Sin Wenz 新文字

cover of Sin Wenz book

Sin Wenz (or Xin Wenzi, as it would be written in Hanyu Pinyin) is a romanization system for various dialects of Mandarin, the dominant language in the northern part of China. This Chinese romanization system is sometimes also called "Zhongguo Latinxua Sin Wenz," "Beifangxua Latinxua Sin Wenz" (Beila or Bei-La, for short), or "Latinxua." The most revolutionary difference between the Sin Wenz method and prior efforts (such as Gwoyeu Romatzyh) is the assertion that Mandarin can be written with the roman alphabet without tones needing to be indicated most of the time.

Sin Wenz is derived from work originally done in the Soviet Union in 1929-30 by Qu Qiubai (1899-1935) and V.S. Kolokolov (1896-1979). They were joined in 1930 by A.A. Dragunov. Although Qu Qiubai had good instincts, he was not a linguist and consequently made a number of mistakes. In October 1930 the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences in Leningrad established a commission to study romanization. The efforts of those on the commission improved Sin Wenz.

At least 70 monographs were published in Sin Wenz during the 1930s in the Soviet Union, whose population included ethnic Chinese. Many in China also called for the use of the new system. Lu Xun was the most prominent supporter of Sin Wenz.

Qu Qiubai, who was an important figure in the Chinese Communist Party, was executed by the Kuomintang, which also worked to suppress Sin Wenz.

For more on the development of Sin Wenz, see Nationalism and Language Reform in China, by John DeFrancis.

Included here on this site is the nearly complete text of Sin Wenz Rhumen (A Primer on Sin Wenz), a book published in Beijing in 1936. It is written in almost entirely in tetragraphs (Chinese characters). I have added English translations to the section titles.

My copy of this work is incomplete. I would be very grateful if someone could supply the rest of the pages.