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Pinyin Info says of the given names listed

"I refer to these as “Taiwanese” names, I give the Mandarin forms (since Hanyu Pinyin is a system for writing Mandarin), not names in Hoklo/Hokkien (the language often referred to as Taiwanese)" and then lists the Hanzji, Pinyin and "Spelling likely used by this person"

e.g. 彥廷 Yàntíng Yan-ting

and then there is the issue of the interpolated "n": I also think I have seen this and similar names as name as Yàtíng/Ya-ting, i.e. without the "n". Am I mistaken? If not, what's the reason?

(Any other information to help an author use Taiwanese names appropriately also appreciated)

2 Answers 2

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The 'n' here is not interpolated, but just a part of the transcription of these names.

雅婷 Yàtíng/Ya-ting is simply a different name to 彥廷 Yàntíng/Yan-ting/Yen-ting, much like Mike is a different name to Nike.

Note also the importance of tones; even though there are plenty of names which are pronounced the same but written differently (true homophones), there are also names which are tonally different and are thus perceived as two different names.

Compare the several names spelt 'Yi-ting' on that list: 宜庭 is actually homophonous with 怡婷 in Mandarin (although not in Taiwanese Min Nan), both transcribed Yítíng; but neither is homophonous with 依婷 Yītíng, because of the difference in tone on 'yi' (yí vs yī). This difference in tone is salient and fundamental to the name; a change to the tone would be tantamount to calling 'Mary' a 'Marie', or even a 'Maisie'.

A guide to Han Chinese names would give you a good foundation.

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  • Thank you. As an author, there is only so much research that can be done in each area, thus e.g. Ya-ting and Yan-ting being different names escaped me. Fortunately, the importance of tones was not lost on me. The headline question though was, when would the pinyin spelling vs the "plan" spelling without tone markers be used? Is either one a default in Taiwan (Taipei region)? Can you shed any light on that? Commented May 9, 2023 at 13:32
  • @JulianMoore When it comes to "default", this comes down to a default for what. If you are talking ROC passport names, then toneless unofficial Wade-Giles-based pinyin is the most common, even for those born in the 21st century.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 15:43
  • I see; thank you. Perhaps I should have asked instead when a Taiwanese person (late 20C; 21C) would use pinyin. That said, I think it safe to convert all my pinyin names to Wade-Giles - and it's certainly easier on the occidental eye (and simplifies text searching). (NB I think that Wikipedia links says more about Wikipedia's romanization that anything else; other centuries look pretty much the same :) ) Commented May 10, 2023 at 8:41
  • Note that there are three major spoken languages in Taiwan - Mandarin(國語), Taiwanese(台語閔/閩南語), and Hakka(客家話). Often, the pronunciations for the same word are completely different among them, and for the same thing, the words prescribed to it are often different too. So, you should clearly identify which one you have concerns with.
    – r13
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 1:07
  • The issue with Wade-Giles is it messes you up with pinyin. A minor, but still rather bad issue is it doesn't transliterate tones. For example, 馬 sounds different in Cantonese and Mandarin, however they are both "Ma" in Wade-Giles. Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 3:00
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I think Taiwan uses a Wade-Giles variant for transliteration of Chinese names.

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  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review
    – fefe
    Commented Mar 4 at 7:34

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