Postal Map Romanization
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Postal romanization was a system of transliterating Chinese place names developed by postal authorities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For many cities, the corresponding postal romanization was the most common English-language form of the city's name from the 1890s until the 1980s, when postal romanization was replaced by
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of la ...

pinyin
. In 1892,
Herbert Giles Herbert Allen Giles (, 8 December 184513 February 1935) was a British diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. I ...

Herbert Giles
created a romanization system called Nanking syllabary. The Imperial Maritime Customs Post Office would cancel postage with a stamp that gave the city of origin in Latin letters, often romanized using Giles's system. In 1896, the Customs Post was combined with other postal services and renamed the Chinese Imperial Post. As a national agency, the Imperial Post was an authority on Chinese place names. When the
Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying a ...
system of romanization became widespread, some argued that the post office should adopt it. This idea was rejected at a conference held in 1906 in
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a Mandarin Chinese#Subgrouping, dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua fra ...

Shanghai
. Instead, the conference formally adopted Nanking syllabary. This decision allowed the post office to continue to use various romanizations that it had already selected. Wade-Giles romanization is based on the
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
, a pronunciation standard since the 1850s. The use of Nanking syllabary did not suggest that the post office considered Nanjing pronunciation to be standard. Rather, it was an attempt to accommodate a variety of Mandarin pronunciations with a single romanization system.


Table of romanizations

Pronunciation key for postal: ''a'' as in father. ''ai'' as in ''aye''. ''e'' as in m''e''n or y''e''t. ê as in ''ea''rth. ''eh'' is short and abrupt. ''ei'' as in h''ei''ght. ''ew'' as in s''ou''ce. ''eul'' as in h''ul''l. ''i'' as in p''i''n. ''ia'' as in ''ya''rd. ''iao'' is ''i'' and ''ao'' together. ''ie'' as in the Italian word s''ei''sta. ''ieh'' same sound as ''ie'', but shorter. ''ih'' as in ch''i''ck. ''in'' as in p''in'' or ch''in''. ''ing'' as in k''ing'' or s''ing''. ''io'' as in ''yaw''n. ''ioh'' is short and abrupt. ''iu'' as in p''ew''. ''o'' as in l''o''ng. ''oh'' is short or abrupt. ''ow'' as in h''ow'', but longer. ''u'' as in t''oo''. ''ch'' as in church. ''chw'' as in chew. ''f'' as in ''f''at. ''h'' as in ''h''ang. ''hs'' as in ''sh''in. ''hw'' as in ''wh''at. ''j'' as in French ''j''amais. ''k'' as in ''k''ing. ''l'' as in ''l''amp. The spelling "Amoy" is based on pronunciation of
Xiamen Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minn ...

Xiamen
in
Amoy Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minn ...
Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucr ...
, the local language of
Xiamen (Amoy)
Xiamen (Amoy)
. "Peking" is carried over from the d'Anville map. In Nanking syllabary, the city is ''Pehking''. The irregular "oo" in "Soochow" is to distinguish this city from
Xuzhou Xuzhou (徐州), also known as Pengcheng (彭城) in ancient times, is a major city in northwestern Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; Postal romanization, formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal Provinces of the People's Republic of Ch ...
(Suchow) in northern Jiangsu. The other postal romanizations are based on "Southern Mandarin," an idealized form of
Nanjing dialect Nanjing dialect, also known as Nankinese, or Nanjing Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Nanjing Nanjing ( ), Postal Map Romanization, formerly romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu province of the China, People's ...
.
Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of la ...

Pinyin
spellings are based on ''
putonghua Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a brid ...
'', an idealization of
Beijing dialect The Beijing dialect (), also known as Pekingese, is the prestige dialect of Mandarin Chinese, Mandarin spoken in the urban area of Beijing, China. It is the phonological basis of Standard Chinese, the official language in the China, People's Repub ...
taught in the Chinese education system. After the
Chinese Nationalist Party The Kuomintang (KMT) () is a major political party in Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Ja ...
came to power in 1927, the capital was moved from Peking ("northern capital") to Nanking ("southern capital"). Peking was renamed "Peiping" ("northern peace").


History

The Customs Post, China's first government-run post office, opened to the public and began issuing postage stamps in 1878. This office was part of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service, led by Irishman Robert Hart. By 1882, the Customs Post had offices in twelve
Treaty Ports Treaty ports (; ja, 条約港) were the port cities in China and Japan that were opened to foreign trade mainly by the unequal treaties Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed between the Qing dynasty ...
:
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a Mandarin Chinese#Subgrouping, dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua fra ...

Shanghai
,
Amoy Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minn ...

Amoy
,
Chefoo Yantai, alternately known as Zhifu or Chefoo, is a coastal prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinc ...

