[KS] The Romanization Discussion

Marion Eggert 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.

Best regards,

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list