The Info List - Zhou Youguang

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ZHOU YOUGUANG (Chinese : 周有光; pinyin : _Zhōu Yǒuguāng_; 13 January 1906 – 14 January 2017) was a Chinese economist , banker, linguist , sinologist , publisher, and supercentenarian , known as the "father of Pinyin ", a system for the romanization of Mandarin Chinese , which was officially adopted by the government of the People\'s Republic of China
in 1958, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1982, and the United Nations
United Nations
in 1986.


* 1 Early life and career * 2 Designing Pinyin * 3 Later activities * 4 Books * 5 Gallery * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links


Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang
and wife Zhang Yunhe in 1938

Zhou was born as ZHOU YAOPING in Changzhou
, Jiangsu
Province, on 13 January 1906 to a Qing Dynasty official. At the age of ten, he and his family moved to Suzhou
, Jiangsu
Province. In 1918, he entered Changzhou
High School , during which time he first took an interest in linguistics . He graduated in 1923 with honours .

Zhou enrolled the same year in St. John\'s University, Shanghai where he majored in economics and took supplementary coursework in linguistics . He was almost unable to attend due to his family's poverty, but friends and relatives fundraised 200 yuan for the admission fee, and also helped him pay for tuition . He left during the May Thirtieth Movement of 1925 and transferred to Guanghua University , from which he graduated in 1927.

On 30 April 1933, Zhou married Zhang Yunhe (张允和), and the couple went to Japan for Zhou's studies. Zhou started as an exchange student at the University of Tokyo
University of Tokyo
, later transferring to Kyoto University due to his admiration of the Japanese Marxist economist Hajime Kawakami , who was a professor there at the time. Kawakami's arrest for joining the outlawed Japanese Communist Party in January 1933, however, meant that Zhou could not be his student. Zhou's son, Zhou Xiaoping (周晓平), was born in 1934. Later, the couple also had a daughter, Zhou Xiaohe (周小禾).

In 1937, due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
, Zhou and his family moved to the wartime capital Chongqing
, and his daughter died. He worked for Sin Hua Bank before entering public service as a deputy director at the National Government's Ministry of Economic Affairs, agricultural policy bureau (经济部农本局). After the 1945 Japanese defeat in World War II, Zhou went back to work for Sin Hua where he was stationed overseas: first in New York City and then in London. During his time in the United States, he met Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

Zhou participated for a time in the China
Democratic National Construction Association , but when the People\'s Republic was established in 1949 he returned to Shanghai, where he taught economics at Fudan University for several years.


In 1955, the government placed Zhou at the head of a committee to reform the Chinese language to increase literacy . While other committees oversaw the tasks of promulgating Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin Chinese
as the national language and creating simplified Chinese characters , Zhou's committee was charged with developing a romanization to represent the pronunciation of Chinese characters. Zhou said the task took about three years, and was a full-time job. Pinyin was made the official romanization in 1958, although (as now) it was only a pronunciation guide, not a substitute writing system. Zhou based Pinyin on several preexisting systems: the phonemes were inspired by Gwoyeu Romatzyh
Gwoyeu Romatzyh
of 1928 and Latinxua Sin Wenz
Latinxua Sin Wenz
of 1931, while the diacritic markings representing tones were inspired by zhuyin .

In April 1979, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Warsaw
held a technology conference. Speaking on behalf of the People\'s Republic of China
, Zhou proposed the use of the "Hanyu Pinyin System" as the international standard for the spelling of Chinese. Following a vote in 1982 the scheme became ISO 7098 .

In the modern era Pinyin has largely replaced older romanization systems such as Wade-Giles . It is the principal vehicle for most Chinese language computer input .


During the Cultural Revolution , Zhou was sent to live in the countryside and to be "re-educated ", as were many other intellectuals at that time. He spent two years at a labour camp.

After 1980, Zhou worked with Liu Zunqi and Chien Wei-zang on translating the _ Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
_ into Chinese, earning him the nickname "Encyclopedia Zhou". Zhou continued writing and publishing after the creation of Pinyin; for example, his book _Zhongguo Yuwen de Shidai Yanjin_ (中国语文的时代演进), translated into English by Zhang Liqing, was published in 2003 as _The Historical Evolution of Chinese Languages and Scripts_. From 2000, he wrote ten books, of which some have been banned in China

In 2011, during an interview with NPR, Zhou said that he hoped to see the day China
changed its position on the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989 , an event he said had ruined Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping
's reputation as a reformer. He became an advocate of political reform, and was critical of the Communist Party of China
's attacks on traditional Chinese culture when it came into power.

In early 2013, both Zhou and his son were interviewed by Dr. Adeline Yen Mah at their residence in Beijing
. Mah documented the visit in a video and presented Zhou with a Pinyin game she created for the iPad. Zhou became a supercentenarian on 13 January 2016 when he reached the age of 110. He was one of the few supercentenarians known for reasons other than their longevity.

Zhou died on 14 January 2017 at his home in Beijing
, a day after his 111th birthday; no cause was given. His wife had died in 2002, and his son had died in 2015. At the time, he was the seventh-oldest living man and the oldest living person in China. He is one of the 100 world\'s verified oldest men in history .


This list is incomplete ; you can help by expanding it .

Zhou was the author of more than 40 books, some of them banned in China
and over 10 of them published after he turned 100 in 2005.


