Full Text

Chinese transliteration

Subject Linguistics

Place Eastern Asia » China

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


In Chinese writing, non-Chinese proper names have to be transliterated using Chinese characters. Since every Chinese syllable can be represented by a multiplicity of Chinese characters, a selection must be made for the use of certain characters rather than others for certain syllables. Transliterating non-Chinese proper names into Chinese hence involves two steps: (1) choosing a string of Chinese syllables that approximate the sound of the original name; and (2) assigning those syllables Chinese characters. Since both steps allow for many different options, a convention must be established. The Chinese standard list of transliteration characters which is used in mainland China is given in table 3 . No comparable list exists in Taiwan or Hong Kong, but transliterations there differ significantly from those practised on the mainland, as illustrated with some examples in table 4 . Reading Lou 1992. Table 3 Transliteration chart for writing foreign proper names in Chinese characters. Top row represents syllable onsets and left column vocalic rhyme. Resulting matrix contains characters for basic Chinese syllables without tones. Alternative characters are given in parentheses Table 4 Transliteration of foreign proper names in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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