Pinyin, why?

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Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:53 pm

Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by Helmut »

floreo wrote
> Well, I will begin with your original issue " PinYin" alphabetic
> system for chinese pronunciation. It's quite odd, tho we chinese use
> Letras Romanas( roman letters) we don't acutally pronouse them like
> they should be in latin language.

Well, nobody today pronounces roman letters strictly as they have been pronounced in Latin. Not even the Italians, not the Spanish, and surely not the English or French. Every people has its own interpretation of roman letters. After all, the roman alphabet was made for Latin. Everyone else using it is forced to make some adaptations to reflect the different sounds. So it is by no means odd to have a Chinese Hanyu Pinyin interpretation of roman letters. And honestly, I think Hanyu Pinyin is just as close to a "correct pronunciation" of roman letters as any modern European language.

> The reason is because after the liberation of China, yet under the
> influences of those very radical linguists, originally this kind of
> influence came from Sovient Union as they use roman letters, we
> chinese thought we should have ourselves more close to the system
> which seemed in everyway better than our own's, including the
> language system.

Russia (then the Soviet Union) uses a cyrillic alphabet, not roman letters. The cyrillic alphabet would have been at least as suitable for Mandarin as the roman alphabet. The choice to use the roman alphabet for Hanyu Pinyin seems to me more a sign of independence from the Soviet Union.

Polack wrote
> Hanyu Pinyin was created when the mainland was under Soviet
> influence. That's why it uses "x" where Taiwanese use "hs". In
> cyrilic script "x" denotes quite a similar sound, but for
> non-Russian speakers it does not make any sense.

I beg to differ. The cyrillic letter that looks like a roman letter "X" sounds very different from Hanyu Pinyin's "X" as does the English "X". Russian does have a sound that is somewhat similar, but they use a different letter for that. So for a Russian native speaker the use of the "X" in Hanyu Pinyin appears no less odd than for an English native speaker.
So where does it come from ? I do not know. Maybe they copied the Greek "X", which can sound similar. (Linguists often know some Greek.) Maybe they just needed an unused letter.
Personally, I cannot see that either "X" or "HS" is better suited than the other. There is a sound that does not exist in popular western languages, so you have to invent something. Both are just as fine.

James Campbell

Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by James Campbell »

I believe that in Spanish and Portuguese renderings of Central and Southern American Indian names, this "x" sound is used with approximately the same sound as in Chinese. And to consider that the Portuguese were a presence in China during Europe's years of colonialism, it is not unlikely that this is borrowed from Portuguese.

Much of the Cyrillic alphabet was borrowed from Greek with a few additions. The 'chi' (X) in Greek is the same letter and same pronunciation as the Russian and has absolutely no relation with the use of 'x' in Chinese pinyin.

In fact the Russian cyrillicization of Chinese has its own system.


Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by IronMonkey »

All of the educated Chinese people I know who come from Mainland China know how to use PinYin.

IronMonkey ;)


Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by Zhongguoren »

Zhongguo Zhengfu shuo: "zai Hanzi buneng huozhe bu fangbian de shihou yong Pinyin."


Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by abc »

<<Huanle de Hai>> jiushi yong Pinyin xie3 de wenxue zuopin.


Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by abc »

Xianggang de xuexiao xianzai shi jiao1 Pinyin de.


Re: Pinyin, why?

Post by hb »

lailai wrote:

> Maybe I can tell something. First, pinyin is the official roman
> systems for
> Chinese language in mainland China, while in Taiwan it is a
> different system
> called Zhuyin Fuhao. Second, Everybody in China knows pinyin,
> and every
> student learns it as early as from primary school. So there is
> no problem
> that anybody in China does not recognize pinyin. Pinyin to
> Chinese students
> is not like French or Spanish to English-speaking students. It
> is a roman
> system for the same language rather than some other languages.
> The last thing I have to tell you is, the pinyin system only
> represents the
> sound of the Chinese characters, which means that it lost the
> structure or
> the picture of the character itself, which is the most
> important and meaningful part of Chinese language (and also its
> culture). Also only using
> pinyin will cause a lot of ambiguities, because a pinyin word
> may represent
> several characters. That's the reason that China will never use
> pinyin as
> a replacement of the characters, as some radical people
> suggested in
> early 20th century, because it would have caused much more
> problems
> than the problems it could have solved.
> I am a native Chinese Mandarin speaker, and anyone interested
> in
> Chinese language or literature is welcome to contact me via
> email:

I'm interested HB