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The Yale romanization of Mandarin is a system for transcribing the sounds of Standard Chinese, based on Mandarin Chinese varieties spoken in and around Beijing.It was devised in 1943 by the Yale sinologist George Kennedy for a course teaching Chinese to American soldiers, and popularized by continued development of that course at Yale. The system approximated Chinese sounds using English spelling conventions in order to accelerate acquisition of pronunciation by English speakers.
The Yale romanization was widely used in Western textbooks until the late 1970s; in fact, during the height of the Cold War, the use of the pinyin system over Yale romanization outside of China was regarded as a political statement or identification with the communist Chinese regime.The situation was reversed once the relations between the People's Republic of China and the West had improved. Communist China (PRC) became a member of the United Nations in 1971 by replacing Nationalist China (ROC). By 1979, much of the world adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for Chinese geographical names. In 1982, pinyin became an ISO standard; interest in Yale Mandarin declined rapidly thereafter.
The tables below show the Yale Mandarin representation of each Chinese sound (in bold type), together with the corresponding IPA phonetic symbol (in square brackets), and equivalent representations in Zhùyīn Fúhào (bopomofo) and Hanyu Pinyin.
In Mandarin, stop and affricate consonants are all voiceless, but show a contrast between an aspirated and unaspirated series. A much-criticized feature of the Wade–Giles system was its use of an apostrophe to indicate aspiration, as in the syllable t'a contrasting with the unaspirated ta. The corresponding Yale spellings, ta and da respectively, suggest an approximation of the aspiration distinction to speakers of English, in which (unlike, say, Romance languages) voiceless consonants like t are pronounced with distinct aspiration when they occur at the start of a word, but voiced ones like d are pronounced unaspirated and with weakened voicing in that position.Similar conventions were used in the earlier Gwoyeu Romatzyh system and the later pinyin system.
The Yale system, like Wade-Giles and Gwoyeu Romatzyh, represents palatal consonants using letters for similar sounds with which they are in complementary distribution.This is more intuitive for English speakers than the pinyin usage of the letters q and x wherein they no longer carry their expected values. For example, 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 English she; in Yale it is written as syi.
|Nasal|| m [m] |
| n [n] |
|Plosive||Unaspirated|| b [p] |
| d [t] |
| g [k] |
|Aspirated|| p [pʰ] |
| t [tʰ] |
| k [kʰ] |
|Affricate||Unaspirated|| dz [ts] |
| j [ʈʂ] |
| j [tɕ] |
|Aspirated|| ts [tsʰ] |
| ch [ʈʂʰ] |
| ch [tɕʰ] |
|Fricative|| f [f] |
| s [s] |
| sh [ʂ] |
| sy [ɕ] |
| h [x] |
|Liquid|| l [l] |
| r [ɻ~ʐ] |
Syllables with syllabic fricatives are spelled jr (ㄓ zhi), chr (ㄔ chi), shr (ㄕ shi), r (ㄖ ri), dz (ㄗ zi), tsz (ㄘ ci), sz (ㄙ si), suggesting approximate pronunciations to English speakers. In pinyin, these are all spelled -i. For example, "knowledge" (知識) is spelled chih-shih in Wade–Giles and zhishi in pinyin, but in Yale romanization it is written jr-shr—only the last will elicit a near-correct pronunciation from an unprepared English speaker.
Tone was marked using diacritics whose shape suggested the corresponding pitch contour: ā (high level), á (rising), ǎ (falling-rising) and à (falling).The same method was adopted by pinyin.
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of breath that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. In English, aspirated consonants are allophones in complementary distribution with their unaspirated counterparts, but in some other languages, notably most Indian and East Asian languages, the difference is contrastive.
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Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.
Wade–Giles is a romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th century, and was given completed form with Herbert A. Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892.
Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II, abbreviated MPS II, is a romanization system formerly used in the Republic of China (Taiwan). It was created to replace the complex tonal-spelling Gwoyeu Romatzyh, and to co-exist with the popular Wade–Giles (romanization) and Zhuyin (non-romanization). It is sometimes referred to as Gwoyeu Romatzyh 2 or GR2.
