How to write verbs in Hanyu Pinyin (Mandarin text)

cover image for the book

Here’s the first of several selected readings from Yin Binyong’s X?nhuá P?nxi? Cídi?n (???????? / ????????). It covers the writing of verbs.

This reading is available in two versions:

  • simplified Chinese characters: ???? ??
  • traditional Chinese characters: ???? ??

For those who would like to read about this in English, see

Taiwan’s implementation of Hanyu Pinyin to be limited, gradual

The Ministry of Education’s National Languages Committee on Wednesday issued very general guidelines for how Taiwan will go about implementing Hanyu Pinyin.

Unfortunately, they’re not very clear. But long years of experience have taught me that the most pessimistic interpretation (from the standpoint of Pinyin advocates) is probably the correct one. One guideline, for example, states:

Guónèi dìmíng shǔ guójì tōngyòng huò yuēdìngsúchéng zhě, wúxū gēnggǎi.
(Dometic place names that are internationally known or established by convention need not change.)

That’s going to be the excuse used to justify keeping all too many names in bastardized Wade-Giles or other largely useless systems. Thus, we’re probably stuck with not just old forms of names of big cities and counties (e.g., Kaohsiung and Taichung rather than Gaoxiong and Taizhong) but also old forms of lesser-known cities and counties (e.g., Taitung and Keelung rather than Taidong and Jilong). If this is the extent of things, it would copy the policy that the previous administration applied, which I think would be a terrible mistake.

Taiwan’s romanization situation: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that this will be used an excuse to keep even more old forms than the DPP’s Tongyong policy did, e.g., Panchiao and Hsintien rather than Banqiao and Xindian (or Tongyong’s Banciao and Sindian). In which case the expression might better be, “Taiwan’s romanization situation: one step forward, two steps back.

sources:

detailed rules for Hanyu Pinyin: a major addition to Pinyin.Info

cover of Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation and OrthographyFor several years I’ve had online the brief official principles for writing Hanyu Pinyin. But those go only so far. Fortunately, Yin Binyong (Yǐn Bīnyōng / 尹斌庸) (1930-2003), who was involved in work on Hanyu Pinyin from the beginning, wrote two books on the subject, producing a detailed, logical, and effective orthography for Pinyin.

The only one of those two books with English explanations as well as Mandarin, Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation and Orthography (Mandarin title: Hànyǔ Pīnyīn hé Zhèngcífǎ / 汉语拼音和正词法 / 漢語拼音和正詞法), has gone out of print; and at present there are no plans to bring it back into print. Fortunately, however, I was eventually able to secure the rights to reproduce this work on Pinyin.Info. Yes, the entire book. So everybody be sure to say thank you to the generous publisher by buying Sinolingua’s books.

This book, which is nearly 600 pages long, is a mother lode of information. It would be difficult for me to overstate its importance. Over the next few months I’ll be releasing the work in sections. I had intended to delay this a little, as I have had to wait for a fancy new scanner and am still awaiting some OCR software that can handle Hanzi as well as the Roman alphabet. (This Web site is an expensive hobby!) But since Taiwan has recently adopted Hanyu Pinyin I will be releasing some material soon (without OCR, for the time being) in the hope of helping Taiwan avoid making mistakes in its implementation of an orthography for Pinyin here.

Watch this blog for updates.

Taiwan Google searches: Hanyu Pinyin vs. Tongyong Pinyin

Taiwan’s still official but probably-not-long-for-this-world romanization system for Mandarin is Tongyong Pinyin. Tongyong Pinyin, however, is basically unknown outside Taiwan and, in truth, very little known even within Taiwan. (And many of those — like me — who do know it don’t like it.) But still, it’s what the Chen administration forced into use on highway signs, within train stations, and on some other signage throughout the country. So there’s certain to be some interest for it here. But in Taiwan how does interest in it compare against interest in Hanyu Pinyin, use of the latter system being regarded as something close to a sign of the apocalypse among some Tongyong supporters? The new Google Insights provides some clues.

Here’s a relative look at Google searches from Taiwan in 2008 for the terms “漢語拼音” (Hanyu Pinyin) and “通用拼音” (Tongyong Pinyin).

In Taiwan, searches for Hanyu Pinyin have clearly been more popular this year.

