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Romanized Chinese Orthography

posted 21 Jan 2014, 16:05 by Jim Sheng

The Jesuit or Roman Catholic liturgy was written in literary Chinese or "court Mandarin" (gǔ Wén). This literary style was not understand by common people. 

In expressing the sounds of Chinese names, James Legge followed the orthography of Morrison and Medhurst. In Morrison's A Dictionary of the Chinese Language, he followed the Jesuit method of representing the five tones of Mandarin Chinese, while Medhurst determined his own system of tonal marks, and nasal pronunciation (ng) and stop-ends (-h, k, p, t)( ' ) in his Dictionary of Hok-keen Dialect of Chinese Language, According to the Reading and Colloquial Idioms. His work relied on two Chinese compilations: the Imperial Dictionary (Kangxi dictionary) and a Southern Min rhyme glossary, entitled Collection of Refined and Vulgar Popular Fifteen Sounds.

Then it's Sir Thomas Francis Wade, his The Peking Syllabary was a collection of the characters representing the dialect of Peking; arranged after a new orthography in syllabic classes, according to the four tones. Designed to accompany the Hsin Ching Lu, or Book of Experiments, (Hong Kong), 1859. 

This syllabary was later amended, extended and converted into the Wade-Giles romanization for Mandarin Chinese by Herbert Giles in 1892. Thomas' Chinese name was Wei Tuoma (威妥瑪).

Wenzhounese romanisation

posted 21 Dec 2013, 15:45 by Jim Sheng

This article mainly deals with the Pinyin system by Shen K'echeng and his son Shen Jia (沈克成, 沈嘉): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wenzhounese_romanisation

溫州話羅馬字传教士苏慧廉(W. E. Soothill)与汤壁垣、任铭东一起设计。

Has Wang T'ai not legs, no feet, or just no toes?

posted 21 Nov 2013, 16:50 by Jim Sheng

There is not question that Wang Thâi (or Wang T'ai) is a cripple, but is he a person without two feet, or who has just one leg, or whose toes were cut off?

James Legge translated the first sentence of Chapter V of Chuang Tzu as "In Lû there was a Wang Thâi who had lost both his feet."  

But Herbert A. Giles translated this sentence as "In the State of Lu there was a man, named Wang T'ai, who had had his toes cut off."

The whole feet or just his toes? Was it cut off by himself or the result of punishment for a criminal act? According K'ang Hsi dictionary, Wu "兀" is a phonetic loan character of Yue "刖", which means a kind of punishement by cutting feet off.

We may find internal evidence from the next paragraph, "He looks on the loss of his feet as only the loss of so much earth." Here the text uses Chu "足" instead of Chi "趾", toes. We have no doubt of the meaning of Chu "足". It seem the translation "lost his feet" is more accurate than "had his toes cut off".

Another cripple called Shän-tû Kîa, he said, "There are many with their feet entire who laugh at me because I have lost my feet, which makes me feel vexed and angry." Here we also have no doubt that he was talking about his feet instead of toes. 

But why did H. A. Giles translated Wu Che “兀者” as person without toes? We may find also internal evidence for it. There is another man of the Lu State who was also a cripple, his name was "Shu Shan No-toes". 


Four tones of Chinese Mandarin

posted 7 Nov 2013, 04:46 by Jim Sheng   [ updated 21 Jan 2014, 15:58 ]

Four tones of Chinese Mandarin:

Macron ( ˉ ):
In Pinyin, the official Romanization of Mandarin Chinese, macrons over a, e, i, o, u, ü (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, ǖ) indicate the high level tone of Mandarin Chinese. The alternative to the macron is the number 1 after the syllable (for example, tā = ta1).

Acute Accent ( ´ )
The Pinyin romanization for Mandarin Chinese, the acute accent indicates a rising tone. The alternative to the 

Caron ( ˇ ) :
The caron indicates the third tone (falling and then rising) in the Pinyin romanization of Mandarin Chinese. It looks similar to a breve, but has a sharp tip, like an inverted circumflex (ˆ). The alternative to the caron is the numberal 3 after the syllable: bǎ = ba3

grave Accent ( ` )
The grave accent is used to indicate a falling tone. The alternative to the grave accent in Mandarin is the numeral 4 after the syllable: pà = pa4.

A non-IPA letter ⟨ȵ⟩

posted 16 Oct 2013, 10:44 by Jim Sheng


The alveolo-palatal nasal ȵ, which is widely used in sinological circle,  is a non-standard IPA letter. 

中古泥母一般舌面化,读ȵ。吴语ȵy ȵiŋ。

汉语拼音zi, ci, si和zhi, chi,shi国际音标

posted 19 Sep 2013, 03:31 by Jim Sheng

这个音归属于“非标准”国际音标一类。

ɿ reversed fishhook R / turned iota,  it's a high back unrounded vowel, with frication from the preceding consonant, used by Sinologists, and by Japanologists studying the phonology of the Miyako language.

