er''. For other finals formed by the suffix -r, pinyin does not use special orthography; one simply appends -r to the final that it is added to, without regard for any sound changes that may take place along the way. For information on sound changes related to final -r, please see Standard Mandarin.

2 "ü" is written as "u" after j, q, x, or y.

3 "uo" is written as "o" after b, p, m, or f.

4 It is pronounced when it follows an initial, and pinyin reflects this difference.

In addition, ''ê'' is used to represent certain interjections.

Rules given in terms of English pronunciation

All rules given here in terms of English pronunciation are approximate, as several of these sounds do not correspond directly to sounds in English.

Pronunciation of initials

Pronunciation of finals

The following is an exhaustive list of all finals in Standard Mandarin. Those ending with a final -r are listed at the end.

To find a given final:
#Remove the initial consonant. For zh-, ch-, sh-, both letters should be removed, they are single consonants spelt with two letters.
#Although y- and w- are consonants nevertheless they may be considered as part of finals and do not remove those.
##Syllables beginning with y- and w- may be considered as standalone forms of finals "i, u, ü" and finals beginning with "i-, u-, ü-".
#If a syllable begins with j-, q-, x-, or y-, and the final is -u or starts with -u-, then change -u or -u- to -ü or -ü-.



Pinyin differs from other romanizations in several aspects, such as the following:

* Syllables starting with ''u'' are written as ''w'' in place of ''u'' . Standalone ''u'' is written as ''wu''.
* Syllables starting with ''i'' are written as ''y'' in place of ''i'' . Standalone ''i'' is written as ''yi''.
* Syllables starting with ''ü'' are written as ''yu'' in place of ''ü'' .
* ''ü'' is written as ''u'' when there is no ambiguity , but written as ''ü'' when there are corresponding ''u'' syllables . In such situations where there are corresponding ''u'' syllables, it is often replaced with ''v'' on a computer, making it easier to type on a standard keyboard.
* When preceded by a consonant, ''iou'', ''uei'', and ''uen'' are simplified as ''iu'', ''ui'', and ''un'' .
* As in zhuyin, what are actually pronounced as ''buo'', ''puo'', ''muo'', and ''fuo'' are given a separate representation: ''bo'', ''po'', ''mo'', and ''fo''.
* The apostrophe is often used before ''a'', ''o'', and ''e'' to separate syllables in a word where ambiguity could arise, especially when omitting tone marks, e.g., ''pi'ao'' , despite a conscious effort to distribute letters more evenly than in Western languages.

Most of the above are used to avoid ambiguity when writing words of more than one syllable in pinyin. For example uenian is written as ''wenyan'' because it is not clear which syllables make up ''uenian''; ''uen-ian'', ''uen-i-an'' and ''u-en-i-an'' are all possible combinations whereas ''wenyan'' is unambiguous because ''we'', ''nya'', etc. do not exist in pinyin. See the pinyin table article for a summary of possible pinyin syllables .

Capitalization and word formation

Although Chinese characters represent single syllables, Mandarin Chinese is a polysyllabic language. Spacing in pinyin is based on whole words, not single syllables. However, there are often ambiguities in partitioning a word. Orthographic rules were put into effect in 1988 by the National Educational Commission '' and the National Language Commission .''

##Single meaning: Words with a single meaning, which are usually set up of two characters , are written together and not capitalized: rén ; péngyou , qiǎokèlì
##Combined meaning : Same goes for words combined of two words to one meaning: hǎifēng ; wèndá , quánguó
##Combined meaning : Words with four or more characters having one meaning are split up with their original meaning if possible: wúfèng gāngguǎn ; huánjìng bǎohù guīhuà
#Duplicated words
##AA: Duplicated characters are written together: rénrén , kànkàn , niánnián
##ABAB: two characters duplicated are written separated: yánjiū yánjiū , xuěbái xuěbái
##AABB: A hyphen is used with the schema AABB: láilái-wǎngwǎng , qiānqiān-wànwàn
#Nouns and names : Nouns are written in one: zhuōzi , mùtou
##Even if accompanied by a prefix and suffix: fùbùzhǎng , chéngwùyuán , háizimen
##Words of position are separated: mén wài , hé li , huǒchē shàngmian , Huáng Hé yǐnán
###Exceptions are words traditionally connected: tiānshang , dìxia , kōngzhōng , hǎiwài
##Surnames are separated from the given name: Lǐ Huá, Zhāng Sān. If the given name consists of two syllables, it should be written as one: Wáng Jiàngguó.
##Titles following the name are separated and are not capitalized: Wáng bùzhǎng , Lǐ xiānsheng , Tián zhǔrèn , Zhào tóngzhì .
##The forms of addressing people with ''Lǎo'', ''Xiǎo'', ''Dà'' and ''A'' are capitalized: Xiǎo Liú , Dà Lǐ , A Sān , Lǎo Qián , Lǎo Wú
###Exceptions are: Kǒngzǐ , Bāogōng , Xīshī , Mèngchángjūn
##Geographical names of China: Běijīng Shì , Héběi Shěng , Yālù Jiāng , Tài Shān , Dòngtíng Hú , Táiwān Hǎixiá
##Non-Chinese names translated back from Chinese will be written by their original writing: Marx, Einstein, London, Tokyo
#Verbs : Verbs and their suffixes are written as one: kànzhe/kànle/kànguo , jìngxíngzhe . ''Le'' as it appears in the end of a sentence is separated though: Huǒchē dào le .
##Verbs and their objects are separated: kàn xìn , chī yú , kāi wánxiào .
##If verbs and their complements are each monosyllabic, they are written together, if not, separated: gǎohuài , dǎsǐ , huàwéi , zhěnglǐ hǎo , gǎixiě wéi
#Adjectives : A monosyllabic adjective and its reduplication are written as one: mēngmēngliàng , liàngtāngtāng
##Complements of size or degree are written separated: dà xiē , kuài yīdiānr
##The plural suffix ''-men'' directly follows up: wǒmen , tāmen
##The demonstrative pronoun zhè , nà and the question pronoun nǎ are separated: zhè rén , nà cì huìyì , nǎ zhāng bàozhǐ
###Exceptions are: nàli , zhèbian , zhège , zhème , zhèmeyàng ... and similar ones.
#Numerals and measure words
##Words like ''gè''/''měi'' , ''mǒu'' , ''běn'' , ''gāi'' , ''wǒ'' , are separated from the measure words following them: gè guó , gè gè , měi nián , mǒu gōngchǎng , wǒ xiào .