What about in the longer term? Below is a chart from 2004 to the present. (The lines are a little different because in the long-term chart averages are by month; but the monthly averages probably give a clearer picture anyway.)

Again, interest in Hanyu Pinyin comes out on top — consistently — even in Taiwan.

Not surprisingly, in searches worldwide, Tongyong Pinyin basically doesn’t even register against Hanyu Pinyin, so great is the disparity.

If you’d like to run some searches on your own, note that Google Insights distinguishes between traditional and “simplified” Chinese characters, i.e., a search for “漢語拼音” will yield substantially different results than one for “汉语拼音”.

Zhou Youguang awarded

Zhou Youguang, often called the father of Hanyu Pinyin, has received another award.

Dì-wǔ jiè Wú Yùzhāng Jiǎng 31 rì zài Zhōngguó Rénmín Dàxué bānfā, céng cānyù “Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Fāng’àn” zhìdìng de “Hànyǔ Pīnyīn zhī fù” Zhōu Yǒuguāng huòdé Wú Yùzhāng rénwén shèhuì kēxué jiǎng tè děng jiǎng.

Zhè wèi 102 suì gāolíng de yǔyánxuéjiā yǐ qí sì juǎn běn “Zhōu Yǒuguāng yǔwén lùn jí” huòjiǎng. Tā zǎonián xuéxí jīngjì xué, yè yú cóngshì yǔyán wénzì yánjiū. 1955 nián chūrèn Zhōngguó wénzì gǎigé wěiyuánhuì dì-yī yánjiūshì zhǔrèn, yánjiū wénzì gǎigé hé Hànyǔ Pīnyīn, bìng yú liù nián hòu chūbǎn “Hànzì gǎigé gàilùn,” quánmiàn xì tǒng de lùnshù le Zhōngguó de wénzì gǎigé wèntí. Tā hái cānyù zhìdìng “Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Fāng’àn,” cùchéng “Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Fāng’àn” chéngwéi yòng Luómǎ zìmǔ pīnxiě Hànyǔ de guójì biāozhǔn, bèi yùwéi “Hànyǔ Pīnyīn zhī fù.” Rújīn, zài Měiguó Guóhuì Túshūguǎn lǐ, jì cáng yǒu jīngjìxuéjiā Zhōu Yǒuguāng de zhùzuò, yòu yǒu zuòwéi yǔyán wénzìxué jiā Zhōu Yǒuguāng de zhùzuò.

Zhōu Yǒuguāng zài huòjiǎng gǎnyán zhōng chēng: “Wǒ de sūnnǚ zài xiǎoxué shí duì wǒ shuō, yéye nín kuī le, nín gǎo jīngjì bàntú ér fèi, gǎo yǔwén bànlùchūjiā, liǎng ge bànyuán hé qǐlai shì yī ge líng. Wǒ jīnhòu yào zàicì cóng líng zuòqǐ, hǎohāo xuéxí, lǎodāngyìzhuàng, gǎnshàng shídài. “Yōumò de fāyán yíngdé quánchǎng chíjiǔ de zhǎngshēng.

Jùxī, Zhōu Yǒuguāng 83 suì shí “huàn bǐ” yòng diànnǎo gōngzuò, 98 suì kāishǐ chàngdǎo “jīchǔ Huáwén” yùndòng, 100 suì, 101 suì, 102 suì shí jūn yǒu zhùzuò chūbǎn.

Tóngshí huòdé tèděng jiǎng de háiyǒu Zhōngguó Rénmín Dàxué jiàoshòu, zhùmíng fǎxuéjiā Xǔ Chóngdé. Xǔ Chóngdé céng cānyù qǐcǎo 1954 nián xiànfǎ, 1982 nián xiànfǎ, “Xiāng Gǎng tèqū jīběnfǎ” hé “Àomén tèqū jīběnfǎ” sìbù fǎ lǜ, jiànzhèng le Zhōngguó xiànzhèng fāzhǎn jìnchéng. Tā de huòjiǎng zhùzuò wèi “Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó xiànfǎ shǐ.”

Cǐwài, běn cì Wú Yùzhāng rénwén shèhuì kēxué jiǎng hái bānfā yīděng jiǎng 12 xiàng, yōuxiù jiǎng 25 xiàng.