ɿ 形状上象倒鱼钩R,或者第九个希腊字母Iota的翻转。这是一个后高不圆唇元音,受前面的声母影响,发音时带有摩擦。汉学家用这个音标记录汉语,日本学家用来研究宫古岛(Miyako)语言的音系。

这个音可以用国际音标[ ͡ɯ]替代。普通话shi和si可以用近似的国际音标[ʂ͡ɨ] 和 [s͡ɯ]代替。

That is, shi and si would be narrowly transcribed [ʂ͡ɨ] and [s͡ɯ]. Kwan-hin Cheung, 1992. "北京話 '知' '資' 二韻國際音標寫法商榷" [IPA transcription of the so-called 'apical vowels' in Pekinese], in T. Lee, ed., Research on Chinese Linguistics in Hong Kong, Linguistic Society of Hong Kong.

A Chinese Year

posted 28 Apr 2013, 03:59 by Jim Sheng

When you ask about age of a Chinese baby, you will often be told that a child, evidently not more than six months, is two years old. This is the Eastern mode of speaking of time which is quite different from the western. 

For example, if a child has been born twoards the end of the previous year, that it had lived in two years, and was therefore spoken of as two years old.

Similarly, the mouning for a parent is said to last for three years, the western reader is not to suppose that it continues to the end of that time, but simply that it extends into the third year. Virtually it terminates with the twenty-fifth month, and positively with the twenty-seventh.

So it is not so complicated and confusing as you think to calculate your Chinese age. You are 1-year-old when you are born, and add one more year after each Chinese New Year. If you born on Chinese New Year Eve before midnight, you are 2-year-old next morning!

Most of us can use this equation to calculate your Chinese age:

Y1 - Y2 +1 = CA

* CA = Chinese Age

* Y1 = Current year

* Y2 = the year you were born

(James Legge, The Sacred Books Of The East, VXXVII, Introduction, p.49)

Cyrillic З in Legge's Alphabets

posted 23 Apr 2013, 17:43 by Jim Sheng   [ updated 28 Apr 2013, 14:20 ]

In J. Legges's translation of Sacred Books of East, he adopted Transliteration of Oriental Alphabets, one of the alphabets is the Cyrillic/Fraktur letter 3. He categorized this letter under "Spiritus asperrimus", and the letter has other two combinations, 3h, 3z.

In Cyrillic language, this letter represents the voiced alveolar fricative /z/, like the pronunciation of ⟨z⟩ in "zoo"(Wiki). But in Legge's transliteration, it represents several Chinese consonants: 

Comparing words in the Legge system with same words in Wade-Giles shows, that  3 could be:

a. Affricate unaspirated voiceless alveolar: ts, for example, Lî Kî Book X, Nêi 3eh, or
b. Affricate unaspirated voiceless alveolar-palatal: tɕ, for example, Yi-king hexagram No. 48, 3ing, and No.63-64 Kî 3î and Wei .

To render this as Cyrillic letter in Latex, I install texlive-lang-cyrillic package, and use these preambles:

\usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc} % set input encoding (not needed with XeLaTeX)

\usepackage[T2A]{fontenc} % enable Cyrillic fonts


If you render this as Fraktur  letter, which is the true form in Legge's book, you have to install texlive-fonts-extra, and the yfonts package if one of them. Then you put \usepackage{yfonts}[1998/10/03] in the preamble, and may use \textfrak{Z} for uppercase, and \textfrak{z} for lowercase.



Legge romanization

posted 23 Apr 2013, 02:53 by Jim Sheng

Gutturales

Tenuis K
Tenuis aspirata kh
Spiritus asper h hs

Here hs is a mistake, this consonant should belong to Gutturales Modificatae (palatales, &c.)

Gutturales Modificatae


Tenuis K
Tenuis aspirata Kh
Semivocalis y
Spiritus lenis assibilatus z

Legge use Italic k and kh to represent palatalization, and Italic z for spiritus lenis assibilatus

Dentales


Tenuis t
Tenuis aspirata th
Nasalis n
Semivocalis l
Spiritus asper s
Spiritus lenis z
Spiritus asperrimus 3, 3h

Dentales modificatae (linguiales, &c.)


Semivocalis fricata r
Spiritus asper sh

Labiales


Tenuis p
Tenuis aspirata ph
Nasalis m
Spiritus asper f
semivocalis w

Vowels

Neutralis ă
Gutturalis brevis a
Palatalis brevis â
Palatalis brevis i
Palatalis longa î
Labialis brevis u
Labialis longa û
Gutturo-palatalis brevis e
gutturo palatalis longa ê
Diphthongus gutturo-palatalis âi, ei, êi 
Gutturo-labialis brevis o
Diphthongus gutturo-babialis âu
Labialis fracta ü

There are three others used in his text, but not listed in his "Transliteration of oriental Alphabets" table:
eh, ih, âo







Converting PDF to Kindle

posted 14 Apr 2013, 19:07 by Jim Sheng

We can find many Chinese Classics on Archive.org website, you can download Kindle format, PDF format or other format from this website, but Kindle version lost many symbols and Chinese characters, while PDF just can't be fit into a 6-inch screen.

There is a very nice tool called K2pdfopt, it can convert PDF or DJVU file to be read on your Kindle E-Reader.

I tried James Legge's The Book of Rites, it conserves all symbols and Chinese characters in the Notes. Though the lines are jagged, still nice to read.


The picture below shows how the program preserves the Chinese character in the notes:

This conversion preserves the original scanned copy in maximum extent, and improves reading experience on a 6-inches screen.

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