In many books about Confucius' Analects, 大學 is transliterated as Ta-Hio.

Why is this? 大學 is dàxué in Pinyin, da hsüeh in Wade-Giles, da sywe in Yale, and daai hok in Cantonese, so where does this transliteration come from?

  • Legge transcription?
    – user58955
    Oct 7, 2013 at 17:51
  • Based on the transcription alone, my guess is that it's from a northern dialect (due to the absence of the final -k in 學). The initial h- in 學 indicates that it's either from a time before the palatalization of Mandarin initial consonants (roughly 200-400 years ago, hi- and hü- became modern Mandarin xi- and xu-), or from a dialect that wasn't affected by palatalization (with which I'm not familiar). However, a Google search for "Ta Hio" seems to result in many citations of Ezra Pound, who is a relatively modern author. I don't know whether the term predates Pound though.
    – Claw
    Oct 7, 2013 at 18:29
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    @user58955 Legge appears to have transliterated it as Ta Hëŏ, which is close.
    – Claw
    Oct 7, 2013 at 20:43
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    Could be court mandarin or the contemporary standard pronunciation... The mandarin spoken in the Qing court experienced less palatalization despite the ongoing process in vernacular Beijing accent, that's why 北京 and 南京 were called Peking and Nanking, and 福建 was transcribed as Fukien. Not sure if h->x happened in the court pronunciation though.
    – user58955
    Oct 7, 2013 at 20:44
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    @Claw (Using Baxter's Middle Chinese notation) It seems lots of [jqx]ue and [jqx]iao words started with -æwk endings in MC. Baxter doesn't make any notes that one is regular or irregular though, so I expect it's a 白/文 distinction. This info + chart implies that -iao is regular Mandarin and -ue is literary (Beijingified Nanjing chinese?). Perhaps xiao~hio was the normal pronunciation in Beijing a long time ago? Oct 9, 2013 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


It's Mandarin transliteration by Portuguese Jesuit Fr. Inácio da Costa (17th century).

Partial text:


Ta hio chi dao, cai min min te, cai cin min, cai chi yu chi xen


It's just the pinyin of a dialect for 大學.

  • If you read the comments, you'll see that that's pretty unlikely. Jan 23, 2014 at 16:11
  • @StumpyJoePete It's a romanization/pinyin of ancient Chinese, possibly some regional dialect.
    – phoeagon
    Jan 24, 2014 at 7:08
  • @phoeagon If by "ancient dialect", you mean "probably court Mandarin, probably quite modern", then yes. The transcription was given in a modern book, using translation resources that can't be more than a few hundred years old (and furthermore, are definitely based on court Mandarin of some type). Jan 24, 2014 at 16:24

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