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This page lacks both details and links about the previous romanization systems: the apostrophy would make much more sense by considering the attempts of romanization started with the very first contacts, including people like the Italian-origin, Spanish-ruled, Latin-speaking Jesuit Matteo Ricci and friends. Comparing this to English by default sounds like a dangerous contemporary English-only culture biais.

Considering comtemporary Mandarin as the default language is also certainly true went looking at Wade's and Giles' goal, but it erases the fact that they were "standing on the shoulders" -- not of giants, but people who talked to and translated and learned from XVIIth century Chinese speakers.

A better "encyclopedic" approach might want to consider:

  • a short description, with example and a rapid time frame;
  • a full history of the system, starting with the first ever, and considering the main steps and debates;
  • an emphasis on Wade and Giles contribution, that is what thy changed to the system, what questions they faced, what were both side transformations at that time;
  • a conclusion where the reproaches to Wade, Giles and they system would have they full meaning -- as these would be understandable with a historical and linguistic approach;
  • a full list of transcription, through a table, to make things clear: it is a coding for the Westerners issue (difficult because no language is stable) but not an actual Chinese language question (though with the importance of the Latin alphabet, it became more than that).

Having a systematic "History led us there; because of that, this changed." approach would make "Confucius", "Tao" and "Qi" (to summarize to the three most important words in Chinese) much more understandable. 00:55, 1 November 2005 (UTC), links by Hongthay (talk) 21:14, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Poor organization[edit]

This article should strive to describe first the essential principles behind the system. Instead you get a mixture of basic facts and criticism, as if the editors are saying, "Don't bother with reading this article about an obsolete system".

Example: Under history you get "...a general sense that the system is non-intuitive for non-specialists and not useful for teaching Chinese pronunciation". The same section ends with "The Hanyu Pinyin system is the official and most widely used system in the People's Republic of China", which does not help the reader understand Wade-Giles. The following section begins with "A common complaint about the Wade-Giles system...." 04:17, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with your criticism, but I will put it a different way: this article should be re-written from the point of view of an English speaking person who does not speak any dialect of chinese. The article should attempt as best it can to show some words and how to pronounce them and how they get transliterated. Right now the article is written for experts debating fine points and is completely useless to a person trying to learn some understandable lessons. Also, remove the chinese nationalism.

Cat fight[edit]

The following was removed and replaced with the lamest excuse.

The following is a strange blend of information, misinformation, and opinion. That's why I removed it. --BV

The Wade-Giles transliteration system blends /b/ with /p/, /d/ with /t/, /g/ with /k/.

In the native Bopomofo notation, Bo and Po are two distinct sounds, in fact, they are the FIRST two sounds of the phonetic system. Right after Bo Po Mo Fo are De Te Na La, obviously D and T are distinct as the 5th and 6th of the pronounciation system. Then followed by Ge Ke He, again G and K sounds are distinct as the 9th and 10th sounds.

Wade and Giles specifically dropped the FIRST sounds out of the FIRST three groups of the phonetic symbols, namely Bo, De and Ge. These sounds were significant enough to be placed first in the native phonetic system. Yet they were omitted in the Mandarin to western transliteration system. It is hard to explain their intention. Some theorized that they simply pulled a cruel practical joke on the Chinese language. What better way to make fun of a language than to remove the most important sounds? It is like removing ABC from the English alphabet.

I totally don't buy the excuse that the Mandarin BoPoMoFo were replaced with some P'oPoMoFo notation because some aspired and unaspired B and P sounds. To me, it just sound like the linguists were trying to make an excuse for Wade and Giles. It would be the biggest scandal if the joke was not covered up with some lame excuses. Given pinyin, everyone in the world now knows that B sounds closer to P' in representing the Bo sound in Mandarin regardless of the voicing and aspire argument.

I guess that's because you don't know what you're talking about. Perhaps you should learn something about phonetics? --BV

Despite the archane explanation that loaded with lingust jargons, P'o is no Bo, T'e is no De, K'e is no Ge to anyone who speaks native Mandarin.

Big fat duh. That's because those are the pinyin transliterations, which are more useful and accurate for non-linguists unfamiliar with the use of the apostrophe as an aspiration marker, and are tought to most people who speak native Mandarin, as well as most people who learn it as a second language. That's why Wade-Giles is being driven into well-deserved obscurity. --Brion VIBBER, Monday, April 1, 2002

I strongly believed the Wade-Giles system was intended as a joke or an insult, but no-one knew enough of both languages to get the joke at the time. Then it was accepted as a de facto standard for over hundred of years because there was no better alternative. Of course when Wade and Giles got their fame, they wouldn't be stupid enough to ruin their own names by explaining the cruel practical joke. It is a sad thing that much of the Western knowledge of China was recorded based on such a malice. Despite worldwide recognition of this transliteration system, it is piece of junk in my opinion.

