Reasons Gwoyeu Romatzyh never caught on, part 39

sign with a color photograph of a woman, with 'Eel Chyi 爾旗時尚' written beneath her

Eel Chyi

Here’s a sign spotted in Banqiao, Taiwan, for what would be written “Ěrqí” in Hanyu Pinyin.

“Ěrqí shíshàng” means “Erqi Fashion” (爾旗時尚), with the first word pronounced roughly like the English name “Archie.”

The doubled vowel (“ee”) is a marker of the Gwoyeu Romatzyh romanization system (or “GR” for short), in which doubled vowels indicate the third tone. Thus, “ee” in Gwoyeu Romatzyh equals “ě” in Hanyu Pinyin. As for the -l, that’s GR’s way of indicating -r. For those of you wondering why GR didn’t just use -r for -r, that’s because GR uses -r to indicate second tone … except when it uses other letters to do the same thing. It’s kinda complicated. For example:

  1. ēr = el
  2. ér = erl
  3. ěr = eel
  4. èr = ell


  1. qī = chi
  2. qí = chyi
  3. qǐ = chii
  4. qì = chih

Of course, Hanyu Pinyin’s q isn’t intuitive for most people used to reading in an alphabetic script but must be learned. Once learned, though, q is entirely consistent. And it must be noted that as quirky as Gwoyeu Romatyzh can be, its oddities are nothing compared to those of Chinese characters.

2 thoughts on “Reasons Gwoyeu Romatzyh never caught on, part 39

  1. Come on, we all know the real reason was because the foreign devil’s primitive alphabet is intrinsically inferior to the artistic, ingenious 漢子 which can transcend space-time and transmit meaning without sound, thus allowing us to communicate perfectly with people who lived 500,000 thousand years ago. Why is han yu pin yin still used again?

  2. Why is this Part 39? Where are parts 1-38? Pinyin is a phonemic spelling system inspired by Russian and English, where letters stand for individual phonemes, but GR is based on a traditional Chinese analysis, where letter groups stand for syllable components.

    GR Tonal Spelling (Gwoyeu Romatzyh) is related to Bopomofo and ?? f?nqiè / faanchieh, both forms of syllabic writing. Your alphabet-induced myopia is unfortunate: it only SEEMS to make GR quirky and unreasonable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *