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12

Pinyin, like other written systems, is an arbitrary system, and the corresponding sounds were expressly decided. It seems it was based on preexisting systems: Gwoyeu Romatzyh of 1928, Latinxua Sin Wenz of 1931, and the diacritic markings from Zhuyin (also known as Bopomofo). But the same problem you highlight in your question happens when learning any other ...


9

I have never found a reasoning on how Pinyin was created, but as Alenanno says, there have been predecessors and people working on the Pinyin standard already had some experience with existing systems. Some sounds can probably be mapped to similar IPA notation, while others seem totally off. From my own reasoning I'd say there are at least two arguments ...


5

Pinyin was designed primarily as a writing system for Chinese speakers to use, and to help children who speak other dialects to learn Mandarin. As such, making it easy for foreigners was not a particular priority. In any case, different languages use the Roman letters differently, so what would be obvious choice? For example, in different languages J can ...


3

I vaguely remember reading that Pinyin was developed originally to teach Chinese to Russians, so some of the sounds are based on Russian sounds. I'm not sure how the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were mapped. From a brief browse through Wikipedia articles on Pinyin and Sin Wenz the Russian connection sounds reasonable, but I can't find any details to confirm ...


3

This will give you a good background into each of the systems: Cantonese romanization systems are based on the accent of Canton and Hong Kong, and have helped define the concept of Standard Cantonese. The major systems are Barnett–Chao, Meyer–Wempe, the Chinese government's Guangdong Romanization, Yale and Jyutping. While they do not differ ...


2

The two most common systems are Yale and Jyutping, the latter was invented as late as 1993. I think both are included alongside pinyin in Unicode's a perhaps other Chinese lookup tables. My own experience is that hardly any native speakers are even aware of these systems, especially in mainland China where they don't learn their own language at school at ...


1

Confucius is a latin transliteration as opposed to an English one. Etymology might be a good starting point: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Confucius This article is probably highly relevant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesuit_China_missions Further reading: http://www.amazon.com/WINDOWS-INTO-CHINA-JESUITS-1580-1730/dp/B000ID3EIE


1

Mr Giles' phrasebook uses -r, the same as Pinyin. The phrasebook was published after he created the Wade-Giles system, so presumably it uses this system. (EDIT: I previously said "I think this might have been before the Wade-Giles system was formalized", but then found that the date of publication was 1901, while Wikipedia says Wade-Giles "was given ...


1

This is not a complete answer, but the Wade-Giles example chart on this Chinese-language Wikipedia entry includes "kêrh" as a transcription of the rhotacized "哥儿." I do not know the general rule. The GR (Gwoyeu Romatzyh) transcription system, which was used officially in China from 1928-1958, has complex rules for 儿化 spellings. I can't find a complete chart ...



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