Wú Yùzhāng rénwén shèhuì kēxué jiǎng yóu Wú Yùzhāng jījīn shèlì, miànxiàng quánguó jiǎnglì guónèi yǒu zhòngdà yǐngxiǎng de yōuxiù zhé xué shèhuì kēxué lùnzhù. Jù Wú Yùzhāng jījīn wěiyuánhuì zhǔrèn wěiyuán, Zhōngguó Rénmín Dàxué yuán xiàozhǎng Yuán Bǎohuà jièshào, zhèige jiǎng xiàng měi wǔ nián píngxuǎn yīcì, xiàn píngjiǎng xuékē wèi Mǎkèsīzhǔyì lǐlùn, zhéxué, jiàoyùxué, lì shǐxué, Zhōngguó chuántǒng wénhuà yǔ yǔyán wénzìxué, xīnwénxué, jīngjìxué hé fǎxué děng bā ge xuékē, měi ge xuékē shè tèděng jiǎng, yīděng jiǎng jí yōuxiù jiǎng. Zì 1987 nián zhìjīn, zhèige jiǎng yǐ bānfā wǔ jiè, Guō Mòruò, Lǚ Shūxiāng, Hú Shéng, Wáng Lì děng xiān-hòu huòjiǎng, yǐ chéngwéi quánguóxìng zhéxué shèhuì kēxué yánjiū guīgé jiào gāo de jiǎnglì.

Wú Yùzhāng jījīn yóu Zhōngguó Rénmín Dàxué shèlì, yǐ jìniàn wúchǎn jiējí gémìngjiā, jiàoyùjiā, lìshǐxuéjiā, yǔ yán wénzìxué jiā, Rénmín Dàxué dì-yī rèn xiàozhǎng Wú Yùzhāng.

source: ‘Hànyǔ Pīnyīn zhī fù’ huò Wú Yùzhāng rénwén shèhuì kēxué jiǎng (“漢語拼音之父”獲吳玉章人文社會科學獎), Xinhua, November 1, 2007

further reading:

Taipei to stick with Hanyu Pinyin, despite pressure from central gov’t: mayor

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (H?o Lóngb?n / ???) said on Sunday that Taipei will not switch from Hanyu Pinyin to Tongyong Pinyin, despite pressure from the Ministry of the Interior to do so.

Questioned by reporters at the wedding of Taiwan’s top “Go” player, Hau stressed that the Taipei City Government would continue to use Hanyu Pinyin despite the Interior Ministry’s push as it’s the most commonly used pinyin system in the international community.

“Taipei City has decided to continue using Hanyu Pinyin to connect with other countries in the world,” Hau said.

He suggested that the Interior Ministry consult with linguistic scholars and learn to respect their expertise when standardizing the romanization of Taiwan’s place and street names.

Yes, the MOI would do well to follow this advice — as would the Taipei City Government itself. Taipei’s stupid @#$%! InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion and lack of apostrophes are significant errors. And sometimes the lack of tone marks is a problem. And don’t get me started about Taipei’s “nicknumbering” system.

Taipei City is the only city in Taiwan that has adopted Hanyu Pinyin.

This is incorrect. Several cities around Taiwan use Hanyu Pinyin, such as Xinzhu and Taizhong, though none as consistently as Taipei.

TVBS is reporting that Taipei will be forced to switch, which I very much doubt will happen — certainly not before the presidential election in March 2008.

Nèizhèngbù de xíngzhèng mìnglìng y?dàn b?nbù, bùyòng sòngji?o Lìyuàn tóngyì, Táib?i shìzhèngf? zh?y?u zhàobàn de fèn, 5 nián qián, M? Y?ngji? qiángshì zh?d?o Hàny? P?ny?n, ràng Táib?i Shì chéngwéi t? y?nzh?ng, g?n guójì ji?gu? de d?shì, 5 nián hòu, Nèizhèngbù dìngdìng f?lìng qi?ngpò zhíxíng, g?i le y? jì huím?qi?ng.

TVBS also gives the cost for changing Taipei’s signs at NT$8 million (US$250,000).

The TVBS video gives lots of pictures of signs.

sources:

MOI and Tongyong Pinyin: update

I have spent many hours over the past few days trying to find out exactly what is behind the recent news story about the Ministry of Education and moves to expand Tongyong Pinyin by the end of the year.

