Gwoyeu Romatzyh (pinyin: Guóyǔ luómǎzì, literally "National Language
Language Romanization"), abbreviated GR, is a system for writing Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese in the Latin alphabet. The system was conceived by Yuen Ren Chao
Yuen Ren Chao and developed by a group of linguists including Chao and Lin Yutang
Lin Yutang from 1925 to 1926. Chao himself later published influential works in linguistics using GR. In addition a small number of other textbooks and dictionaries in GR were published in Hong Kong
Hong Kong and overseas from 1942 to 2000.
GR is the better known of the two romanization systems which indicate
the four tones of Mandarin by varying the spelling of syllables
("tonal spelling"). These tones are as fundamental to the Chinese
language as vowels are to English; their presence lets speakers
discriminate between otherwise identical syllables and words. Other
systems indicate the tones with either diacritics (for example Pinyin:
āi, ái, ǎi and ài) or numbers (Wade–Giles: ai1, ai2, etc.). GR
spells the four tones of the same vowel, ai, air, ae and ay. These
spellings, which follow specific rules, indicate the tones while
retaining the pronunciation of the syllable ai.
Chao claimed that, because GR embeds the tone of each syllable in its
spelling, it may help students to master Chinese tones. One study
of GR, however, found the opposite to be true. GR uses a
complicated system of tonal spelling that obscures the basic
relationship between spelling and tone; for example, the difference
between tones 1 and 2 is variously indicated as mha vs. ma, ching vs.
chyng, chang vs. charng, etc. Although tonal spelling has been adopted
as part of the normal romanization of a number of Asian languages
(e.g. Hmong), all such systems indicate different tones in a simple
and consistent fashion by adding letters to the end of a syllable
(e.g. in Hmong, -b indicates high tone, -s indicates low tone, -j
indicates high-falling tone, etc.).
In 1928 China adopted GR as the nation's official romanization
system. GR was used to indicate pronunciations in dictionaries of
the National (Mandarin-based) Language. Its proponents hoped one day
to establish it as a writing system for a reformed Chinese script. But
despite support from a small number of trained linguists in China and
overseas, GR met with public indifference and even hostility due to
its complexity. Another obstacle preventing its widespread adoption
was its narrow basis on the Beijing dialect, in a period lacking a
strong centralized government to enforce its use. Eventually GR lost
1 History 2 Description
2.1 Basic forms (Tone 1) 2.2 Tonal modifications
3 Compounds as words
4 Use in published texts
Lin Yutang, who first proposed tonal spelling
Tonal spelling, Gwoyeu Romatzyh's most distinctive feature, was first suggested to Y.R. Chao by Lin Yutang. By 1922 Chao had already established the main principles of GR. The details of the system were developed in 1925–1926 by a group of five linguists, led by Chao and including Lin, under the auspices of the Preparatory Commission for the Unification of the National Language. In 1928 GR was officially adopted by the government. GR was intended to be used alongside the existing Juhin (Zhùyīn) phonetic symbols: hence the alternative name for GR, "Second Pattern of the National Alphabet." Both systems were used to indicate the revised standard of pronunciation in the new official Vocabulary of National Pronunciation for Everyday Use of 1932. The designers of GR had greater ambitions: their aim was complete reform of the script, using GR as a practical system of writing.
Yuen Ren Chao, the chief designer of GR, as a young man (c. 1916)
In the 1930s two shortlived attempts were made to teach GR to railway
workers and peasants in Hénán and Shāndōng provinces. Support
for GR, being confined to a small number of trained linguists and
Sinologists, "was distinguished more for its quality than its
quantity." During this period GR faced increasing hostility
because of the complexity of its tonal spelling. Conversely,
Note: In this section the word "tone" is abbreviated as "T": thus T1
stands for Tone 1 (first tone), etc. To assist readers unfamiliar with
Basic forms (Tone 1)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering
support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead
An important GR innovation, later adopted by Pinyin, was to use
contrasting unvoiced/voiced pairs of consonants from Latin to
represent aspirated and unaspirated sounds in Chinese. For example
b and p represent /p/ and /pʰ/ (p and p‘ in Wade). Another
distinctive feature of GR is the use of j, ch, and sh to represent two
different series of sounds. When followed by i these letters
correspond to the alveolo-palatal sounds (
iu represents the close front rounded vowel /y/ spelled ü or in many
cases simply u in Pinyin.