Chefoo
,
Chinkiang Zhenjiang, alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and ...
,
Chungking Chongqing ( Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese, in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a Mandarin Chinese#Subgrouping, dialect of Mandarin that em ...
,
Foochow Fuzhou (; , Fuzhounese The Fuzhou dialect (, FR: ), also Foochow, Hokchew, Hok-chiu, or Fuzhounese, is the prestige variety of the Eastern Min branch of Min Chinese spoken mainly in the Mindong region of Eastern Fujian Province. Like m ...
,
Hankow Hankou, alternately romanized as Hankow (), was one of the three towns (the other two were Wuchang and Hanyang) merged to become modern-day Wuhan Wuhan (, ) is the capital of Hubei Province in the People's Republic of China China, o ...
, Ichang, Kewkiang,
Nanking Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanking
, Weihaiwei, and
Wuhu Wuhu () is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" (). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located ''already'' withi ...

Wuhu
. Local offices had postmarking equipment so mail was marked with a romanized form of the city's name. In addition, there were companies that provided local postal service in each of these cities. '' A Chinese-English Dictionary'' by Herbert Giles, published in 1892, popularized the Wade-Giles method of transliteration. This system had been created by
Thomas Francis Wade Sir Thomas Francis Wade, (25August 181831July 1895) was a British diplomat and sinologist who produced an early Chinese textbook in English, in 1867, that was later amended, extended and converted into the Wade-Giles romanization Romaniza ...

Thomas Francis Wade
in 1867. It is based on pronunciation in Beijing. Giles's dictionary also gives pronunciation in the dialects of various other cities, allowing the reader to create locally-based transliteration. From January 1893 to September 1896, local postal services issued postage stamps that featured the romanized name of the city they served using local pronunciation. An imperial edict issued in 1896 designated the Customs Post a national postal service and renamed it the Chinese Imperial Post. The local post offices in the Treaty Ports were incorporated into the new service. The Customs Post was smaller than other postal services in China, such as the British. As the Imperial Post, it grew rapidly and soon became the dominant player in the market. In 1899, Hart, as inspector general of posts, asked postmasters to submit romanizations for their districts. Although Hart asked for transliterations "according to the local pronunciation", most postmasters were reluctant to play lexicographer and simply looked up the relevant characters in a dictionary. The spellings that they submitted generally followed the Wade–Giles system, which was the standard method of transliteration at this time. The post office published a draft romanization map in 1903. Disappointed with the Wade-based map, Hart issued another directive in 1905. This one told postmasters to submit romanizations "not as directed by Wade, but according to accepted or usual local spellings." Local missionaries could be consulted, Hart suggested. However, Wade's system did reflect pronunciation in Mandarin-speaking areas. Théophile Piry, a long-time customs manager, was appointed postal secretary in 1901. Appointing a French national to the top position fulfilled an 1898 commitment by China to "take into account the recommendations of the French government" when selecting staff for the post office. Until 1911, the post office remained part of the Maritime Customs Service, which meant that Hart was Piry's boss.


1906 conference

To resolve the romanization issue, Piry organized an Imperial Postal Joint-Session Conference in Shanghai in the spring of 1906. This was a joint postal and telegraphic conference. The conference resolved that existing spellings would be retained for names already transliterated. Accents, apostrophes, and hyphens would be dropped to facilitate telegraphic transmission. The requirement for addresses to be given in Chinese characters was dropped. For new transliterations, local pronunciation would be followed in Guangdong as well as in parts of Guangxi and Fujian. In other areas, a system called Nanking syllabary would be used. Nanking syllabary is one of several transliteration systems presented by Giles to represent various local dialects. Nanjing had once been the capital and its dialect was, like that of Beijing, a pronunciation standard. But the decision to use Nanking syllabary was not intended to suggest that the post office recognized any specific dialect as standard. The Southern Mandarin dialect spoken in Nanjing makes more phonetic distinctions than other dialects. A romanization system geared to this dialect can be used to reflect pronunciation in a wider variety of dialects. Southern Mandarin is widely spoken in both
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal of the . It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, technology, and tourism, with its capital in . Jiangsu is the , but the and the of the 23 provinces of the Peopl ...

Jiangsu
and
Anhui Anhui (; as Anhwei) is a landlocked of the , part of the region. Its provincial capital and largest city is . The province is located across the basins of the and the , bordering to the east, to the southeast, to the south, to the southw ...

Anhui
provinces. In Giles' idealization, the speaker consistently makes various phonetic distinctions not made in Beijing dialect (or in the dialect of any other specific city). Giles created the system to encompass a range of dialects. For the French-led post office, an additional advantage of the system was that it allowed "the romanization of non-English speaking people to be met as far as possible," as Piry put it. That is to say, Piry considered the Wade-Giles system to be specific to English. Atlases explaining postal romanization were issued in 1907, 1919, 1933, and 1936. The ambiguous result of the 1906 conference led critics to complain that postal romanization was idiosyncratic. According to modern scholar Lane J. Harris:
What they have criticized is actually the very strength of postal romanization. That is, postal romanization accommodated local dialects and regional pronunciations by recognizing local identity and language as vital to a true representation of the varieties of Chinese orthoepy as evinced by the Post Office's repeated desire to transcribe according to "local pronunciation" or "provincial sound-equivalents".


Later developments

At the Conference for the Unification of Reading Pronunciation in 1913, the idea of a national language with a standardized transregional phonology was approved. A period of turmoil followed as President
Yuan Shikai Yuan Shikai (; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty, becoming the Emperor of the Empire of China (1915–1916). He tried to save the dynasty with a numb ...

