Library of Congress
Pinyin Conversion Project

New Chinese Romanization Guidelines

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In order to provide better service to library users, the Library of Congress is moving to adopt the pinyin system of romanization of Chinese. That system has already been the standard for the United States Government for more than two decades; it is also the standard used by the United Nations and most of the world's media.

As a first step in changing to a new romanization system for Chinese, the Library circulated draft Chinese romanization guidelines for comment. Many thoughtful comments were received, from inside the Library, as well as from American institutions and several national libraries. Now, having taken those comments into consideration, the new guidelines will be issued as part of the ALA-LC romanization tables.

The new romanization guidelines for Chinese are based on the pinyin system. These guidelines are intended to serve the bibliographic and information needs of the Library, as well as the interests of the wider library community. They are intended to be clear and unambiguous; to be easy for library users to learn and to follow; to lend themselves to the greatest possible consistency of application; and to best facilitate eventual conversion from the current Wade-Giles system.

The date of implementation of the new standard ("Day 1") has not yet been determined. The new guidelines are being issued in advance of Day 1 and the conversion of files to facilitate planning for those events.

The new guidelines are based on Han yu pin yin fang an, the Chinese text which constitutes the foundation of pinyin romanization. As with other romanization schemes, Chinese romanization procedures have been adapted for use in American libraries. Tone marks will not be given. To promote consistency of practice, words of non-Chinese origin will always be romanized systematically.

Individual syllables will continue to be romanized separately, except in the cases of personal names, geographic locations, and certain proper nouns. These exceptions will be familiar to Library users, since those syllables that were hyphenated in Wade-Giles will now be joined in pinyin. The names of geographic locations will generally be joined, following the guidance of the Board on Geographic Names (BGN). (As is the case now, systematically romanized forms may differ from the form used as access points.)

Separation of syllables was felt to be an approach that can be conveniently and consistently applied to the full range of Chinese texts. It will help assure that converted LC records will maintain their consistency with those found on both utilities by allowing OCLC to continue to separate individual syllables with a space, while also making it possible for RLIN to maintain its practice of inserting a joining character between certain syllables. The separation of syllables should also facilitate international exchange of Chinese bibliographic data in the future.

Non-numerical dates will continue to be romanized as separate syllables, except in the case of reign periods that are also the names of emperors. In those latter instances, the syllables of the name of the reign period will be connected, in the same manner as the name of the emperor.

An apostrophe will be inserted between joined syllables in several clearly defined instances for the sake of clarification. This standard Chinese romanization practice will be especially helpful to the many users who are without access to vernacular text.

Romanization of Chinese will be based upon standard national Chinese pronunciation. Procedures are provided for determining standard pronunciation. One source is prescribed for making semantic distinctions. To determine contemporary pronunciation, however, the guidelines suggest that one may consult one of several recently published standard dictionaries, or a more specialized dictionary when romanizing specialized texts. The list of standard dictionaries was suggested by the National Library of China. One is advised to use judgment in selecting the appropriate reference source, depending upon the situation.

Procedures for punctuation will not change from Wade-Giles practice. Capitalization practice will also remain the same, except that the first letter of each separately written word of a geographic name, including generic terms for jurisdictions and topographic features, will now be capitalized, following BGN practice.

The number of special characters used in pinyin romanization will be reduced to only two: the apostrophe and the dieresis (umlaut). Each will be employed only infrequently. The apostrophe, used in those rare instances when joined syllables need to be clarified, can be found on all standard keyboards. The dieresis, required only to distinguish between the sounds lu and lü, nu and nü, will also be used infrequently.

A correspondence table is included in order to show the usual relationship between Wade-Giles and pinyin romanizations. Chinese is a dynamic language, and dictionaries frequently indicate different ranges of possible sounds for Chinese characters. Therefore, the correspondence table is not intended to be prescriptive or comprehensive, but is merely provided to help library users make the transition to the new system of romanization.

Philip Melzer, chair, Pinyin Task Group
November 3, 1998

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Correspondence of Wade-Giles to Pinyin

The table below presents Wade-Giles syllabic readings found in Di ming Han zi yi yin biao (1971) and the ALA-LC romanization tables (1997), and Pinyin equivalents based on sounds and romanizations found in Xian dai Han yu ci dian (1983). It is provided as a device to show the usual relationship between Wade-Giles and pinyin romanizations. This list is not exhaustive but presents most of the Wade-Giles romanizations that are likely to be found in older cataloging records. Similarly, the syllables which are possible using the Pinyin system of romanization are not limited to those contained in this list.