Final -y represents the [ɨ] allophone of i: GR shy and sy correspond
Tonal modifications By default, the basic GR spelling described above is used for Tone1 syllables. The basic form is then modified to indicate tones 2, 3 and 4. This is accomplished in one of three ways:
either a vowel is changed to another vowel resembling it in sound (i to y, for example, or u to w) or a letter is doubled or a silent letter (r or h) is added after the vowel.
Wherever possible the concise first method is used. The following rules of thumb cover most cases. Tone 1 (basic form)
shiue, chuan, chang, hai, bau (xuē, chuān, chāng, hāi, bāo)
Tone 2: i/u → y/w; or add -r
shyue, chwan, charng, hair, baur (xué, chuán, cháng, hái, báo)
Tone 3: i/u → e/o; or double vowel
sheue, choan, chaang, hae, bao (xuě, chuǎn, chǎng, hǎi, bǎo)
Tone 4: change/double final letter; or add -h
shiueh, chuann, chanq, hay, baw (xuè, chuàn, chàng, hài, bào)
Neutral tone: precede with a dot (full stop)
perng.yeou, dih.fang (péngyou, dìfang).
Exception Syllables with an initial sonorant (l-/m-/n-/r-) use the basic form for T2 rather than T1. In these syllables the (rarer) T1 is marked with -h- as the second letter. For example mha is T1 (mā), whereas ma is T2 (má). T3 and T4 are regular: maa (mǎ) and mah (mà). Compounds as words An important principle of GR is that syllables which form words should be written together. This strikes speakers of European languages as obvious; but in Chinese the concept of "word" is not easy to pin down. The basic unit of speech is popularly thought to be the monosyllable represented by a character (字 tzyh, zì), which in most cases represents a meaningful syllable or morpheme, a smaller unit than the "linguistic word". Characters are written and printed with no spaces between words; yet in practice most Chinese words consist of two-syllable compounds, and it was Chao's bold innovation in 1922 to reflect this in GR orthography by grouping the appropriate syllables together into words. This represented a radical departure from hyphenated Wade–Giles forms such as Kuo2-yü3 Lo2-ma3-tzu4 (the Wade spelling of GR). Use in published texts Chao used GR in four influential works:
Concise Dictionary of Spoken Chinese
This course was originally used in the Army Specialized Training Program at the Harvard School for Overseas Administration in 1943–1944 and subsequently in civilian courses.
A Grammar of Spoken Chinese (1968a)
Readings in Sayable Chinese (1968b) [Extract]
"Sayable" in this context means colloquial, as opposed to the
vernacular Chinese (bairhuah,
Readings in Sayable Chinese was written "to supply the advanced
student of spoken Chinese with reading matter which he can actually
use in his speech." It consists of three volumes of Chinese text
with facing GR romanization. They contain some lively recorded
dialogues, "Fragments of an autobiography," two plays and a
translation of Lewis Carroll's
Through the Looking-Glass
“ [GR] makes the spelling more complicated, but gives an individuality to the physiognomy of words, with which it is possible to associate meaning ... [A]s an instrument of teaching, tonal spelling has proved in practice to be a most powerful aid in enabling the student to grasp the material with precision and clearness. ”
For example, it may be easier to memorize the difference between GR
Beeijing (the city) and beyjiing ("background") than the Pinyin
versions Běijīng and bèijǐng, where the tones seem to be almost an
afterthought. One study conducted at the
University of Oregon
Writing system Text
Gwoyeu Romatzyh "Hannshyue" .de mingcheng duey Jonggwo yeou idean butzuenjinq .de yihwey. Woo.men tingshuo yeou "Yinnduhshyue", "Aijyishyue", "Hannshyue", erl meiyeou tingshuo yeou "Shilahshyue", "Luomaashyue", genq meiyeou tingshuo yeou "Inggwoshyue", "Meeigwoshyue". "Hannshyue" jeyg mingcheng wanchyuan beaushyh Ou-Meei shyuejee duey nahshie yiijing chernluen de guulao-gwojia de wenhuah de i-joong chingkann de tayduh.