I have sent out no fewer than five e-mail messages to various government officials but have received no responses. I have also made more than a dozen phone calls to various ministries and government-information lines. But nobody I spoke with knows what is going on. My wife helped by making some calls on her own. She was eventually able to get through to someone at the Ministry of the Interior who does have a clue about all this.

Here is basically what is happening.

On October 30, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior promulgated the government’s guidelines for writing place names (including not just town names but physical features, such as rivers, mountains, temples, bridges, etc.) in English and romanization: Yùgào dìngdìng “bi?ozh?n dìmíng yì xi? zh?nzé” (??????????????) (MS Word document).

Most of the pages of this document are simply a list of townships and districts throughout Taiwan, as given in Tongyong Pinyin. But it also contains a few pages of general guidelines. Local governments and interested individuals (yes, that could include you, o reader) who wish to comment on these guidelines may do so before the deadline of Thursday, November 8. The question of Tongyong Pinyin vs. Hanyu Pinyin, however, is supposedly off the table, as the Ministry of the Interior must follow the administration in this — though I encourage anyone who writes the ministry to bring up the issue anyway. I will post contact information as soon as I get it.

To return to the matter of the promulgated document, these are the guidelines that Taiwan’s local governments are ordered to use, with local governments’ offices of land administration compiling lists of place names to be standardized within their jurisdictions and submitting these lists to the MOI’s Department of Land Administration (dìzhèng s? f?ngyù k? / ??????).

If local governments reject Tongyong Pinyin and use a different romanization system, the MOI does not have the authority to compel them to switch to Tongyong. But the central government can and and almost certainly will exert pressure on them to toe the line.

Making matters worse for advocates of Hanyu Pinyin, the international standard romanization system for Mandarin, is the fact that many local officials — even in “blue” regions — do not believe they have autonomy in this matter, as I know from having spoken with several of them about precisely this topic. Nor, unsurprisingly, do they take the word of a foreigner over what they “know” to be “correct”: that they must use Tongyong whether they like it or not. As an example, the city of Jilong (“Keelung”), which is controlled by the anti-Tongyong “blues,” instituted a plan to standardize street names there with Tongyong Pinyin. Nor will most officials bother to look up the rule they are supposedly following — and which, BTW, I can’t show them because it doesn’t exist.

The recently promulgated proposal has extremely limited guidelines. These are most certainly inferior to the fuller guidelines for Hanyu Pinyin — to say nothing of the book-length supplementary guidelines for Hanyu Pinyin (Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation and Orthography and the Xinhua Pinxie Cidian) and carefully produced dictionaries in Hanyu Pinyin.

Probably the best thing I could say about the guidelines is a negative: At least they didn’t adopt Taipei’s StuPid, StuPid PolICy Of InTerCapITaLiZaTion.

The problem that is likely to affect more names than other deficiencies — other than the fundamental matter of Tongyong Pinyin, that is — is the recommended use of the hyphen. Basically, the guidelines call for a hyphen where Hanyu Pinyin would use an apostrophe: before any syllable that begins with a, e, or o, unless that syllable comes at the beginning of a word or immediately follows a hyphen or other dash.

The reason that is a big problem, beyond the failure to follow the standard of Hanyu Pinyin, is that hyphens cannot then be put to the good use they have in Hanyu Pinyin. Hyphens are often needed in signage because they are used in short forms of proper nouns, for example the correct short form of Taiwan Daxue (National Taiwan University) is “Tai-Da.”

Hyphens can thus help clarify names a great deal becuase they often indicate an abbreviation. Mandarin’s tendency toward Consider bridge names, in which the hyphen helps indicates the reason for the name:

  • not Huazhong but Hua-Zhong (for [Wan]hua to Zhong[he])
  • not Huajiang but Hua-Jiang (for [Wan]hua to Jiang[zicui])

Or the case given in the guidelines of ????. The recommendation there is for “Jianan dazun.” But giving “Jia-Nan” instead of “Jianan” would help clarify that this is something in Jiayi and Tainan counties.

The government guidelines’ failure to employ the hyphen in the same manner as Hanyu Pinyin is a major deficiency.

Taiwan should have Tongyong Pinyin’s orthography follow the well-established guidelines for Hanyu Pinyin. But the administration’s petty difference-for-the-sake-of-difference policy will likely rule out that course.