a a
ai ai
an an
ang ang
ao ao
cha zha
ch`a cha
chai zhai
ch`ai chai
chan zhan
ch`an chan
chang zhang
ch`ang chang
chao zhao
ch`ao chao
che zhe
ch`e che
chen zhen
ch`en chen
cheng zheng
ch`eng cheng
chi ji
ch`i qi
chia jia
ch`ia qia
chiang jiang
ch`iang qiang
chiao jiao
ch`iao qiao
chieh jie
ch`ieh qie
chien jian
ch`ien qian
chih zhi
ch`ih chi
chin jin
ch`in qin
ching jing
ch`ing qing
chiu jiu
ch`iu qiu
chiung jiong
ch`iung qiong
cho zhuo
ch`o chuo
chou zhou
ch`ou chou
chu zhu
ch`u chu
ch ju
ch` qu
chua zhua
chuai zhuai
ch`uai chuai
chuan zhuan
ch`uan chuan
chan juan
ch`an quan
chuang zhuang
ch`uang chuang
cheh jue
ch`eh que
chui zhui
ch`ui chui
chun zhun
ch`un chun
chn jun
ch`n qun
chung zhong
ch`ung chong
en en
erh er
fa fa
fan fan
fang fang
fei fei
fen fen
feng feng
fo fo
fou fou
fu fu
ha ha
hai hai
han han
hang hang
hao hao
hei hei
hen hen
heng heng
ho he
hou hou
hsi xi
hsia xia
hsiang xiang
hsiao xiao
hsieh xie
hsien xian
hsin xin
hsing xing
hsiu xiu
hsiung xiong
hs xu
hsan xuan
hseh xue
hsn xun
hu hu
hua hua
huai huai
huan huan
huang huang
hui hui
hun hun
hung hong
huo huo
i yi
jan ran
jang rang
jao rao
je re
jen ren
jeng reng
jih ri
jo ruo
jou rou
ju ru
juan ruan
jui rui
jun run
jung rong
ka ga
k`a ka
kai gai



k`ai kai
kan gan
k`an kan
kang gang
k`ang kang
kao gao
k`ao kao
ken gen
k`en ken
keng geng
k`eng keng
ko ge
k`o ke
kou gou
k`ou kou
ku gu
k`u ku
kua gua
k`ua kua
kuai guai
k`uai kuai
kuan guan
k`uan kuan
kuang guang
k`uang kuang
kuei gui
k`uei kui
kun gun
k`un kun
kung gong
k`ung kong
kuo guo
k`uo kuo
la la
lai lai
lan lan
lang lang
lao lao
le le
lei lei
leng leng
li li
liang liang
liao liao
lieh lie
lien lian
lin lin
ling ling
liu liu
lo luo
lou lou
lu lu
l l
luan luan
lan luan
leh lue
lun lun
lung long
ma ma
mai mai
man man
mang mang
mao mao
mei mei
men men
meng meng
mi mi
miao miao
mieh mie
mien mian
min min
ming ming
miu miu
mo mo
mou mou
mu mu
na na
nai nai
nan nan
nang nang
nao nao
nei nei
nen nen
neng neng
ni ni
niang niang
niao niao
nieh nie
nien nian
nin nin
ning ning
niu niu
no nuo
nou nou
nu nu
n n
nuan nuan
neh nue
nung nong
o e
ou ou
pa ba
p`a pa
pai bai
p`ai pai
pan ban
p`an pan
pang bang
p`ang pang
pao bao
p`ao pao
pei bei
p`ei pei
pen ben
p`en pen
peng beng
p`eng peng
pi bi
p`i pi
piao biao
p`iao piao
pieh bie
p`ieh pie
pien bian
p`ien pian
pin bin
p`in pin
ping bing
p`ing ping
po bo
p`o po
p`ou pou



pu bu
p`u pu
sa sa
sai sai
san san
sang sang
sao sao
se se
sen sen
seng seng
sha sha
shai shai
shan shan
shang shang
shao shao
she she
shen shen
sheng sheng
shih shi
shou shou
shu shu
shua shua
shuai shuai
shuan shuan
shuang shuang
shui shui
shun shun
shuo shuo
so suo
sou sou
ssu si
su su
suan suan
sui sui
sun sun
sung song
ta da
t`a ta
tai dai
t`ai tai
tan dan
t`an tan
tang dang
t`ang tang
tao dao
t`ao tao
te de
t`e te
teng deng
t`eng teng
ti di
t`i ti
tiao diao
t`iao tiao
tieh die
t`ieh tie
tien dian
t`ien tian
ting ding
t`ing ting
tiu diu
to duo
t`o tuo
tou dou
t`ou tou
tu du
t`u tu
tuan duan
t`uan tuan
tui dui
t`ui tui
tun dun
t`un tun
tung dong
t`ung tong
tsa za
ts`a ca
tsai zai
ts`ai cai
tsan zan
ts`an can
tsang zang
ts`ang cang
tsao zao
ts`ao cao
tse ze
ts`e ce
tsei zei
tsen zen
ts`en cen
tseng zeng
ts`eng ceng
tso zuo
ts`o cuo
tsou zou
ts`ou cou
tsu zu
ts`u cu
tsuan zuan
ts`uan cuan
tsui zui
ts`ui cui
tsun zun
ts`un cun
tsung zong
ts`ung cong
tzu zi
tz`u ci
wa wa
wai wai
wan wan
wang wang
wei wei
wen wen
weng weng
wo wo
wu wu
ya ya
yai yai
yang yang
yao yao
yeh ye
yen yan
yin yin
ying ying
yo yo
yu you
y yu
yan yuan
yeh yue
yn yun
yung yong
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