Remember this was done at a time when the westerners called Chinese people Ching Chong and other funny names.

Yes, I admit that I am strongly opinionated and I pay absolutely no respect to this Wade-Giles thing because I actually considered it an insult to all the Chinese people. Let's dig these two guys out of their grave and use pinyin! -- User:Kowloonese

Well said. You know that there's not an ounce of decency left in this world when "何" is regarded to as "ho". :D -Taoster

And I believe everybody also knows that "hs" sounds much more like the ㄒ sound (as in 西) than, of all things, "x"! Of course one had to understand the least bit about languages and phonetics to get Wade-Giles. If you knew French (I know I expect too much, but there are more Western languages than English...), anyways, if you knew French you would see that pinyin B is almost exactly the soft unaspirated P of, for example, "Paris".
And none of my (non Chinese) friends ever spoke 學期 as "ksue-kwi" when I gave them a Wade-Giles text.--Laca 15:11, 28 May 2004 (UTC)
All right, Traditional-Chinese guy, in Wade-Giles it's actually "hsyue2-chi1" (xué qī). And yes Taoster, it is a complete insult to Chinese. I wonder what they were thinking... (writing XinJiang as SinKiang, Beijing as Peiching, Guanzhou as Canton, etc., etc...) Note: And I'm not ethnic-Chinese at all...--Metawe (talk) 02:59, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

propose adding to 8 Influences[edit]

the influences section seems far too empty and doesnt perform the funtion the title implies... and yes i know the history tries to do this, but then again its not history so ppl need to change the history into sth on how it came to be popular among taiwan and outsiders, esp who were these two kids and where they got their jargon... but i dont rite well so i'd like it if this gets some feedback and/or gets added into the article....

This system has brought some infamous expressions like "Yangtze" and "Nanking" into common use among non-Chinese and some spellings for the last names of early Chinese emmigrants, but has fallen into mostly oblivion for good reason. It is generally recognized that the system makes no sense to non-linguistic doctorates and the very people who use Chinese get confused by this system that some (which is at least most people I know) have called an insult to both the European and Chinese languages.

and unlike previously stated in the article, wade isnt used widely in taiwan, its just that they made up sth more similar to wades than pinyin in defiance to the fact that they lost to the communists and poor ppl

1698 2005 October 31 21:21 (PST)

Empty Rime?[edit]

I can't find any explanation (other than the commercial clones of this very page) on the internet for "empty rime". Maybe it comes under some other name, but that would not be "empty rhyme" either. Put a page in Wikipedia, and link to it from the phrase on the Wade-Giles page, please. --Sobolewski 02:11, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

Wrong Phonetics[edit]

This wade-giles thing is just wrong phonetics. For example, the /zh/ sound in Pinyin should be pronounced /dʒ/ not /ch/. Also the /j/ sound should be pronounced /z/ not /dʒ/. The stupidity of the English inventor is just beyond people's immagination.

Ermm..... no. <zh> in pinyin is unvoiced and unaspirated, while <ch> is unvoiced and aspirated. Neither of them corresponds to the voiced /dʒ/ sound that begins <jam> in English. In IPA, /j/ represents the first phoneme of <yes> in English, not <jam>. Also, there is no /z/ sound in standard Putonghua. <j> in Mandarin is a voiceless unaspirated alveolo-palatal affricate, while /z/ in English is a voiced alveolar fricative. The two sound quite different actually. -- ran (talk) 19:56, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I corrected the IPA equivalent you submitted for the English "J" here. WikiPro1981X (talk) 13:04, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Need help on WG to pinyin mapping[edit]

I posted a question on Talk:Tien_Gow for over a year regarding some Chinese words. It was never answered. Can someone who knows Wade-Giles offer some help? Kowloonese 21:11, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I can help you--Metawe (talk) 03:03, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Transliteration corrected to transcription[edit]

Although frequently improperly called "transliteration", Wade-Giles' system is a transcription of Chinese, as there can be no transliteration of Chinese script into any phonetic script, like the Latin (or English) alphabet. Any system of romanization of Chinese renders the sounds (pronunciation) and not the characters (written form).

NoychoH 09:09, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Pre-Giles Wade system[edit]

Anyone have reference for the Wade system before Giles? I am trying to merge Cyrillization of Chinese from Wade-Giles with Cyrillization of Chinese from pinyin, but about half of the notations on Wade-Giles page appears to be garbage, so I speculate its the Wade system before Giles. --Voidvector (talk) 22:51, 28 September 2008 (UTC)


As of now, there's no way to determine from the charts on this page how "fu" should be pronounced (as in "Kung-fu" or "K'ung-fu-tzu"). I assume that "u" is pronounced like "oo" in the English word "zoo." But, I'd rather not assume. zadignose (talk) 02:29, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

yes, it is.--刻意(Kèyì) 20:51, 18 April 2010 (UTC)


An explanation of the 'hs-' in the Wade-Giles system appears to be absent, along with its equivalence in pinyin (which I believe is 'x-'). It would be useful if this were to be added to the appropriate equivalence table.


