I've come across a problem. I rendered the character into English as:

in an article, but I'm being told that the proper writing should be:


Now, to me this looks like gobbledygook -or- some Wade–Giles-type / Postal-type romanization. But, the article I was referenced was:

In which one paragraph reads:

根据国家质量监督检验检疫总局、国家标准化管理委员会2011年10月31日发布、2012年2月1日起实施的《中国人名汉语拼音字母拼写规则》(国家标准编号:GB/T 28039-2011),并商教育部语言文字信息管理司,在公安机关出入境管理机构签发的出入境证件中,人名汉语拼音L(“吕”等字)、N(“女”等字)中的大写字母用YU代替,分别打印为LYU、NYU;LE(“略”等字)、NE(“虐”等字)两个音节中的大写字母用U代替,分别打印为LUE、NUE。

As far as I understand this though, this is a technical issue and not a linguistic one. For characters like : should be absolutely correct where as lyu or lv would just be a technical workaround for passports and airline tickets, etc.

Any as to why lyu would be the correct spelling for an article, is beyond all reason to me.

How correct and how widespread is the usage of writing pinyin "ü" as "yu"?

  • Maybe it's a computer age input problem? If you use a German keyboard, ü is readily available, but not if you use Chinese or English keyboard, then the same key gives '[' To enter ü with Chinese or English keyboard, I would need to go to 'enter special character'. Just a thought!
    – Pedroski
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


It's a workaround, and I would recommend that it be treated as such.

The official romanisation of Chinese has an international standard, currently (as of mid-2019) ISO 7098:2015. This does mandate the use of pinyin ü where required.

However, the article refers to a PRC national standard, GB/T 28039-2011, for "acceptable" (not correct) romanisation in international fields (it gives international sports tournaments as an example). Toneless pinyin, how to do double-barrelled surnames, and how to deal with a lack of ü are all covered. For the latter, it specifically states under section 6:

根据技术处理的特殊需要,必要的场合 (如公民护照、对外文件和书刊等)

This was extended by the website above, but with a rule to transliterate 略 lüè and 虐 nüè not to lyue and nyue respectively, but to as lue and nue (as doing so does not introduce any ambiguity anyway).

Why ü as yu? That's the most sensible option for the sound represented in IPA by /y/, if you exclude all other diacritics:

  • The "ü" sound in Hanyu Pinyin is the same sound as "yu". 女, with "ü", rhymes with 语, with "yu".
  • Tongyong Pinyin, official in Taiwan between 2002 and 2008, uses "yu" consistently instead of "ü".
  • The Jyutping romanisation for Cantonese (which also has the /y/ vowel frequently) uses "yu" consistently too.

In what circumstances would one see this then? Passports and other "inherently international" official ones seem to the main target, where known technical issues exist. I personally would consider this workaround to be less correct than the use of ü (as per international standards), but if you are writing an article with a specific company, they may be using that online source as a sort of "house style".

In the wild, of course, the most common is in practice "v".

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