Wade-Giles

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Wade-Giles (simplified Chinese: 威妥玛拼音 or 韦氏拼音; traditional Chinese: 威妥瑪拼音; pinyin: wēituǒmǎ pīnyīn), sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a Romanization system for the Chinese language. It is based on the form of Mandarin used in Beijing. The system was produced by Thomas Wade in the mid-19th century. It was fully developed in Herbert Giles's 1892 Chinese-English dictionary.

Wade-Giles was the main system of transliteration in the English-speaking world for much of the 20th century. It is used in several standard reference books. It is also used in all books about China published before 1979. It replaced the Nanjing-based romanization systems that was common until the late 19th century. Wade-Giles has been replaced by the Pinyin system today. It still remains in use in Taiwan (Republic of China).

One well-known feature of Wade-Giles is that it uses the apostrophe to mark aspirated consonants, or breathy consonants. For example, ping in Pinyin would be written as p'ing in Wade-Giles, but bing in Pinyin would be written as ping. Sounds are written this way because Chinese does not have voiced stop consonants, fricatives, or affricates like in English. Chinese only distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated sounds. Therefore, an apostrophe is used instead of using a different letter.

However, the apostrophe was not well understood by people who do not know the Wade-Giles spelling, so many people who read the apostrophe ignored the apostrophe when reading or copying Chinese words down. This had lead many non-Chinese to say Chinese words incorrectly, including Tao, tai chi, and kung fu. Wade-Giles spellings where the apostrophe is completely ignored are called bastardized Wade-Giles.[1]

Comparison chart[change | change source]

Vowels
IPA ɑ ɔ ɤ aɪ eɪ ɑʊ ɤʊ an ən ɑŋ ɤŋ ɑɻ ʊŋ ji iɛ iɤʊ iɛn jin jiŋ
Pinyin a o e ai ei ao ou an en ang eng er ong yi ye you yan yin ying
Tongyong Pinyin a o e ai ei ao ou an en ang eng er ong yi ye you yan yin ying
Wade-Giles a o o/ê ai ei ao ou an ên ang êng êrh ung i yeh yu yen yin ying
zhuyin ㄨㄥ ㄧㄝ ㄧㄡ ㄧㄢ ㄧㄣ ㄧㄥ
example
Vowels
IPA wu uɔ ueɪ uan uən uʊn uɤŋ uʊŋ y yɛ yɛn yn yʊŋ
Pinyin wu wo wei wan wen weng yu yue yuan yun yong
Tongyong Pinyin wu wo wei wan wun wong yu yue yuan yun yong
Wade-Giles wu wo wei wan wên wêng yüeh yüan yün yung
zhuyin ㄨㄛ ㄨㄟ ㄨㄢ ㄨㄣ ㄨㄥ ㄩㄝ ㄩㄢ ㄩㄣ ㄩㄥ
example


Consonants
IPA p pʰ m fəŋ fʊŋ tiou tuei tʰ ny ly ɻ kʰ tɕiɛn tɕyʊŋ tɕʰɪn ɕyɛn
Pinyin b p m feng diu dui t ger k he jian jiong qin xuan
Tongyong Pinyin b p m fong diou duei t nyu lyu ger k he jian jyong cin syuan
Wade-Giles p p' m fêng tiu tui t' kêrh k' ho chien chiung ch'in hsüan
zhuyin ㄈㄥ ㄉㄧㄡ ㄉㄨㄟ ㄋㄩ ㄌㄩ ㄍㄜㄦ ㄏㄜ ㄐㄧㄢ ㄐㄩㄥ ㄑㄧㄣ ㄒㄩㄢ
example 歌儿
Consonants
IPA tʂə tʂɚ tʂʰə tʂʰɚ ʂə ʂɚ ʐə ʐɚ tsə tsuɔ tsɨ tsʰə tsʰɨ sɨ
Pinyin zhe zhi che chi she shi re ri ze zuo zi ce ci se si
Tongyong Pinyin jhe jhih che chih she shih re rih ze zuo zih ce cih se sih
Wade-Giles chê chih ch'ê ch'ih shê shih jih tsê tso tzŭ ts'ê tz'ŭ szŭ
zhuyin ㄓㄜ ㄔㄜ ㄕㄜ ㄖㄜ ㄗㄜ ㄗㄨㄛ ㄘㄜ ㄙㄜ
example
Tones
IPA ma˥˥ ma˧˥ ma˨˩˦ ma˥˩
Pinyin
Tongyong Pinyin ma maˊ maˇ maˋ
Wade-Giles ma1 ma2 ma3 ma4
zhuyin ㄇㄚ ㄇㄚˊ ㄇㄚˇ ㄇㄚˋ
example (traditional/simplfied) 媽/妈 麻/麻 馬/马 罵/骂

Sample sentences of Wade-Giles[change | change source]

Below are examples of sentences written in Chinese characters, Pinyin, and Wade-Giles with English translations.

Chinese characters 你是北京人还是上海人?
Pinyin Nǐ shì Běijīng rén háishì Shànghǎi rén?
Wade-Giles Ni3 shih4 Pei3ching1jên2 hai2shih4 Shang4hai3jên2?
English Are you Pekingese or Shanghainese?
Chinese characters 唐鑫鑫很喜欢去青岛喝啤酒。
Pinyin Táng Xīnxīn hěn xǐhuān qù Qīngdǎo hē píjiǔ.
Wade-Giles T'ang2 Hsin1hsin1 hên3 hsi3huan1 ch‘ü4 Ch'ing1tao3 ho1 p'i2chiu3.
English Tang Xinxin likes to go to Qingdao to drink beer.
Chinese characters 周长平要做太极,但是他不要看电影。
Pinyin Zhōu Chángpíng yào zuò tàijí, dànshì tā bùyào kàn diànyǐng.
Wade-Giles Chou1 Ch'ang2p'ing2 yao4 tso4 t'ai4chi2, tan4shih4 t'a1 pu4yao4 k'an4 tien4ying3.
English Zhou Changping wants to do tai chi, but he does not want to watch movies.

Other websites[change | change source]

  • Swofford, Mark. "problems with Wade-Giles". www.pinyin.info. Retrieved 2018-09-05.