GR tone key Tone 1 (basic form: unmarked) Tone 2 Tone 3 Tone 4
Simplified Chinese characters 汉学的名称对中国有一点不尊敬的意味。我们听说有印度学、埃及学、汉学，而没有听说有希腊学、罗马学，更没有听说有英国学、美国学。汉学这个名称完全表示欧美学者对那些已经沉沦的古老国家的文化的一种轻看的态度。
Traditional Chinese characters 漢學的名稱對中國有一點不尊敬的意味。我們聽說有印度學、埃及學、漢學，而沒有聽說有希臘學、羅馬學，更沒有聽說有英國學、美國學。漢學這個名稱完全表示歐美學者對那些已經沉淪的古老國家的文化的一種輕看的態度。
Bopomofo ㄏㄢˋ ㄒㄩㄝˊ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄔㄥ ㄉㄨㄟˋ ㄓㄨㄥ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄧˋ ㄉㄧㄢˇ ㄅㄨˋ ㄗㄨㄣ ㄐㄧㄥˋ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄧˋ ㄨㄟˋ。 ㄨㄛˇ ㄇㄣ˙ ㄊㄧㄥ ㄕㄨㄛ ㄧㄡˇ ㄧㄣˋ ㄉㄨˋ ㄒㄩㄝˊ、 ㄞ ㄐㄧˊ ㄒㄩㄝˊ、 ㄏㄢˋ ㄒㄩㄝˊ， ㄦˊ ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄊㄧㄥ ㄕㄨㄛ ㄧㄡˇ ㄒㄧ ㄌㄚˋ ㄒㄩㄝˊ、 ㄌㄨㄛˊ ㄇㄚˇ ㄒㄩㄝˊ， ㄍㄥˋ ㄇㄟˊ ㄧㄡˇ ㄊㄧㄥ ㄕㄨㄛ ㄧㄡˇ ㄧㄥ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄒㄩㄝˊ、 ㄇㄟˇ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄒㄩㄝˊ。 ㄏㄢˋ ㄒㄩㄝˊ ㄓㄜˋ ㄍㄜ˙ ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄔㄥ ㄨㄢˊ ㄑㄩㄢˊ ㄅㄧㄠˇ ㄕˋ ㄡ ㄇㄟˇ ㄒㄩㄝˊ ㄓㄜˇ ㄉㄨㄟˋ ㄋㄚˋ ㄒㄧㄝ ㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄥ ㄔㄣˊ ㄌㄨㄣˊ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄍㄨˇ ㄌㄠˇ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄐㄧㄚ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄨㄣˊ ㄏㄨㄚˋ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄧˋ ㄓㄨㄥˇ ㄑㄧㄥ ㄎㄢˋ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄊㄞˋ ㄉㄨˋ。
Hanyu Pinyin "Hànxué" de míngchēng duì Zhōngguó yǒu yìdiǎn bùzūnjìng de yìwèi. Wǒmen tīngshuō yǒu "Yìndùxué," "Āijíxué," "Hànxué," ér méiyǒu tīngshuō yǒu "Xīlàxué," "Luómǎxué," gèng méiyǒu tīngshuō yǒu "Yīngguóxué," "Měiguóxué." "Hànxué" zhège míngchēng wánquán biǎoshì Ōu-Měi xuézhě duì nàxiē yǐjīng chénlún de gǔlǎo-guójiā de wénhuà de yìzhǒng qīngkàn de tàidù.
English translation The term "Sinology" carries a slight overtone of disrespect towards China. One hears of "Indology," "Egyptology" and "Sinology," but never "Grecology" or "Romology"—let alone "Anglology" or "Americology." The term "Sinology" epitomizes European and American scholars' patronizing attitude towards the culture of those ruined ancient empires.
