The romanisation of the Wenzhou dialect of Wu Chinese, part of the greater Ou grouping of Wu dialects centred on the city, refers to the use of a Latinate alphabet as a means of phonetically representing the sounds of this dialect group.
The first instance of Wenzhounese romanisation begins with the language documentation efforts of Christian missionaries who translated the bible into many varieties of Chinese in both Chinese characters and in phonetic romanisation systems based largely on the Wade-Giles system. The first romanised form of Wenzhounese can be seen in an 1892 Gospel of Matthew translation.
In 2004, father-and-son team Shen Kecheng and Shen Jia published the work Wenzhouhua, which outlines a systematic method for romanising each initial and rhyme of the dialect. Its primary orthographic innovation lies in its means of expressing the three way distinction of Wú stops in an orthography which only distinguishes between voiced and unvoiced stops.
The Wade-Giles-based systems deal with this as k, k', and g to represent /k/, /kʰ/, and /ɡ/. Since voiced obstruents no longer exist in standard Chinese, pinyin deals with /k/ and /kʰ/ as g and k respectively. The Shens' system adopts this basic method as well and transcribes voiced stops by duplicating the voiced series of letters, so /ɡ/ is gg in their system. Likewise, /ɦ/ is transcribed as hh.
They adopt other pinyin conventions, such as x for what is normally transcribed in Chinese usage of the IPA as /ɕ/ and c for /tsʰ/. Vowels are transcribed with a number of digraphs though few are innovations. We see the influence of Chinese IMEs in their system as well, since v denotes /y/ and ov denotes /œy/. Another way it diverges from pinyin is in Wenzhounese's unrounded alveolar apical vowel /ɨ/, which is written as ii, since, unlike Mandarin, apical vowels are not in complimentary distribution with /i/ in Wenzhounese.
There has mostly not been a significant effort or interest on the part of locals to have a standard romanisation of the dialect. However, along with a growing economy and increased leisure, there has also been a growing local pride in the Wēnzhōu dialect, and attention towards romanisation or other dialect-based written communication systems will likely increase with time.
- simplified Chinese: 瓯; traditional Chinese: 甌; pinyin: Ōu
- Chan, Sin-wai (2001). An encyclopaedia of translation: Chinese-English, English-Chinese. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. p. 67. ISBN 962-201-997-8.
- Chinese: 沈克成; pinyin: Shěn Kèchéng
- Chinese: 沈迦; pinyin: Shěn Jiā
- simplified Chinese: 温州话; traditional Chinese: 溫州話; pinyin: Wēnzhōuhuà
- 沈, 克成 (2009). 温州话. Ningbo: 宁波出版社. pp. 32–35. ISBN 978-7-80602-811-7.