The pinyin system also uses diacritics for the four , usually above a non-medial vowel. Many books printed in China mix fonts, with vowels and tone marks rendered in a different font than the surrounding text, tending to give such pinyin texts a typographically ungainly appearance. This style, most likely rooted in early technical limitations, has led many to believe that pinyin's rules call for this practice and also for the use of a Latin alpha rather than the standard style of the letter found in most fonts. The official rules of ''Hanyu Pinyin,'' however, specify no such practice. Note that tone marks can also appear on consonants in certain vowelless exclamations.

# The first tone is represented by a macron added to the pinyin vowel:

# The second tone is denoted by an acute accent :

# The third tone is marked by a caron/há?ek . It is not the rounded breve , though a breve is sometimes substituted due to font limitations.

# The fourth tone is represented by a grave accent :

# The fifth or neutral tone is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark:


These tone marks normally are only used in Mandarin textbooks or in foreign learning texts, but they are essential for correct pronunciation of Mandarin syllables, as exemplified by the following classic example of five characters whose pronunciations differ only in their tones:

The words are "mother", "hemp", "horse", "scold" and a question particle, respectively.

Numerals in place of tone marks

Since before the advent of computers, many fonts did not contain vowels with macron or caron diacritics, a common convention for tone is to add a tone number at the end of individual syllables. For example, ''tóng'' is written ''tong2.''
The number used for each tone is as the order listed above (except the neutral tone, which is either not numbered or numbered zero, as in ''ma0'' 吗/嗎 .

Rules for placing the tone mark

The rules for determining on which vowel the tone mark appears when there are multiple vowels are as follows:

# First, look for an "a" or an "e". If either vowel appears, it takes the tone mark. There are no possible pinyin syllables that contain both an "a" and an "e".
# If there is no "a" or "e", look for an "ou". If "ou" appears, then the "o" takes the tone mark.
# If none of the above cases hold, then the last vowel in the syllable takes the tone mark.

The reasoning behind these rules is in the case of diphthongs and triphthongs, ''i'', ''u'', and ''ü'' are considered glides rather than part of the syllable nucleus in Chinese phonology. The rules ensure that the tone mark always appears on the nucleus of a syllable.

The character "ü"

An is placed over the letter ''u'' when it occurs after the initials ''l'' and ''n'' in order to represent the sound . This is necessary in order to distinguish the front high rounded vowel in ''lü'' from the back high rounded vowel in ''lu'' . Tonal markers are added on top of the umlaut, as in ''lǘ''.

However, the ''ü'' is ''not'' used in other contexts where it represents a front high rounded vowel, namely after the letters ''j'', ''q'', ''x'' and ''y''. For example, the sound of the word 鱼/魚 is transcribed in pinyin simply as ''yú'', not as ''yǘ''. This practice is opposed to Wade-Giles, which always uses ''ü'', and ''Tongyong pinyin,'' which always uses ''yu''. Whereas Wade-Giles needs to use the umlaut to distinguish between ''chü'' and ''chu'' , this ambiguity cannot arise with pinyin, so the more convenient form ''ju'' is used instead of ''jü''. Genuine ambiguities only happen with ''nu''/''nü'' and ''lu''/''lü'', which are then distinguished by an umlaut diacritic.

Many fonts or output methods do not support an umlaut for ''ü'' or cannot place tone marks on top of ''ü''. Likewise, using ''ü'' in input methods is difficult because it is not present as a simple key on many keyboard layouts. For these reasons ''v'' is sometimes used instead by convention. Occasionally, ''uu'' , ''u:'' or ''U'' is used in its place.

