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Re: OFF: More Pinyin reform...

From:DOUGLAS KOLLER <laokou@...>
Date:Saturday, February 26, 2000, 7:46
From: "Daniel A. Wier"

> I went back to the drawing board for variations of Pinyin... right now
> only reforms I'm sure on are:
> ao > au > u" (u-umlaut) > iu > ie > ieh (see below)
Okay on "au", I guess. I think Yale does something similar. ü > iu raises some problems I think. A) There will now be ambiguous syllables as you combine "niu2", "cow", with "nü3", "woman", and "lü2", "donkey", and "liu2", "remain". In a previous post you indicated that this could be easily dealt with, but how? B) There are syllables like "nüe4", "malaria", out there which by your system will become a slightly unwieldy "niueh". C) Are you only going to use "iu" where "ü" occurs in pinyin or everywhere the /y/ sound occurs? This will generate forms like xiueh, qiueh, and jiueh as well as niueh and liueh. How will you disambiguate pinyin "xu1", "need", and "xiu1", "rest", if you do that?
> These two are only tentative: > > in > ien (this and the next are only tentative) > ing > ieng
Okaaaay, but why?
> >Why the need to disambiguate here since these sounds occur in mutually > >exclusive environments? > > It's optional, and I like it for the sake of clarity. I'm more inclined
> pronounce "ieh" correctly than "ie", which I'm tempted to proounce as > separate "i-e".
Okay, kind of intuitive, too, from an English speaker's perspective. But...
> Yeah, I did more research and found that out. An alternative would be to > use "ir" after "sh", "zh", "ch" and "r". So zhi > jir, and zher > jer.
You'd have to check, but I think Yale does something similar.
> Or > the Wade-Giles equivalent, which is "ih".
If you're using "eh" for the "real e" sound then why would "ih" represent the retroflex as opposed to the "real i" sound?
> And it is true that forming the perfect romanization is like that "Chinese > finger puzzle thing" -- the harder you try to pull your fingers out of it, > the tighter the grip gets.
Too true. But isn't that true of romanizing anything other than, well, Roman? If there's a pathological aversion to diacritics, then one ends up with di- and trigraphs from hell or schemes like English's silent "e". Strip Polish of its diacritics, and wouldn't you have to do back flips to mash it into the Roman alphabet? Back to Chinese. Trust me, the Central Committee isn't paying me commission to tout the virtues of pinyin, really it isn't. But since that's the system in place, anything that intends to replace it is going to have to be really whiz-bang in my book. As an example: zhi ji chi qi different ways to represent the front of the syllable; "i" has different values in mutually exclusive environments. shi xi becomes jir/jer ji qir/qer qi different ways to represent the back of the syllable; "j", "q", and "x" have different values depending on what follows. xir/xer xi I don't see the former or latter as being necessarily superior, but since the former's in place, why replace it with something which works only equally well? Kou