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The Wade-Giles system ( IPA : weɪd dʒaɪlz ; chinese  威氏拼 , Pinyin WEISHI Pinyin , W.-G. Wei 1 -Shih 4 P'in 1 -Yin 1 , zhuyin ㄨ ㄟ 'ㄕ' ㄆ ㄧ ㄣ ㄧ ㄣ ) for the phonetic transcription of Chinese characters or language in Latin script goes back to Thomas Wade (1818–1895) and Herbert A. Giles (1845–1935). Thomas Wade was Cambridge's first professor of Chinese and Herbert A. Giles was his direct successor. Wade had developed a system of Latinization, which was used and completed by Giles in his lexicon for Chinese characters in the pronunciation of Beijing in 1912.

The system was published in Robert H. Matthews (1877-1970) Chinese-English Dictionary , and was further completed in Shanghai in 1931 . Various experts have developed their own systems based on this system, all of which operate under the name “Wade-Giles”. For example, the Harvard-Yenching Institute system differs from Matthew's system and from the system officially used in Taiwan . The system that is used as the Wade-Giles system in Morohashi Tetsuji's Sino-Japanese lexicon is again different by nuances.

Until around the 1970s, Wade-Giles was the most common romanization internationally. Today the Pinyin inscription (ISO standard since 1982) has largely replaced Wade-Giles.

Differences from pinyin

The following tables list the differences to pinyin. Only those initial and final sounds as well as single syllables that are transcribed differently are listed. It should be noted that in Pinyin after j, q, x, y the points on the ü are omitted.

Initial sounds

W.-G. Pinyin comment
k G
k ' k
p b
p ' p
t d
t ' t
ts z W.-G. tzu is in pinyin zi
ts' c W.-G. tz'u is in pinyin ci
ch zh except before i and ü , also before ih
j before i and ü
ch ' ch except before i and ü , also before ih
q before i and ü
hs x
j r


W.-G. Pinyin comment
-ey, yeh -ie, ye
-ien, yen -ian, yan
-üeh, yüeh -üe, yue pinyin -ue after j, q, x
-O -e after k / g, k '/ k and h
-uo after t / d, t '/ t, n, l, ch / zh, ch' / ch, sh, j / r, ts / z, ts' / c, s
-O after p / b, p '/ p, m, f, w, y
-ung -ong
-iung, yung -iong, yong
-ih -i the “pressed” vowel after ch / zh, ch '/ ch, j / r and sh

In some variants of Wade-Giles the gliding sound u is written as w , e.g. B. hwang instead of huang .

Special cases for single syllables

W.-G. Pinyin comment
received he
i yi
ê, o e
yu you pinyin yu corresponds to W.-G.
huei hui
kuei, k'uei gui, kui
tzu, tz'u, ssu zi, ci, si

Identification of the syllable border

To mark the delimitation of the syllables, Wade-Giles uses a hyphen (e.g .: Ch'ang-an , T'ai-wan ); Pinyin, on the other hand, uses an apostrophe as a syllable separator and this only before a, e, o , where it is necessary to avoid ambiguity (e.g. Chang'an , but: Taiwan ).

Identification of the tones

By default, Pinyin uses diacritical marks as tone markers on the vowel for the four tones of standard Chinese (mā, má, mǎ, mà). The Wade-Giles system, on the other hand, uses digits: ma 1 , ma 2 , ma 3 , ma 4 .

In practice

A practical problem with the Wade-Giles system is the apostrophe ' . This character is often ignored outside of academic publications, which can lead to misunderstandings in pronunciation. Since the apostrophe to differentiate between an aspirated and an unaspirated consonant (e.g. pinyin g and k ) occurs very frequently, this problem is very great. The Guting subway station ( 古亭站 , Gǔtíng Zhàn , Ku 3 t'ing 2 Chan 4 ) of the MRT in Taipei was signposted as Kuting before the switch to Pinyin . However, since the reader cannot be sure in which cases the non-apostrophe spelling is correct and in which cases it is incorrect, it is not possible to infer the exact pronunciation. He has the following four options (in pinyin): Guting , Kuting , Guding and Kuding .

Another ambiguity arises if the points above the ü are left out: Distinctions such as chun ↔ chün or ch'u ↔ ch'ü then disappear . This problem also exists in Pinyin, but there only in two cases: nu ↔ nü and lu ↔ lü .

See also


  • Endymion Wilkinson: Chinese History: A Manual. Harvard-Yenching Institute monographs No. 52, Harvard University Asia Center, Cambridge (Massachusetts) / London 2000.

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