[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: new Chinese dinosaur names

> bh480@scn.org wrote:r.
> >
> > Nick is quite correct--the apostrophe is used in 
pinyin to
> > show separate syllables so that xian and xi'an are
> > pronounced like "shyen" and "shee-ahn."
> Woud you be kind enough to supply a reference for the 
use of an
> apostrophe in pinyin?
> Such usage appears in virtually no source that I have 
come across in
> more than 35 years. Is this a recent usage? Or are you 
conflating two
> romanization systems?
> Thank you.
> ES

I can refer you to a number of sources. The nearest at 
hand at the moment are:
The pinyin Sino Chinese-English Dictionary (Sino 
Publishing Company) pg. xi, under II. Phonetics, 4., 
states: "An apostrophe (') is used to separate syllables 
in compound-character entries that maybe confused."

Chicago Manual of Style: Chap. 9, Foreign Languages in 
Type; Transliterated and Romanized Languages, subsection 

"In an attempt to reproduce sounds more accurately, pinyin 
spellings often differ markedly from the older ones, and 
personal names are usually spelled without apostrophes or 
hyphens; an apostrophe is sometimes used, however, to 
avoid ambiguity when syllables are run together (as in 
Chang'an to distinguish it from Chan'gan)."

The practice of inserting an apostrophe in such cases 
seems pretty universal in the publications I have seen, 
including English language publications from China (China 
Reconstructs, Beijing Review, etc.). An obvious example is 
the city of Xi'an--See the American Heritage Dictionary 
and Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary, which spell 
Xi'an with an apostrophe. Note that in the old Wade-Giles 
system compound-character words and names were separated 
by a hyphen (Hsi-an), so such ambiguity was not an issue. 
The apostrophe is used in a totally different way in the 
Wade-Giles transcription to show aspiration of consonants, 
as has already been pointed out. 

Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org