"Nanjing" links to an article on that city, and nothing on the "nanjing" disambiguation page seems relevant to the romanization of Chinese words. Unfree (talk) 22:48, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Tonality in Wade-Giles[edit]

I know that Wade-Giles can express tonality through the use of numeric suffixes; which I see done in Wikipedia, sometimes -- either as regular or as superscript. Sometimes no tone is indicated: I understand that the elimination of tone marks was often carried out by English-language publishers, due to a perception that this would better be received by the reading public. I think it would be useful to include a discussion of tone in Wade-Giles, and whether it is optional, obligatory, and so on. Dcattell (talk) 20:29, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Old and New[edit]

The article refers in several places to 'old' and 'new' versions of Wade-Giles. This needs to be specific. What reform is being referred to, when was it? Tibetologist (talk) 08:34, 12 May 2010 (UTC)


The u-breve "ŭ" appears in the Wade–Giles system, and appears in the table (tzŭ, tz'ŭ, szŭ), but isn't mentioned/explained/illustrated in the article. For a moment I thought, oh, these are part of the older WG system, and that use of û is just typographical stand-ins for the harder-to-get ŭ,... But the earlier text explains that "The older version writes tsû, ts'û, and ssû", and those aren't the things in the table.

It looks like ŭ is part of the newer system, but... is left off in almost every case, since it is both redundant and rare to find in a typecase? I mean, looking across the symbols in the Comparison Chart, ŭ is the only letter not found in a typecase that you could use for all of English and French (and the only one not in Latin-1, or Code page 437, or MacRoman). And: dropping it doesn't clash with some other syllable's spelling.

BUT! Goggling seems to show that when people put any accent on the u in "Lao Tzu", the typographically baroque "Lao Tzŭ" is common, and the "Lao Tzû" is uncommon! ("Lao Tsŭ" and "Lao Tsû" are vanishingly rare.)

So: ŭ still appears only in the table, and its role in Old WG vs New WG vs who-knows-what isn't explained. -- Sean M. Burke (talk) 14:17, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

British Imperialist Arrogance[edit]

It is infuriating how 2 British diplomats who clearly had no idea about any Chinese spoken languages appointed themselves to romanize Chinese words. So Wade created his unique one-of-a-kind system and began to teach it at "Cambridge University"? Then Giles was supposed to have "refined" this nothing-like-it system? He clearly failed to correct any of Wade's mistakes. And they were deemed the Chinese experts to train Chinese specialists? Talking about blind leading the blind! No wonder the gap of East and West remained wide and few words westerns said are understood by the Chinese. This ridiculous system should be assigned to the trash heap where it belongs so we can put the British imperialistic arrogance behind us and move on with the correct pin-ying system which transcribes the official Chinese unified language.

Why didn't Wade or Giles use normal English/International alphabets? Why should B and D not be included in their system? What happened to G? What's with all their use of CH that replaced multiple Chinese sounds which do not resemble anything close to the actual sound of ch? Were Wade and Giles illiterate in the English language also? What in the world is "tofu" and "tao" and "tai-chi"? There is no Taoism in China and no book named Tao Te Ching anymore than there is Klustenanity and Puple in the West. According to their system, London should be known as Lon'ton and England be known as Inkland? Americans, unfortunately, looked to Mother England for everything, right or wrong. No wonder the Dolittle Raiders in WWII were not able to find Chuchou after they bombed Tokyo in 1942. There is no such place as Chuchou in China.

Wade and Giles should go down history as two of the Stupidest People and two of the most Irresponsibly Arrogant People ever lived.

And who the hell translated the great Long River of China to Yangtze River? Yangtze River is a very small tributory river that flow into the Long River near the town of Yangzhou. Should the great Mississippi be now known as the Yatzu river because there is a small stream near the delta by that name? Stupid is as stupid does. The old imperialists didn't know any better because they thought God was English. But they were clearly wrong. There is no reason why people now should remain ignorant and refuse to acknowledge their mistakes. VimalaNowlis (talk) 06:03, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Beer. —Sburke (talk) 10:17, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Clarification Needed[edit]

The shift from Wade-Giles to Pinyin, seems to have been a long, slow process in the US, and moreso in the UK, and one fraught with mystery. Not being a linguist, I was made aware of the change more or less by osmosis, having noticed at some point that a city I'd never heard of -- "Bay Jing" (Beijing)-- had become the new capital of China at some unspecified point, and the old capital -- "Pee King" (Peking) -- seemed to have vanished from the map, except in BBC broadcasts. In due course, a friend who spent many years living in China, and who actually spoke the language, made me aware if the various trransliteration systems, and explained -- somewhat -- the relatively recent (in the west) shift to Pinyin.

