For instance, take the common New Year greeting 恭喜發財, romanized in pinyin as "Gong Xi Fa Cai". "Xi" in pinyin is pronounced somewhat like "she" in English, but someone who doesn't know will intuitively try to say "eks-ee" or "eks-eye" which is incomprehensible to a native Chinese. Likewise, "Cai" is like "tz" + "eye", but someone might try to say "Kai" as in the pronunciation of "Cairo".
• "Gong Xi Fa Cai" becomes "Gung Shi Fa Tsai"
• "Xiaomi" becomes "Shiau-mi"
• "Jiu" (pronounced like "Joe") becomes "Jiou"
• "Qu" (pronounced like "chew") becomes "Chu"
Edit: Hmm, it didn't work when I tried it. Not sure if I chose the right source type.
Some thoughts on the topic: https://driftingclouds.net/2018/07/17/from-siberia-to-tibet-...
Pronounced like "Jyoe", maybe. "Joe" would be the syllable "zhou".
Does anyone remember when Beijing was Peking?
And I don't think Taiwan had an official romanization system, Wade giles seems more prevalent, and the road signs now are still a laughable mess.
They had a few but never used any of them consistently, hence the mess.
The name Peking came from Cantonese.
I just found this video on YouTube, can be a good start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XbQJPF817I&list=PLWXyZU_NJb...
No idea where did the Chinese Pinyin came from.
If the benchmark instead is other European languages, pinyin seems reasonable. The mapping of Q is probably the most unexpected feature.
The biggest problem with English pronunciation, and the biggest reason everyone says English spelling is a mess, is the Great Vowel Shift: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Vowel_Shift
So when you're writing a sound in the Latin alphabet, you have two choices:
- spell it like English (the only language with spelling so confusing, spelling bees are a thing)
- or spell it like every other language (relatively consistent)
Pinyin... chose to be consistent, like every other language.
A lot of the other weirdness is based on other languages, too: for instance, "x" is pronounced "sh" is Portuguese as well.
The compromise is to have Chinese characters reflecting one name and an unrelated and disconnected English name to appeal to both audiences.
In Mandarin speaking regions of China it's common to say 恭贺新禧 or 新春愉快 or simply 新年好.
And to me, Mandarin 'xi' sounds a lot more like "she" than "see".
On the other hand, I'm a Southerner, so I don't usually distinguish between "sh" and "s" sounds. I can do the 卷舌 thing, though, well enough that Northerners tell me I'm doing it right, and I don't think either Pinyin "shi" or Pinyin "si" sound anything like English "she". And while I don't think Pinyin "xi" sounds exactly like English "she", I think it sounds pretty close.
This is an issue lost on most native speakers of mandarin, and it’s hard as hell to teach to learners.
pinyin —> proper sound —-> actual sound
xi —> she —> see
si —> suh —> suh
shi —> shuh —> suh
chi —> chuh —> tsuh
ci —> tsuh —> tsuh
There are more, but I’m too many beers in now to remember.
The best test is to ask someone how to say 四十四是四十四 (44 is 44). It’s a good test for tones. This is properly something like /shuh suh shuh shuh shuh suh shuh/. In vernacular, this usually becomes something like /suh suh suh suh suh suh suh/ with tones being the only hint at different words.
Chinese is fun.
I forget the details now, but “standard” putonghua has two variants, and each variant revolves around Jiangsu province (something like north and south?). Anyway, Beijing people think that they speak the “standard”. People educated in linguistics know better.
It may be more interesting to compare with other ethnic cuisines. Foreign language names for restaurants have been very common for years, including for other Asian cuisines (e.g. Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean). When you look at it that way, the Chinese restaurant scene actually seems to be a late arrival to this trend.
I think this represents a deliberate break in branding with the previous Chinese restaurant tradition. Maybe it's to signify a difference in cuisine (authentic Chinese vs. American Chinese?). Or an ethnic difference (like the article mentions, more Northern Chinese who speak Mandarin, vs. the old immigrants who spoke Cantonese or Taishanese).
Or perhaps younger restaurateurs actually have a more "American" ear, and now feel that names like "Golden Dragon" sound kind of goofy. In the article, Mr. Huang actually says that he looked at names like "Sauce" or "Hearth" first, which are typical trendy names of the moment for an American restaurant. So, paradoxically, the use of Chinese names may actually be due to the owners being more Americanized.
It was incredible food. Literally the best I'd ever had. I made a habit of bringing American friends to this restaurant all the time, asking for the secret menu, and ordering things at random (because I couldn't read anything). Never was anybody disappointed and it became a weekly thing to go back and try new food.
The food was so good that it led to me going to China just to try even more authentic Chinese food.
I think there's this idea that Americans are afraid to try authentic foreign cuisine, but at least with millennials, I think it's the opposite. We grew up with TV shows about people eating "weird" food. We want to discover new things.
Better to ask your Chinese colleagues for suggestion.
Chinese (and Chinese-descended) people lived in California in large numbers before any other part of the US - since the 19th century.
In the majority of the US there are no authentic Chinese restaurants, it's the restaurants in those places that I'm talking about.
SF's China Town doesn't matter much now. Similar to LA's, where most good Chinese restaurants are outside Chinatown.
I don't think there's anything wrong with Americanized cuisines in general (or cuisines adapted by immigrants in general). Tex-Mex, what we recognized as "Mexican Food" here is great and burritos from taco trucks can be amazing. But I would speculate that since Americanized Chinese food arrived so long ago, it took on the tastes of America from 60+ years ago; just bland, salty and fatty. So a new wave of authentic Chinese would be great. The problem with having Americanized Chinese food established is it's hard to change directions - the expectations of standard Chinese food is hard to fight. Trend-setters want a new cuisine and the fans of current "Chinese Food" want it as it is.
Actually these days people tend to not use these because they look pretty silly and antique.