example one


Originally, I just figured it was a topolectical reading but then I found this:



The above blog post is also tagged as 汉语拼音方案 so it certainly is not talking about anything dialectical.

  • What's the deal about 解 read as jiai?

2 Answers 2


If you'd ever seen Mathews' Chinese-English dictionary (rev. American ed. Harvard UP, 1957 and a million pirate editions), this would ring a bell. "Chiai" goes back to the OLD National Pronunciation system of 1920 and can also be found in a system used by the missionaries of the China Inland Mission, of whom R. H. Mathews was one.

The revision of Mathews dictionary was done by Y. R. Chao in 1943, in gross violation of Mathews' copyright, but there was a war on at the time. Chao has a note on these quirks in his introduction to the revision. According to Chao, the 1920 system was "an eclectic system" put together by a government committee in 1920, and "took features of Central dialects into consideration." The 1920 system was replaced in 1931, right after Mathews dictionary was published, by a new system which is "practically a straightforward adoption of the pronunciation of Peiping."

Peiping pronuciation (whoops, I mean Beijing), has a sort of dissimilation of medials and diphthongs, such that you don't get u-u or i-i combinations; apparently this was not true of some of the dialects that went into the 1920 pronunciation stew. Other characters written "chiai" include 街、介、戒、皆 and most of the characters that use them as phonetics.

I might add that Mathews contributed greatly to my confusion over Mandarin pronunciation. Apparently some people at an obscure diploma mill in Cambridge MA still use it. But as for why this is popping up now in China, color me puzzled.

  • Is 界 also written as "chiai" (jiai) in Matthews'?
    – Mou某
    Jul 12, 2015 at 1:08
  • 1
    Yup. Here's a list of all the chiai characters in Mathews: 界、玠、芥、蚧、疥、誡、屆、皆、偕、喈、楷,稭、階,plus 解、介、戒、街. There are still plenty of chieh characters too: 接、揭、結、節、 姐 and a bunch more. Really doesn't have anything to do with Peiping hua.
    – wpt
    Jul 12, 2015 at 7:30
  • How would chieh be properly "pinyin"-ized?
    – Mou某
    Jul 12, 2015 at 7:45
  • Just the same as 解: jie. So as far as standard Chinese is concerned, the difference between chiai and chieh in the CIM/NP systems is totally artificial.
    – wpt
    Jul 12, 2015 at 10:37
  • 2

If you don't usually use 'thy' instead of 'you', you should read 解 as 'jie' but not 'jiai'

  • 2
    I know this wasn't the point, but thy means your, not you. (you as subject is thou, as object is thee)
    – vermillon
    Jul 12, 2015 at 8:20

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