Saturday, October 4, 2008

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 Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the system has gradually been replaced by Pinyin, which is now almost universally accepted.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.,

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