Yuan Shikai
reversed course and attempted to restore the teaching of
Classical Chinese Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text"), is the language of the classic literature from the end ...
. Yuan died in 1916 and the Ministry of Education published a pronunciation standard now known as Old National Pronunciation for Guoyu in 1918. The post office reverted to Wade's system in 1920 and 1921. It was the era of the
May Fourth Movement The May Fourth Movement was a Chinese anti-imperialist Anti-imperialism in political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of pol ...
, when language reform was the rage. The post office adopted a dictionary by
William Edward SoothillWilliam Edward Soothill, (1861 – 1935) was a Methodist missionary to China who later became Professor of Chinese at University College, Oxford University College (in full The College of the Great Hall of the University of Oxford, colloqui ...
as a reference. The Soothill-Wade system was used for newly created offices. Existing post offices retained their romanizations. Critics described the Ministry's standard, now called Old National Pronunciation, as a mishmash of dialects, bookish, and reminiscent of previous dynasties. While drawing phonetic features from Beijing dialect, many phonological features of Southern Mandarin had been retained. In December 1921, Henri Picard-Destelan, codirector of the Post Office, quietly ordered a return to Nanking syllabary "until such time as uniformity is possible." Although the Soothill-Wade period was brief, it was a time when 13,000 offices were created, a rapid and unprecedented expansion. At the time the policy was reversed, one third of all postal establishments used Soothill-Wade spelling. The Ministry published a revised pronunciation standard based strictly on Northern Mandarin in 1932. In 1943, the Japanese ousted A. M. Chapelain, the last French head of the Chinese post. The post office had been under French administration almost continuously since Piry's appointment as postal secretary in 1901. In 1958, Communist China announced that it was adopting the
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of la ...

pinyin
romanization system. Implementing the new system was a gradual process. The government did not get around to abolishing postal romanization until 1964. Even then, the post office did not adopt pinyin, but merely withdrew Latin characters from official use, such as in postal cancellation markings. Mapmakers of the time followed various approaches. Private atlas makers generally used postal romanization in the 1940s, but they later shifted to Wade-Giles. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency used a mix of postal romanization and Wade-Giles. The U.S. Army Map Service used Wade-Giles exclusively. The U.S. government and the American press adopted pinyin in 1979. The
International Organization for Standardization The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task ...
followed suit in 1982. "ISO 7098:1982 – Documentation – Romanization of Chinese". Retrieved 2009-03-01. Postal romanization remained official in Taiwan until 2002, when
Tongyong Pinyin Tongyong Pinyin () was the official romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Latin script, Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanizat ...
was adopted. In 2009,
Hanyu Pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin, w ...
replaced Tongyong Pinyin as the official romanization (see
Chinese language romanization in Taiwan There are many systems used in (officially the Republic of China). The first Chinese language romanization system in Taiwan, , was developed for ese by and promoted by the indigenous since the 19th century. Pe̍h-ōe-jī is also the first wr ...
). While street names in
Taipei Taipei (), officially Taipei City, is the Capital city, capital and a Special municipality (Taiwan), special municipality of the Taiwan, Republic of China (Taiwan). Located in Regions of Taiwan, Northern Taiwan, Taipei City is an enclave of t ...

Taipei
have been romanized via Hanyu Pinyin, municipalities throughout Taiwan, such as
Kaohsiung Kaohsiung City (; : ; : ''Kao¹-hsiung²'') is a in southern . It ranges from the coastal urban centre to the rural with an area of . Kaohsiung city has a population of approximately 2.77 million people and is Taiwan's third most popu ...

Kaohsiung
and
Tainan Tainan, officially Tainan City, is a special municipality in southern Taiwan Taiwan (), officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. Neighbouring countries include the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the ...

Tainan
, presently use a number of romanizations, including Tongyong Pinyin and postal romanization.


See also

* École française d'Extrême-Orient romanization method * Postage stamps and postal history of China


Notes


References


Citations


Bibliography

* ''China Postal Album: Showing the Postal Establishments and Postal Routes in Each Province.'' 1st ed. Shanghai: Directorate General of Posts, 1907. * ''China Postal Album: Showing the Postal Establishments and Postal Routes in Each Province.'' 2nd ed. Peking: Directorate General of Posts, 1919. * ''China Postal Atlas: Showing the Postal Establishments and Postal Routes in Each Province.'' 3rd ed. Nanking: Directorate General of Posts, 1933. * ''China Postal Atlas: Showing the Postal Establishments and Postal Routes in Each Province.'' 4th ed. Nanking: Directorate General of Posts, 1936. * Playfair, G. M. H. ''The Cities and Towns of China: A Geographical Dictionary.'' 2nd. ed. Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh Ltd., 1910. * "Yóuzhèng shì pīnyīn" () ''Zhōngguó dà bǎikē quánshū: Yuyán wénzì'' (). Beijing: Zhōngguó dà bǎikē quánshū chūbǎnshè ({{zh, labels=no, s=中国大百科全书出版社), 1998. Philately of China Postal system of China Romanization of Chinese