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 ...
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 ...
Although 清 can be transliterated as chin, it does not seem to be the reason.
Quanzhou, formerly known as Chinchew.
The Postal Map name of the city was (note: should be "is") "Chinchew", a variant of Chincheo, the Portuguese and Spanish transcription of Chiāng-chiu.
It is uncertain when or why British sailors first applied the name to ...
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 ...
Tung river is the translation of 銅河, it's called 大渡河 (Dadu river) now.
On page 127 of the "to the snows of tibet through china", it was written:
. . . Lu-ting-chiao, which is built on both banks of the Tung River, . . .
Well, Lu-ting-chiao is 瀘定橋.
BTW, there's a map on page 353, you may compare it with other source :)
Another interesting book about ...
Yes, there was such an attempt during the Yuan dynasty. The 'Phags-pa script was created for writing languages that were under control of Yuan, including Chinese:
The 'Phags-pa script (Mongolian: дөрвөлжин үсэг "Square script") is an alphabet designed by the Tibetan monk and State Preceptor (later Imperial Preceptor) Drogön Chögyal Phagpa for Kublai Khan, ...
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 table of Chinese characters.
Most native speakers don't use and are not even aware of these systems, especially in mainland China where Cantonese speakers never study their native language at school - it's ...
The international phonetic alphabet would have been a great tool. I understand petruza's frustration completely. Names like Zhuang, Zhang, Zhou and Qing to name a few are almost always mispronounced. Tones and accents are not the problem, the accuracy of consonants needs to be brought in.
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Hong Kong using Standard Written Chinese instead of Written Cantonese because Standard Written Chinese (SWC) is the national standard. Most non-Cantonese speakers might not understand Written Cantonese
English: "I hate him very much"
Standard Written Chinese: "我很討厭他"
Written Cantonese: "我好憎佢"
English: "who ate my apple?"
According to David Prager Branner (林德威) in A Guide to Gwoyeu Romatzyh Tonal Spelling of Chinese it is just an ad hoc rule:
The name of the city of Rome and words derived from it are to be spelled "Roma", even though they are pronounced (and ought to be spelled) Luomaa. Hence the name of this system of Romanization is spelled Romatzyh, not *Luomaatzyh.
the internet archive has a copy of the book "the city of springs: or, mission work in chinchew", which is published in the year 1902:
on page 25, it stated:
The name Chinchew, now so familiar to us, is merely an anglicised
form of Tsuien-chow, being the northern or mandarin ...
The closest thing to what you are describing is found in predictive input pinyin keyboards. Sometimes if I hear something I'm unfamiliar with I'll try typing it into my computer or phone keyboard to see what the predictive text suggests.
There is no perfect mechanical way, though. There are multiple levels of problems:
Word boundaries in Chinese ...
I'm wondering if there is any way to write Chinese characters using the Latin alphabet (a-zA-Z) with/without accents of any sort, and then convert it into Chinese characters. Even if it is considered a bad idea for a new learner, I would still like to know if it is possible in any way.
Every Chinese character is associated with Unicode identification ...
Refer to Mahjong In The West
I think it is just a translation problem.
In the old times, romanisation in Chinese Language like Cantonese Romanisation is not really common, like in this case, Mahjong might be translated from the Wu Dialect or Northern Chinese Language, I'm not sure about that.
You might also refer to this The Mahjong Origin
I hope I did ...
我是2002年生的 or 我是2002年来的
Your second "nian" in the first sentence may be sheng (生，meaning born) or lai (来，meaning came)
I agree with songyuanyao that "DL" may very well be "di". "Di San ju" is "第三句" which means "the third sentence"
As I see it, a major, practical, problem with romanizing Chinese is deciding on the word boundaries and where to put that little space. In English, as well as many European languages, this seems a small matter. You just put a space between words. But in modern Chinese this is not as simple, because "character" and "word" are two different things. The latter ...
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
Specifically for Zhuyin Fuhao they add "ㄦ" as an erhua marker after the Zhuyin tone mark of the erhua-ized syllable e.g. 电影儿 is transcribed "ㄉㄧㄢˋㄧㄥˇㄦ". Usually this ㄦ is added with no tone mark (which in Zhuyin otherwise marks first tone) but some dictionaries will instead mark ㄦ with a neutral tone marker i.e. "ㄦ˙" instead. Note that the full syllable 儿 ...
兒化 is the process of adding a 兒 at the end of words in some Notĥern Chinese dialects like the Beijing's one. There is no specific transcription for that other than adding a "r" in pinyin and a "ㄦ" in Zhuyin Fuhao. Although, in Taiwan, it's almost never seen since people don't do 兒化…