Spelling in Gwoyeu Romatzyh
Latinxua Sin Wenz Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II Postal romanization Tongyong Pinyin Wade–Giles Yale romanization Lessing-Othmer Legge romanization Simplified Wade Comparison chart
Sichuanese Pinyin Scuanxua Ladinxua Xin Wenz
Taiwanese, Amoy and related
Pe̍h-ōe-jī Modern Literal Taiwanese Phofsit Daibuun Bbánlám pìngyīm Daighi tongiong pingim TLPA Tâi-lô Comparison chart
Kienning Colloquial Romanized
General Chinese Cyrillization Xiao'erjing 'Phags-pa script Bopomofo Taiwanese kana Taiwanese Phonetic Symbols Mongolian transliteration of Chinese characters Manchu transliteration Transcription into Chinese
v t e
^ simplified Chinese: 国语罗马字; traditional Chinese:
國語羅馬字; pinyin: Guóyǔ Luómǎzì. In 1937 the sinologist
Trittel coined the German translation "Lateinumschrift der
Reichssprache" (DeFrancis: Ch 4, footnote 4).
^ The only other romanization system to utilize tonal spelling is
Simplified Wade, a modified form of
Wade–Giles devised by Swedish
linguist Olov Bertil Anderson.
^ "A word pronounced in a wrong tone or inaccurate tone sounds as
puzzling as if one said bud in English, meaning 'not good' or 'the
thing one sleeps in.'" Chao(1948):24.
^ In these examples air (ái) with a rising tone means "cancer", while
ay (ài) with a falling tone means "love".
^ "The common [foreign] attitude of treating the tone as an
epiphenomenon on top of the solid sounds—consonants and vowels—is
to the Chinese mind quite unintelligible..." Chao and Yang(1947):xv.
^ "The results clearly indicated that GR did not lead to significantly
greater accuracy in tonal production. Indeed, the use of GR reflected
slightly lower rates of tonal production accuracy for native speakers
of both American English and Japanese." McGinnis(1997).
^ a b Kratochvíl(1968):169
^ For a detailed account of the historical background, see John
DeFrancis. "Chapter 4 of DeFrancis(1950)". pinyin.info. Retrieved
^ "Without disclaiming responsibility, as a very active member of the
Committee on Unification, for the merits and defects of the system, I
must give credit to my colleague
Chao, Yuen Ren (1948). Mandarin Primer: an Intensive Course in Spoken
"Chapter 4 of DeFrancis (1950)". Retrieved 2007-02-27.
"A short course (10 pages)". Retrieved 2007-03-31.
"GR Junction". Retrieved 2007-03-31.
"A Guide to
Preceded by none Official romanization adopted by the People's Republic of China 1949-1958 Succeeded by Hanyu Pinyin
Preceded by none Official romanization adopted by the Republic of China 1928-1986 Succeeded by Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II
v t e
Dictionaries of Chinese
Character dictionaries (字典 Zìdiǎn)
Shizhoupian Cangjiepian Jijiupian Fangyan Shuowen Jiezi Shiming Zilin Ganlu Zishu Longkan Shoujian Zitong Leipian Kangxi Dictionary Zhonghua Da Zidian Xinhua Zidian Hanyu Da Zidian Zhonghua Zihai
Word dictionaries (詞典 Cídiǎn)
Erya Xiao Erya Guangya Ziyuan Yupian Jingdian Shiwen Yiqiejing Yinyi (Xuanying) Yiqiejing Yinyi (Huilin) Piya Zihui Zhengzitong Ciyuan Zhongguo Renming Dacidian Cihai Zhongwen Da Cidian Xiandai Hanyu Cidian Hanyu Da Cidian Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects
Rime dictionaries (韻書 Yùnshū)
Shenglei Qieyun Tangyun Yunhai jingyuan Guangyun Jiyun Yunjing Qiyin lüe Menggu Ziyun Zhongyuan Yinyun Qi Lin Bayin Peiwen Yunfu
Character dictionaries (字典 Zìdiǎn)
Grammata Serica Recensa The Five Thousand Dictionary Concise Dictionary of Spoken Chinese
Word dictionaries (詞典 Cídiǎn)
Pearl in the Palm
List of Chinese