Tongyong Pinyin was the official romanization of Mandarin in Taiwan between 2002 and 2008. The system was unofficially used between 2000 and 2002, when a new romanization system for Taiwan was being evaluated for adoption. Taiwan's Ministry of Education approved the system in 2002, but its use was optional. Since January 1, 2009, the Ministry of Education has officially promoted Hanyu Pinyin ; local governments would "not be able to get financial aid from the central government" if they used Tongyong Pinyin-derived romanizations. After this policy change, Tongyong Pinyin has been used for the transliteration of some place names and personal names in Taiwan. Some of the romanized names of the districts, subway stations and streets in Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, Yunlin County and other places are derived from Tongyong Pinyin- for example, Cijin District.
Gwoyeu Romatzyh, abbreviated GR, is a system for writing Mandarin Chinese in the Latin alphabet. The system was conceived by Yuen Ren Chao and developed by a group of linguists including Chao and Lin Yutang from 1925 to 1926. Chao himself later published influential works in linguistics using GR. In addition a small number of other textbooks and dictionaries in GR were published in Hong Kong and overseas from 1942 to 2000.
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Taiwanese Mandarin, or Guoyu, is a variety of Mandarin Chinese and a national language of Taiwan. The core of its standard form is described in the dictionary Guoyu Cidian (國語辭典) maintained by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan. It is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect together with the grammar of vernacular Chinese.
Tone numbers are numerical digits used like letters to mark the tones of a language. The number is usually placed after a romanized syllable. Tone numbers are defined for a particular language, so they have little meaning between languages.
Romanization of Chinese is the use of the Latin alphabet to write Chinese. Chinese uses a logographic script and its characters do not represent phonemes directly. There have been many systems using Roman characters to represent Chinese throughout history. Linguist Daniel Kane recalls, "It used to be said that sinologists had to be like musicians, who might compose in one key and readily transcribe into other keys." The dominant international standard for Putonghua since about 1982 has been Hanyu Pinyin. Other well-known systems include Wade–Giles (Mandarin) and Yale Romanization.
There are many romanization systems used in Taiwan. The first Chinese language romanization system in Taiwan, Pe̍h-ōe-jī, was developed for Taiwanese by Presbyterian missionaries and promoted by the indigenous Presbyterian Churches since the 19th century. Pe̍h-ōe-jī is also the first written system of Taiwanese Hokkien; a similar system for Hakka was also developed at that time. During the period of Japanese rule, the promotion of roman writing systems was suppressed under the Dōka and Kōminka policy. After World War II, Taiwan was handed over from Japan to China in 1945. The romanization of Mandarin Chinese was also introduced to Taiwan as official or semi-official standard.
The spelling of Gwoyeu Romatzyh (GR) can be divided into its treatment of initials, finals and tones. GR uses contrasting unvoiced/voiced pairs of consonants to represent aspirated and unaspirated initials in Chinese: for example b and p represent IPA [p] and [pʰ]. The letters j, ch and sh represent two different series of initials: the alveolo-palatal and the retroflex 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.
Simplified Wade, abbreviated SW, is a modification of the Wade–Giles romanization system for writing Standard Mandarin Chinese. It was devised by the Swedish linguist Olov Bertil Anderson (1920–1993), who first published the system in 1969. Simplified Wade uses tonal spelling: in other words it modifies the letters in a syllable in order to indicate tone differences. It is one of only two Mandarin romanization systems that indicate tones in such a way. All other systems use diacritics or numbers to indicate tone.
Bopomofo or Mandarin Phonetic Symbols, also named Zhuyin, is a major Chinese transliteration system for Mandarin Chinese and other related languages and dialects which is nowadays most commonly used in Taiwanese Mandarin. It is also used to transcribe other varieties of Chinese, particularly other varieties of Mandarin Chinese dialects, as well as Taiwanese Hokkien. Consisting of 37 characters and four tone marks, it transcribes all possible sounds in Mandarin. Bopomofo was introduced in China by the Republican Government in the 1910s and used alongside the Wade–Giles system, which used a modified Latin alphabet. Bopomofo is an official transliteration system in Taiwan, being widely used as the main electronic input method for Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan (ROC) and used in dictionaries and other documents.
The different varieties of Chinese have been transcribed into many other writing systems.
This article summarizes the phonology of Standard Chinese.
In the Cold War era, the use of this system outside China was typically regarded as a political statement, or a deliberate identification with the Chinese communist regime. (p390)