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CHAT: Chinese romanization

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, December 23, 1998, 18:05
Douglas Koller wrote:

> If the point of romanization is to make the Chinese language more > accessible to non-speakers, it fails.
I don't think *any* romanization scheme could do that. :-) Besides, which non-speakers? The vowels are bad for English-speakers, but then all Latin vowels are bad for English speakers.
> Pinyin 'x' and 'q' aren't > especially intuitive,
Well, "x" is good for Portuguese-speakers, and "q" is really a borrowing of CYRILLIC LETTER CHE, slightly reshaped. (1/2 :-))
> If GYRMT can be "picked > up" at all, I doubt it's with speed, and I suspect it's more likely that > you have to hunker down and consciously "learn" it.
It's a lot simpler than most traditional spelling systems in Latin-alphabet languages, except those (Croatian, Spanish, Czech, Turkish) which are recently adopted or reformed. Its chief virtue is that it "locks in" tones. All too often, Pinyin and W-G just leave off the tone marks, which certainly impedes learning for CSLs and sometimes leaves natives confused too, by all reports.
> [S]ince tone gets > alphabetized along with everything else, like-sounding words with > different tones are scattered to different parts of the dictionary > index
Yi and Hmong tonal spelling represent the tone in the last letter or two, which helps quite a bit. There are a couple of Pinyin variants out there which are tonal-spelling also (typical example: tang1 = tang, tang2 = taang, tang3 = tarng, tang4 = tahng), but none at the end. ObConScript: How about a Pinyin-based scheme with final tone letters? Things like -s, -h, -x would be plausible (-h is silent in many Western languages, and silent -s and -x appear in French). Though I admit -ngx is unaesthetic (worse yet, -ngrx). -- John Cowan You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)