Other 'isations of Mandarin Chinese... do they exist?

Hi. I wasn’t sure if there was a topic on this already, and wasn’t really sure how to go about searching for one using the search function (isation’s by itself didn’t reveal anything useful). So please pardon the new thread.

Before I ask the questions, here are some conclusions I’ve drawn on Romanisation and it’s usefulness to Mandarin Chinese language learners:

  • I’ll start of by saying, I am not advocating alternatives, in fact I very much appreciate the usefulness of Romanisation of Chinese, and in this area I am a Hanyu-Pinyin favourer (not advocater).
  • At some point, you have to choose (if it isn’t chosen for you) a character system to represent the phonemes of Chinese.
  • Obviously, nearly all Chinese language students who have had little or no exposure to Chinese characters and caligraphy, will at least have some familiarity with the Roman alphabet, even if they are from somewhere where it is not the primary alphabet, so Hanyu-Pinyin would likely be the most chosen candidate.
  • Just for arguments sake, say someone was completely unexposed to the Roman alphabet. Then they could equally use either Hanyu-Pinyin or MPS (bopomofo) to learn Chinese, and would be equally… disadvantaged shall we say, by the character un-familiarity. This would seem to me to be the only reason why another “'isation” would be useful.

Now, I can’t imagine there would be many people from afar who had been opened up to the world to learn Chinese, yet had never become familiar with the Roman Alphabet? Perhaps I am to presumptious? :blush:

So instead of being presumptious, does anyone know (is it supposed to be common knowledge?) if there are other 'isations of Mandarin Chinese, for other alphabets?

For example, which character system would a student in/from Japan, use for learning? Are the MPS characters part of the Japanese character system? As they are based in caligraphic methods of writing, would they be preferrable to Hanyu-Pinyin?

And how about other alphabets (eg. Hewbrew, Arabic, Thai, Hindu, etc…)? Are there any other 'isations?

You’ve raised an interesting question: What method do people living in countries that do not employ the roman alphabet for their own languages use when learning Mandarin? It’s my understanding that Hanyu Pinyin is close to universal, even in say Russia or Israel – though of course those countries would use their own systems (most likely unofficial) when, for example, a Chinese name needs to be written in a newspaper. My guess would be that the more Western/Westernized the country (e.g., Greece, Russia, but not Thailand) the more likely it would be to use Hanyu Pinyin.

I’d love to learn more about this. Any Forumosans from Russia, Greece, Israel, Thailand, etc.?

Though some people stubbornly refuse to believe this, there is no linguistic advantage to using anything other than a romanization system.

Sure, there are lots. For a few, see my page on non-romanization systems.

In Bangkok’s Chinatown I’ve seen plenty of shop names that use Thai letters to represent Chinese names (but usually Cantonese or Hokkien pronunciations of the names). They’re written phonetically using Thai letters, and I doubt the Thai-ification is standardized.

I read something once about Chinese being written in a standardized Cyrillic form.

The Cyrillic (Russian) spelling system for Chinese is well established (see Cranky’s web site). Russian has no ng sound. The Chinese ending -ng is represented in Russian as -H (N), and the -n ending is represented by -Hb (N+soft sign (myagkiy znak)).

Japanese currently use Hanyu Pinyin. Have for a while. Before that it was katakana, and I know all too well what that does to their English.

Based on what? My personal experience – having started with Yale, moved to Hanyu Pinyin, and then to Zhuyin Fuhao before I had really gotten the full hang of Pinyin, and then later gotten the full hang on Pinyin – is that Zhuyin Fuhao is of great benefit for one’s pronunciation. Now, you’re free to have either a personal opinion or cite some linguistic gobbledy-gook, but unless you want to give me information on someone really putting them head to head . . . you say tomato, I say tomato.

Well, they may use it for learning Chinese, but in terms of writing Chinese terms and place names they still use katakana. Or at least every Japanese I’ve met has.

I’ve met many a Japanese student in my studies in both China and Taiwan. They’ve all used Hanyu pinyin … and they’ve all had HORRIBLE pronunciation (with the exception of one Japanese guy I met in China, my roommate, whose Chinese was so good the locals couldn’t tell he wasn’t Chinese). I love the Japanese pronunciation of “shi” as “shee” and “chi” as “chee”. However, if you’ve studied Japanese at all, you’d see where that comes from. When it comes to classical Chinese, reading, writing, and Sinological studies, the Japanese are EXCELLENT, some of the best Chinese scholars in the world (that is why most graduate programs in Chinese literature, whether here in Taiwan or the West require reading competency in Japanese). They just can’t speak well …

Yeah, of course. They use the same characters, unlike about 196 out of 200 countries in the world (arbitrary denominater (and hence numerater) picked for emphasis, I feel the need to add on this board). Of course Hong Kong and Peking [sic] have had their kana changed to fit the English (ironic in the case of Beijing). I was talking about for learners. I guess I misunderstood the original question.

It’s possible I misunderstood too - I read it as referring to how Chinese is represented in various languages rather than what’s used by learners in their learning of Chinese.

I just got these two lines below from two different Japanese pen pals of mine in the last week. Thought it might be of use for our discussion.

  1. 今ちょうど中国の作家が書いた本を読んでいます。
    She is referring to this book
    amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de … s&n=507846
    and Amazon says “Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold.” I wonder if there are any other languages that transliterate rather than translate the English title.

  2. 中華料理私は、好きです。でも中国語はわ
    In regard to this second quote, I would like to reiterate, having taught English in Japanese middle schools, that katakana is the root of all pronunciation evil.

Actually that “xiexie” explains a lot. I was trying to work out why a Japanese friend kept saying “xeixei” instead, and then just now I tried kana-fying it correctly and can’t. At least not without the old “ye” kana.