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Wenzhounese romanisation

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Title: Wenzhounese romanisation  
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Subject: Legge romanization, Long-short (romanization), Cyrillization of Chinese, Cantonese Pinyin, Standard Romanization (Cantonese)
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Wenzhounese romanisation

The romanisation of the Wenzhou dialect of Wu Chinese, part of the greater Ou grouping[1] of Wu dialects centred on the city, refers to the use of a Latinate alphabet as a means of phonetically representing the sounds of this dialect group.

Early Romanisation

The first instance of Wenzhounese romanisation begins with the language documentation efforts of Christian missionaries who translated the bible into many varieties of Chinese in both Chinese characters and in phonetic romanisation systems based largely on the Wade-Giles system. The first romanised form of Wenzhounese can be seen in an 1892 Gospel of Matthew translation.[2]


In 2004, father-and-son team Shen Kecheng[3] and Shen Jia[4] published the work Wenzhouhua,[5] which outlines a systematic method for romanising each initial and rhyme of the dialect. Its primary orthographic innovation lies in its means of expressing the three way distinction of Wú stops in an orthography which only distinguishes between voiced and unvoiced stops.

The Wade-Giles-based systems deal with this as k, k', and g to represent /k/, /kʰ/, and /ɡ/. Since voiced obstruents no longer exist in standard Chinese, pinyin deals with /k/ and /kʰ/ as g and k respectively. The Shens' system adopts this basic method as well and transcribes voiced stops by duplicating the voiced series of letters, so /ɡ/ is gg in their system. Likewise, /ɦ/ is transcribed as hh.

They adopt other pinyin conventions, such as x for what is normally transcribed in Chinese usage of the IPA as /ɕ/ and c for /tsʰ/. Vowels are transcribed with a number of digraphs though few are innovations. We see the influence of Chinese IMEs in their system as well, since v denotes /y/ and ov denotes /œy/. Another way it diverges from pinyin is in Wenzhounese's unrounded alveolar apical vowel /ɨ/, which is written as ii, since, unlike Mandarin, apical vowels are not in complimentary distribution with /i/ in Wenzhounese.

Tones however are not marked via diacritics or tone spelling, but by simply placing superscript values of Chao's tone lettering system.[6]


Romanisation IPA Example characters
a [a] 矮反鞋媽
ae [ɛ] 袁行享杏
ai [ai] 北個國十
au [au] 愁狗甌有
e [ɜ] 保草否手
ee [e] 愛才德黑
ei [ei] 比池肥式
eu [ɤu] 臭豆流多
i [i] 鼻變長野
ie [iɛ] 打表橫兩
ii [ɨ] 書吃思溪
o [o] 拔茶車學
oe [ø] 半端合亂
ov [øy] 步父婦魚
u [u] 部果母委
uo [uɔ, yɔ] 飽從當爪
v [y] 安居溫月
ng [ŋ] 餓二我吳
ang [aŋ] 本分今京
eng [eŋ] 病稱民星
ong [oŋ] 東豐空夢


Romanisation IPA Example characters
b [p] 把百半本
bb [b] 白抱備別
c [tsʰ] 采草測產
d [t] 打帶刀島
dd [d] 大地動頭
f [f] 反福火分
g [k] 該高歌工
gg [ɡ] 厚渠峽跔
h [h] 風海好黑
hh [ɦ] 房孩紅華
i [j] 安溫央也
j [tɕ] 見叫斤酒
jj [dʑ] 件舊僅狂
k [kʰ] 開考科肯
l [l] 來郎老雷
m [m] 馬買滿毛
n [n] 拿內奶男
ny [ɲ] 你鳥捏女
ng [ŋ] 礙傲牛瓦
p [pʰ] 怕拍跑片
q [tɕʰ] 出窗千春
s [s] 散掃色殺
ss [z] 愁詞存靜
t [tʰ] 他塔湯體
u [u] 歪彎屋挖
w [v] 犯肥份飯
x [ɕ] 少手雙先
y [j] 床就前全
z [ts] 雞早進真
zz [dz] 才茶沉池

Native perspectives

There has mostly not been a significant effort or interest on the part of locals to have a standard romanisation of the dialect. However, along with a growing economy and increased leisure, there has also been a growing local pride in the Wēnzhōu dialect, and attention towards romanisation or other dialect-based written communication systems will likely increase with time.

See also


  1. ^ simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Ōu
  2. ^ Chan, Sin-wai (2001). An encyclopaedia of translation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. p. 67.  
  3. ^ Chinese: 沈克成; pinyin: Shěn Kèchéng
  4. ^ Chinese: 沈迦; pinyin: Shěn Jiā
  5. ^ simplified Chinese: 温州话; traditional Chinese: 溫州話; pinyin: Wēnzhōuhuà
  6. ^ 沈, 克成 (2009). 温州话. Ningbo: 宁波出版社. pp. 32–35.  
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