Return of Pinyin Wars


For a while, at least through out most of the 70s, 80s and 90s, names were romanized using castrated Wade-Giles, meaning Wade-Giles without any diacritics. WG isn’t very useful without diacritics.

Today people get to choose their own preferred spelling. If you don’t specify your preference, the clerk will just assign their own preference to you. For the last 10 years, most people in the greater Taipei area probably got a Pinyin romanization.

Sometimes people insist on using WG because it’s a hassle trying to explain to customs that you are traveling with family when the dad’s last name is spelt Tsai and the children’s are spelt Cai.

I don’t recall seeing anyone with a TY romanization name. I’m sure they are out there though.


What the hell are they using in ROC passports for the Romanized spelling of Chinese names?
It looks pretty fucked up, man

Which is pretty serious, really, when you consider that it’s the only ID most people have that can be used in non-Mandarin situations.


For what it’s worth many of my university students (English majors) don’t “know” how to Romanize their name - i.e. they’ll choose different spellings from week to week. They have no clue what their passport says. This was a problem when I was with a bunch of them on an international trip a few years ago.


My bad… It’s like can’t tell the difference between “left” and “right” when there are two similar options.
Indeed, most Taiwanese using Wade-Giles… with minority using Tongyong Pinyin or their being creative.


My favorites are when people (or businesses) choose actual English words that sound vaguely like each syllable in their names. Like Lin Join-sane. It just has a delightfully eccentric and unhinged feel to it.


This is something else.
The Passport Office itself uses some system to generate a Romanized version of the Chinese name and it’s mental.


In the spirit of conformity, what do think of un-standard people names, say like Jhon or Jon instead of John; Johnatan or Jonathon instead of Jonathan or Lynda or Lynnda instead of Linda? Should that be regulated too?


Looks like “un-standard people names” is another word for “misspelled”.


I have nothing against Jon, Lynda, etc., just as I have nothing against, say, 瑪璃 or 瑪琍, etc. Anyone who has learned English properly has no trouble reading Jon and Lynda and knows you should always ask how a name is spelled, and anyone who has learned Chinese properly has no trouble reading 瑪璃 or 瑪琍 and knows you should always ask 甚麽ma,甚麽li?

Woah, I just had déjà vu… :ponder:


And that’s the core of the problem, really. Why is it not taught? Should be in the first few weeks of learning English for every single student. “How do you use the ABC to write Chinese words?” Teachers should give them whatever romanization system the central government has declared official nationwide, point out that there are other systems, and have them memorize the official one in a day or two. It should be easy and takes not more than a one-hour class.


Sorry, there are 2 different things happening there.
Jon is an accepted short form from Jonathan.
John is an actual name all on its own.
Lynda is, AFAIK, an actual variant spelling of Lynda.
Jhon, Johnatan, Jonathon, and Lynnda are all incorrect spellings.

Don’t worry about finding examples, I’m sure there are plenty of people walking around with them, that doesn’t make it correct.

The China web guy for my company is named “Freedom”.
He’s a real person.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t a stupid fucking name.


When a person choose a name for him/herself, they tend to be very creative and unconventional…

Btw, did you saying names like LaFawnduh Lucas-Dynamite is a stupid fucking name?

Hmmm, careful grasshopper, you might cut your wings there :smiley:


I understand where you’re coming from, but I would not be at all shocked to meet a Jon who is not actually a Jonathan, and iirc I have met at least one over the years (who wasn’t the type of person you’re thinking of). That’s part of our heritage, whether we like it or not: stupid orthography plus the common law right to choose one’s own name.


I have the right to choose Bing Bang BOOM as my Chinese name.

That freedom of choice in no way diminishes the rank stupidity of doing so.


Yet you actually could, according to Ministry of Internal Affairs, as long as no offensive meaning of your name.
You could put 冰棒 as your legal name in ARC/Insurance Card (no Chinese character for “boom” as I am aware).




Yes I could.

And you would be entirely within your rights to characterize me as a total frigging assclown for doing so.


陳信安 could be rendered as follows in his passport, according to his origin.
Chen Xin’an = Mainlander
Chen Hsin-an = Taiwanese (being conservative)
Chen Sing-an = Taiwanese (being old-timers)
Chan Sun On = Hong Konger/Macanese (being Cantonese)
Tan Sin An = South-East Asian (being Hokkian)
Chin Nobuyasu = Japanese
Kim Sin-an = Korean
Tran Tin An = Vietnamese


Being creative should be: Old Believer Peace


It’s the random use of commas that drives me nuts. It takes years of work to get my students to unlearn this, with no guarantees.