Yale romanization of Mandarin

The Yale romanization of Mandarin is a system for transcribing the sounds of Standard Chinese, based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin.[1] It was devised in 1943 by the Yale sinologist George Kennedy for a course teaching Chinese to American soldiers, and was popularized by continued development of that course at Yale.[2][3] The system approximated Chinese sounds using English spelling conventions, in order to accelerate acquisition of correct pronunciation by English speakers.[4]

The Yale romanization was widely used in Western textbooks until the late 1970s. In fact, during the height of the Cold War, the use outside of China of pinyin rather than Yale romanization, was regarded as a political statement or identification with the communist Chinese regime.[5] The situation was reversed once relations between the People's Republic of China and the West had improved. Communist China (PRC) became a member of the United Nations in 1971 by replacing Nationalist China (ROC). By 1979, much of the world adopted pinyin as the standard romanization for Chinese geographical names. In 1982, pinyin became an ISO standard, and interest in Yale Mandarin declined rapidly thereafter.

Initials and finals edit

The tables below show the Yale Mandarin representation of each Chinese sound (in bold type), together with the corresponding IPA phonetic symbol (in square brackets), and equivalent representations in bopomofo and pinyin.

Initials edit

In Mandarin, stop and affricate consonants are all voiceless, but show a contrast between an aspirated and unaspirated series. A much-criticized feature of the Wade–Giles system was its use of an apostrophe to indicate aspiration, as in the syllable t'a contrasting with the unaspirated ta.

The corresponding Yale spellings, ta and da respectively, suggest an approximation of the aspiration distinction to speakers of English, in which (unlike, say, Romance languages) voiceless consonants like t are pronounced with distinct aspiration when they occur at the start of a word, but voiced ones like d are pronounced unaspirated and with weakened voicing in that position.[6][4] Similar conventions were used in the earlier Gwoyeu Romatzyh system and the later pinyin system.

The Yale system, like Wade–Giles and Gwoyeu Romatzyh, represents palatal consonants using letters for similar sounds with which they are in complementary distribution.[7] That is more intuitive for English speakers than the pinyin usage of the letters q and x, which no longer carry their expected values. For example, q in pinyin is pronounced something like the ch in chicken and is written as ch in Yale Romanization. Xi in pinyin is pronounced something like English she; in Yale it is written as syi.

Labial Alveolar Retroflex Alveolo-palatal Velar
Nasal m [m]
n [n]
Plosive Unaspirated b [p]
d [t]
g [k]
Aspirated p [pʰ]
t [tʰ]
k [kʰ]
Affricate Unaspirated dz [ts]
j [ʈʂ]
j [tɕ]
Aspirated ts [tsʰ]
ch [ʈʂʰ]
ch [tɕʰ]
Fricative f [f]
s [s]
sh [ʂ]
sy [ɕ]
h [x]
Liquid l [l]
r [ɻ~ʐ]

Finals edit

Nucleus a ə
Coda i u n ŋ i u n ŋ ɻ
Medial a [a]
ai [ai]
au [au]
an [an]
ang [aŋ]
e [ɤ]
ei [ei]
ou [ou]
en [ən]
eng [əŋ]
er [aɚ]
r/z [ɨ]
i ya [ja]
ㄧㄚ ia
yau [jau]
ㄧㄠ iao
yan [jɛn]
ㄧㄢ ian
yang [jaŋ]
ㄧㄤ iang
ye [je]
ㄧㄝ ie
you [jou]
ㄧㄡ iu
in [in]
ㄧㄣ in
ing [iŋ]
ㄧㄥ ing
i [i]
u wa [wa]
ㄨㄚ ua
wai [wai]
ㄨㄞ uai
wan [wan]
ㄨㄢ uan
wang [waŋ]
ㄨㄤ uang
wo [wo]
ㄨㄛ uo
wei [wei]
ㄨㄟ ui
wun [wən]
ㄨㄣ un
ung [ʊŋ]
ㄨㄥ ong
u [u]
y ywan [ɥɛn]
ㄩㄢ üan
ywe [ɥe]
ㄩㄝ üe
yun [yn]
ㄩㄣ ün
yung [jʊŋ]
ㄩㄥ iong
yu [y]

Syllables with syllabic fricatives are spelled jr ( zhi), chr ( chi), shr ( shi), r ( ri), dz ( zi), tsz ( ci), sz ( si), suggesting approximate pronunciations to English speakers.[7] In pinyin, these are all spelled -i. For example, "knowledge" (知識) is spelled chih-shih in Wade–Giles and zhishi in pinyin, but in Yale romanization it is written jr-shr—only the last will elicit a near-correct pronunciation from an unprepared English speaker.

Tones edit

Tone was marked using diacritics, the shape of which suggested the corresponding pitch contour: ā (high level), á (rising), ǎ (falling-rising) and à (falling).[8] The same method was adopted by pinyin.

The dash (-) is used to separate syllables ending in -n or -g from syllables starting with a or e: Cháng-ān.[9]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Dictionary of Spoken Chinese. War Department Technical Manual TM 30-933. War Department. 1945. pp. 1, 8. (also Dictionary of Spoken Chinese at the HathiTrust Digital Library)
  2. ^ Tewksbury, M. Gardner (1948). Speak Chinese. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. vii.
  3. ^ Fenn, Henry C.; Tewksbury, M. Gardner (1967). Speak Mandarin. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. xi. ISBN 0-300-00453-2.
  4. ^ a b Fenn and Tewksbury (1967), p. xii.
  5. ^ Wiedenhof, Jeroen (Leiden University) (2004). "Purpose and effect in the transcription of Mandarin" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Conference on Chinese Studies 2004 (漢學研究國際學術研討會論文集). National Yunlin University of Science and Technology. pp. 387–402. ISBN 9860040117. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2009-07-18. In the Cold War era, the use of this system outside China was typically regarded as a political statement, or a deliberate identification with the Chinese communist regime. (p390)
  6. ^ Chung, Karen Steffen (2016). "Wade-Giles romanization system". In Chan, Sin-wai (ed.). The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language. Routledge. pp. 756–776. ISBN 978-0-415-53970-8. pp. 768–769.
  7. ^ a b Fenn and Tewksbury (1967), p. xiii.
  8. ^ Fenn and Tewksbury (1967), p. xiv.
  9. ^ Yale University Institute of Far Eastern Languages (1966). Dictionary of Spoken Chinese. Yale University Press. p. 952

External links edit