I say "somewhat," because the explanation left me wondering what the actual intent of a "transliteration" system was supposed to be, exactly. I had been taught that transliteration was a means of rendering the spoken sounds of a language into the written alphabet of another language, such that native speakers of the second language would have a basis for reasonably approximating the pronunciation of words in the first language.

As far as English is concerned, Wade-Giles seemed to accomplish this task adequately, if imperfectly, as did a nujmber of other systems. Pinyin, on the other hand, seems to confuse the issue more than it helps.

For example, I came to this article in hopes of understanding, among other things, the transformation of "Dung Chow Ping" into "Deng Xiaoping". Frankly, the article was no help in this regard. I don't even see the diagraph "xi" or "xia" in the chart. And I'm frankly at a loss as to supposed pronunciation.

"Dung Chow Ping" I would have pronounced as written: dung (rhymes with hung), chow (rhymes with wow), ping (rhymes with ring).

The Pinyin transliteration is problematic in English, as there are few, if any words that rhyme with "eng", "X" is commonly pronounced as "Z", or else as the name of the letter -- "eks", and the only sense I can make of "iao" is in the Victorian spelling for the sound a cat makes: "miaow" now more commonly rendered as "meow". This leaves me with either "Deng Eks-ee-ow-ping" or "Deng Z-eye-ee-ow-ping", neither of which exactly falls trippingly off the tongue. Moreover, this ambiguity would seem to be something that transliteration is supposed to prevent, and not foster.

I concede that possibly none of these efforts come close to an authentic Chinese pronunciation, but since the point is to render the words in English, shouldn't the system chosen use those letter combinations most likely to be at least approximately properly pronounced by a native English speaker, than combinations which make no immediate sense to said English speaker? If Deng's name is closer in pronunciation to "Chow Ping" than to "Eks eye ee ow ping", then shouldn't it be written as "Chow Ping" for English speakers?

Or, are we to assume that "X" represents the Greek "chi"? This might make more sense, but certainly is not what the average English speaker is going to think of when he encounters an "X".

If the real purpose of transliteration is to obfuscate, you could just have left the words in the original Chinese pictographs.

My point being, I think this problem needs to be addressed in the article, even if only by way of a mention with a link to a more comprehensive explanation elsewhere.


The lede reads: "It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade during the mid-19th century, and was given completed form with Herbert Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892."

Under 'History' a couple of paragraphs later, we learn: "Wade published the first Chinese textbook in English in 1867. The system was refined in 1912 by Herbert Allen Giles, a British diplomat in China and his son, Lionel Giles, a curator at the British Museum."

Which is it? (talk) 13:11, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

History section seems weak[edit]

I'll confess up front that I am neither a speaker nor a student of Chinese in any of its dialects. This makes me a non-expert, yet probably representative of the audience this article should be written for.

Obviously Wade-Giles transliteration has largely been replaced by Pinyin, yet W-G lingers on in historical and even contemporary writing, especially for primarily English-speaking audiences. Presumably Wade-Giles originally replaced some previous transliteration system(s). Even if W-G has been deprecated, it was in vogue for a century more or less. Whatever deficiencies may be evident in hindsight, W-G was historically important.

The History section needs to more clearly explain transitions into and out of W-G. It is glaringly weak on the transition to Pinyin. Apparently there has been some kind of religious war/paradigm shift. Zeal of proselytizers or traditionalists notwithstanding, it should be possible to describe these transitions in clear, neutral, encyclopedic language. I would like to know approximately when the PRC really started pushing Pinyin and the time period in which the West (e.g. New York Times, National Geographic magazine, Times of London etc.) switched over. The existing section does a better job conveying that the ROC dragged its feet but eventually switched to Pinyin too. LADave (talk) 17:13, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Maybe the History section would be a good place to address three widespread confusions. Right on this talk page several comments assume the once familiar spelling "Peking" is correct Wade Giles, and that Wade Giles would have us say "pea-king." They also assume every Chinese phoneme exists in English -- notably the pinyin x must have some conventional English spelling. (One phrasebook suggests the middle sound in "fresh cheese." I am not kidding.) These errors are corrected on the page now if you read carefully but the confusions remain common. Maybe they should be addressed. Colin McLarty (talk) 00:22, 14 August 2014 (UTC)