Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The T/Daos shall meet: The failure and success of English transliterations of Mandarin Chinese: English transliterations of Mandarin are often inconsistent, but is there even such a thing as a single Mandarin language?

  • Sophie Zhou
Extract

When a Canadian exchange student returns home from a semester abroad in the capital city of China, she might tell her friends that she had Peking duck every day, but she would never, as a 21st-century liberal arts student, say that she stayed in Peking for a semester. Rather, she would say Beijing, as would most English speakers in the present day. But such discrepancies between English transliterations of Chinese words are far from uncommon. Is it the Nanking Massacre or the Nanjing Massacre? Who is the author of Tao Te Ching: Lao-Tzu or Laozi? What, then, is the Daodejing? This paper will focus on the English representation of Mandarin Chinese phonology, particularly the consonant sounds. The inconsistency of English transliteration of Mandarin is caused by historical exchanges and encounters between the British and the Chinese and a lack of a monolithic standardization of Mandarin. Paradoxically, while these transliterations attempt to unify and standardize themselves and the representation of Mandarin sounds, they simultaneously represent the concept of a diverse Mandarin.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Addiss, S. & Lombardo, S. (trans). 1993. Tao Te Ching. Boston: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
Bahm, A. J. 1958. ‘About the author and his work.’ In Lao Tzu, Tao Teh King. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.
Chappell, H. 1980. ‘The romanization debate.’ The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, 4, 105118.
Chen, P. 1999. Modern Chinese: Its History and Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dartmouth.edu. 2003a. ‘Map 3: Mandarin and Southern Chinese split.’ Online at <http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chinese/maps/map3.html> (Accessed November 15, 2015).
Dartmouth.edu. 2003b. ‘Map 4: Dialects of Mandarin and Southern Chinese.’ Online at <http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chinese/maps/map4.html> (Accessed November 15, 2015).
En.oxforddictionaries.com . n.d. ‘chi.’ Online at <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/chi> (Accessed November 14, 2015).
En.oxforddictionaries.com . n.d. ‘tao.’ Online at <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/tao> (Accessed November 14, 2015).
Gu, Y. 2006. ‘Chinese.’ In Brown, K. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 343350.
Kaske, E. 2008. The Politics of Language in Chinese Education, 1895–1919. Leiden: Brill.
Mair, V. H. 1991. ‘What Is a Chinese “dialect/topolect”? Reflections on some key Sino-English linguistic terms.’ Sino-Platonic Papers, 29, 131.
Merriam-Webster.com . 2015. ‘chi, n.’ Online at <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qi> (Accessed November 14, 2015).
Mundy, W. W. 1875. Canton and the Bogue: The Narrative of an Eventful Six Months in China. London: Samuel Tinsley.
Oxford English Dictionary . 2015. ‘qi, n.’ Online at <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/155609?rskey=TSbc1E&result=2&isAdvanced=false#eid> (Accessed November 14, 2015).
Oed.com . ‘tao, n.’ Online at <http://www.oed.com./view/Entry/197633?redirectedFrom=tao#eid> (Accessed November 14, 2015).
Tao, H. & Cole, C. 1991. ‘Wade-Giles or Pinyin: Practical issues in the transliteration of Chinese titles and proper names.’ Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 12(2), 105124.
Wiedenhof, J. 2004. ‘Purpose and effect in the transcription of Mandarin.’ In Lee, J. (ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference on Chinese Studies. Touliu: National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, pp. 387402.
Zhou, M. 2002. ‘The spread of Putonghua and language attitude changes in Shanghai and Guangzhou, China.’ Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 11(2), 231253.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 74
Total number of PDF views: 48 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 199 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 12th March 2018 - 19th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.