Comparison chart

Pinyin in Taiwan

Taiwan adopted ''Tongyong pinyin,'' a modification of ''Hanyu pinyin,'' on the national level in October 2002. This has resulted in political controversy, much of it centered on issues of national identity, with proponents of Chinese reunification favoring ''Hanyu pinyin,'' used in the People's Republic of China, and proponents of Taiwanese independence favoring the use of ''Tongyong pinyin.''

Localities with governments controlled by the Kuomintang, most notably Taipei City, have overridden the 2002 administrative order and converted to ''Hanyu pinyin,'' though with a slightly different capitalization convention than the Mainland. As a result, the use of romanization on signage in Taiwan is inconsistent, with many places using ''Tongyong pinyin'' but some using ''Hanyu pinyin,'' and still others not yet having had the resources to replace older Wade-Giles or MPS2 signage. This has resulted in the odd situation in Taipei in which inconsistent romanizations are shown in freeway directions, with freeway signs, under the control of the national government, using one system, but surface street signs, under the control of the city government, using the other.

Primary education in Taiwan continues to teach pronunciation using ''zhuyin'' annotation. Although the ROC government has stated the desire to use romanization rather than ''zhuyin'' in education, the lack of agreement on which form of pinyin to use and the huge logistical challenge of teacher training has stalled these efforts.

In 2008, the government announced plans to convert to ''Hanyu pinyin'' as the official romanization for Taiwan, effective January 1, 2009.

Other languages

Pinyin-like systems have been devised for other variants of Chinese. Guangdong Romanization is a set of romanizations devised by the government of Guangdong province for , , , and . All of these are designed to use Latin letters in a similar way to pinyin.

In addition, in accordance to the ''Regulation of Phonetic Transcription in Hanyu Pinyin Letters of Place Names in Minority Nationality Languages'' promulgated in 1976, place names in non-Chinese languages like , , and are also officially transcribed using pinyin. The pinyin letters are used to approximate the non-Chinese language in question as closely as possible. This results in spellings that are different from both the customary spelling of the place name, and the pinyin spelling of the name in Chinese:

:''See also: Tibetan pinyin

Comparison with other orthographies

Pinyin is now used by foreign students learning Chinese as a second language.

Pinyin assigns some values which are quite different from that of most languages.

Pinyin is purely a representation of the sounds of Mandarin, therefore it lacks the semantic cues that Chinese characters can provide. It is also unsuitable for transcribing some Chinese spoken languages other than Mandarin.

Simple computer systems, able only to display only 7-bit ASCII text , long provided the most convincing argument in favor of pinyin over hanzi. Today, however, most computer systems are able to display characters from Chinese and many other writing systems as well, and have them entered with a Latin keyboard using an input method editor. Alternatively, some , and digitizing tablets allow users to input characters directly by writing with a stylus.

Entering toned pinyin on a computer

Mac OS X

Activate the "US Extended" keyboard and then do:
* Option-a and then to create the first tones: ā, ē, ī, ō, ū
* Option-e and then to create the second tones: á, é, í, ó, ú
* Option-v and then to create the third tone: ǎ, ě, ǐ, ǒ, ǔ
* Option-` and then to create the fourth tone: à, è, ì, ò, ù
* u and then Shift-Option-u and then Shift-Option- gives ǖ, ǘ, ǚ or ǜ.
* v may be entered as a to produce a ü. For instance, Option-e v produces ǘ. Option-u u produces a ü without tone marks.


Many Chinese allow a pinyin toggle in addition to the simplified–traditional character toggle. The user can then type using pinyin with tone marks using the alphanumeric keys on a standard keyboard; the popular is one such example. is a Windows-based IME that allows you to type toned pinyin with ease. Because it works at the system level, it will allow you to type pinyin with tones in any Windows program just as easily as you would type Chinese . Activate the IME then start typing pinyin. Type a number from 1-4 after a pinyin syllable, and the corresponding tone will automatically be placed on the correct vowel of that syllable.

Pinyin courses



*: Chinese Input Method Editor
*: Translates simplified or traditional Chinese to pinyin and English.
*: Adds inline or pop-up pinyin annotations for snippets of Traditional or Simplified Chinese text or web sites.
* Displays pinyin below any simplified Chinese text. Offers choice of annotating all characters or only less common characters, depending on skill level.
* Displays pinyin above any Chinese text or next to individual words . Mouse over any word to see English translation. Save output to format. Prints nicely. Also adds pinyin to any Chinese web page.
* Converts pinyin with tone numbers into pinyin with tone marks above the ''correct'' vowels. Doesn't require page re-loads.
*: Displays pinyin with tone marks for traditional or simplified Chinese text. Pinyin is displayed after each Chinese word.
* Supports Simplified and Traditional Chinese; target pinyin systems include ''Hanyu pinyin, Tongyong pinyin,'' Wade-Giles, MPS2, Yale, and ''Gwoyeu Romatzyh;'' supports multiple pronunciations of a single character; supports customized output, such as ü or tone marks.
* An IME that outputs pinyin with tone marks and greatly simplifies the process of entering pinyin with tone marks on Windows.


* - Useful resource for identifying Chinese characters