新中国的金融问题 Xīn zhōngguó de jīnróng wèntí _China's financial problems_ 1949

汉语拼音词汇 Hànyǔ pīnyīn cíhuì _Chinese phonetic alphabet glossary_ 1950

中國拼音文字研究 Zhōngguó pīnyīn wénzì yánjiū _A study of Chinese phonetic alphabets_ 1953

资本的原始积累 Zīběn de yuánshǐ jīlěi _Primitive accumulation of capital_ 1954

字母的故事 Zìmǔ de gùshì _The alphabet's story_ 1954

汉字改革槪论 Hànzì gǎigé gài lùn _On the reform of Chinese characters_ 1961

电报拼音化 Diànbào pīnyīn huà _Telegraph rominization_ 1965

汉语手指字母论集 Hànyǔ shǒuzhǐ zìmǔ lùn jí _Essays on Chinese Sign Language_ 1965

汉字声旁读音便查 Hànzì shēng páng dúyīn biàn chá _Phonetic components of Chinese characters: a sound dictionary_ 1980

拼音化问题 Pīnyīn huà wèntí _Problems with Pinyin_ 1980

语文风云 Yǔwén fēngyún _Weather language_ 1981

中国语文的现代化 Zhōngguó yǔwén de xiàndàihuà _Modernization of the Chinese language_ 1986

世界字母简史 Shìjiè zìmǔ jiǎn shǐ _A brief history of the world's alphabets_ 1990

新语文的建设 Xīn yǔwén de jiànshè _Constructing new languages_ 1992

中国语文纵横谈 Zhōngguó yǔwén zònghéng tán _Features of the Chinese language_ 1992

汉语拼音方案基础知识 Hànyǔ pīnyīn fāng'àn jīchǔ zhīshì _Fundamentals of Pinyin_ 1993

语文闲谈 Yǔwén xiántán _Language Chat_ 1995

文化畅想曲 Wénhuà chàngxiǎng qǔ _Songs about Chinese culture_ 1997

世界文字发展史 Shìjiè wénzì fāzhǎn shǐ _History of the worldwide development of writing_ 1997

中国语文的时代演进 Zhōngguó yǔwén de shídài yǎnjìn _The historical evolution of Chinese languages and scripts_ 1997

比较文字学初探 Bǐjiào wénzì xué chūtàn _A tentative study of comparative philology_ 1998

多情人不老 Duō qíngrén bùlǎo _Lovers do not get old_ 1998

汉字和文化问题 Hànzì hé wénhuà wèntí _Chinese characters and the question of culture_ 1999

新时代的新语文 Xīn shídài de xīn yǔwén _The new language of the new era_ 1999

人类文字浅说 Rénlèi wénzì qiǎnshuō _An introduction to human language_ 2000

现代文化的冲击波 Xiàndài wénhuà de chōngjíbō _The shock wave of modern culture_ 2000

21世界的华语和华文 21 Shìjiè de huáyǔ hé huáwén _21 Chinese languages, one Chinese script_ 2002

周有光语文论集 Zhōuyǒuguāng yǔwén lùn jí _Collection of essays by Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang
on the Chinese language_ 2002

百岁新稿 Bǎi suì xīn gǎo _One hundred years old, but publishing a new book_ 2005

朝闻道集 Cháo wén dào jí _Essay collection_ 2010

拾贝集 Shi bèi jí _Selected essays_ 2011

今日花开又一年 Jīnrì huā kāi yòu yī nián _Today a new year blooms_ 2011

我的人生故事 Wǒ de rénshēng gùshi _My life story_ 2013

逝年如水 - 周有光百年口述 Shì nián rúshuǐ - zhōuyǒuguāng bǎinián kǒushù _"The years passed like water" - Zhou Youguang's oral recounting of his life_ 2015



Zhou Youguang's former Changzhou
residence, now a historical site *

An early photo of Zhou and his family *

Zhou (right) posing with writer Shen Congwen
Shen Congwen
(center) and Gu Chuanjie (顧傳玠) (left) in 1946 *

Zhou in 1947 *

Zhou and wife in 1953 *

Zhou Youguang
Zhou Youguang
at his home in Beijing
in 2012, aged 106


* Yuen Ren Chao * List of centenarians (educators, school administrators, social scientists and linguists)


* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ "Father of pinyin". _ China
Daily_. 26 March 2009. Archived from the original on 21 Jul 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2009. Reprinted in part as Simon, Alan (21–27 Jan 2011). "Father of Pinyin". _ China
Daily Asia Weekly _. Hong Kong. Xinhua News Agency. p. 20. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Branigan, Tania (21 February 2008). "Sound Principles". _The Guardian_. Archived from the original on 21 Nov 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ Margalit Fox (14 January 2017). "Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111". _The New York Times_. Archived from the original on January 20, 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ Bristow, Michael (22 March 2012). "The man who helped \'simplify\' Chinese". _BBC News_. Archived from the original on January 20, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ 李怀宇 (8 December 2005). "周有光:与时俱进文章里 百年风云笑谈中·南方社区·南方网" . _南方网_ (in Chinese). Retrieved 15 January 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ 金玉良 (2003). "苏州杂志2003第2期-周有光忆学生时代" . _Journal of Suzhou
University_ (in Chinese). Retrieved 4 March 2016. * ^ Ramsey, S. Robert (1989). _The Languages of China_. Princeton University Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-691-01468-5 . * ^ Rohsenow, John S. 1989. Fifty years of script and written language reform in the PRC: the genesis of the language law of 2001. In Zhou Minglang and Sun Hongkai, eds. _Language Policy In The People's Republic Of China: Theory And Practice Since 1949_, p. 23 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Lim, Louisa (19 October 2011). "At 105, Chinese Linguist Now A Government Critic". NPR . Retrieved 19 October 2011. * ^ Youguang Zhou 周有光. _The Historical Evolution of Chinese Languages and Scripts; 中国语文的时代演进_, translated by Zhang Liqing 张立青. Ohio State University National East Asian Language Resource Center. 2003. * ^ "Dr. Adeline Yen Mah meets th