[KS] The Romanization Discussion
marion.eggert at ruhr-uni-bochum.de
Sun Jul 3 12:06:55 EDT 2005
I have to disagree on a small point concerning Chinese. Pinyin has
served as model for the new government system exactly because it has
indeed managed to replace Wade-Giles almost universally, in spite of
strong initial resistance by sinologists.
However, the strong points of Wade-Giles over Pinyin in terms of
rendering actual pronunciation are not so many; they concern mainly the
sounds that are represented in Pinyin by x and q. As for the vowels,
shih or tzu informs the non-speaker of putonghua as little about the
actual sound as shi or zi does, lien is as misconstruable as lian.
Adding the tonal character of the Chinese language, no one would expect
any romanization of Chinese to enable the non-Chinese speaker to
pronounce a word in a recognizable manner. In contrast, this is what we
have come to expect from a romanization of Korean, as we have been
accustomed to a system that brought most foreigners in Korea pretty
close to making him/herself understood, as far as I can judge from my
experience. Therefore, I doubt that the new government system, with its
eo-eu-jumble, will be able to achieve what Pinyin did.
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