Talk:Chinese dominoes

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I understand the games, but I've seen each of these Chinese terms spelled many ways, and I know nothing about proper transliteration of Chinese. I would appreciate it if someone (we do have at least one Wikipedian who seems to know this well) would edit this to make all the transliterations consistent. I believe the Cantonese names are the most commonly used in American casinos (I only know about the tiles from Pai Gow), but I imagine Mandarin Tien Gow players might use different ones. --LDC


Since Tien Gow and Pai Gow are games mostly played in southern China, the terms used should be transliterated according to the Cantonese dialect. In Hong Kong, the game of Tien Gow is refered to as Tin Kau in official papers; Pai Pow is refered to as Pai Kau. And you already know what American Casinos use. It is impossible to unify the spelling because I don't know if there is any formal transliteration standards for Cantonese.

I know that Mandarin has at least three very formal transliteration standards known as Pinyin (Mainland China), Zhuyin (Taiwan) and Wade-Giles systems (historical). Many well known old words were transliterated using the Wade-Giles system developed in the 19th century. That explains the different spellings of Peking vs. Beijing and Ching Dynasty vs. Qing Dynasty etc. As long as every reader understands that all these terms are written phonetically, then they need not insist on consistent spelling.

The Chinese dominoes are used in northern Chinese games also. Gwat Pai is an example. If we go by its local name, then we should transliterate it to Goo Pai in Mandarin or something else in Hu-nan dialect. But then one may argue that Gwat Pai should be used just to be consistent with other Cantonese on the same page. Who decides what is right? If these pages are transliterated in Cantonese, the Mandarin speaking readers will object. Same case vice versa. There are countless dialects used in China, and most Chinese games are regional and their terms are expressed usually in local dialects. We can never please everyone at once. You'll have inconsistency whatever you pick. If this is a book, the author decides whatever he likes. But this Wikipedia is co-authored by writers around the world. What should be the standard or policy?

In my opinion, we should not put too much effort in formal transliteration due to all the controversy mentioned above. Besides, how many westerners really know Pinyin or how to pronounce Qing and Xing correctly?

Instead I would suggest that we can add links to dictionary entries that present the Chinese terms graphically and audibly. Such external references would eliminate any confusions.

Try the following links http://charts.unicode.org/unihan/unihan.acgi$0x5929 Tien and http://charts.unicode.org/unihan/unihan.acgi$0x4E5D Gow to see them in Chinese writing. Try [[:http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%d1# Tien|http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%d1# Tien]] and [[:http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%45# Gow|http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%45# Gow]] to listen to how the words are pronounced in Cantonese. Try [[:http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/agrep-lindict?query=%a4%d1&category=wholerecord# Tain|http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/agrep-lindict?query=%a4%d1&category=wholerecord# Tain]] and [[:http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/agrep-lindict?query=%a4%45&category=wholerecord# Jiu|http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/agrep-lindict?query=%a4%45&category=wholerecord# Jiu]] to listen to the same two words in Mandarin.

To our Chinese scholar above, while I agree that convtroversy is inevitable, I disagree that we should therefore give up. I've seen, for example, 3 or 4 spellings of "Gee Joon"/"Jee Joon"/"Gee June". I usually use "Gee Joon" because that's the name of the Chinese restaurant in Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, but I otherwise have no clue. If we could at least settle on a few spellings for things like this (and tile names like "cheong"/"chong", "luk"/"look", etc.), WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THESE ARTICLES, then at least they'd be more searchable and easier to cross-reference with related articles, and we'd have a reliable system of naming the pages an creating links. If that annoys some Mandarin speakers, tough. Let them create Mandarin redirects into the Cantonese-named pages.

I spelled the word inconsistently because I myself do not know a consistent transliteration method for Cantonese. I basically transliterate on the fly. It is not the case for an English speaking writer. For example, you know the word "Gee Joon" by its spelling hence you spell it the same way everytime. For me, I know the word by its sound, so I may not spell it the same way everytime.
Other reason why the results differ everytime is that there is no one-to-one mapping of the Cantonese sounds to the English language. If I were a scholar who use a formal system, then my transliteration may be more consistent. But I just pick an English spelling that sounds closest to the original. For example, the Gee in Gee June sounds between G, J and Z. I am not a linguist, and I sometimes pick J and something pick G. I believe this problem is not unique to me, if you look around in Las Vegas, you'll probably see inconsistent Chinese transliterations from casino to casino. As I pointed out earlier, the Hong Kong government uses a different spelling from American Casinos. Try an experiment, click this link [[:http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%45# Gow|http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/cgi-bin/canton-new.pl?query=%a4%45# Gow]] and listen to the pronounciation. Transliterate the best you can and ask someone else to read it back to you. Just notice how different the original sound and the transliterated sound are. In your example, Luk vs. Look, both are incorrectly because the pronounciation of SIX does not have the K sound. So to be precise, the pronounciation is Look in the sixth tone but drop the K ending sound. However, if you write it as Loo, you get the sound as in Loose.
Another issue is the common spelling vs. systemetic spellings. The research project at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has come up with a very systemetic way for http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Canton2/syllabary phonetic notation in Cantonese. For example, Tien Gow should be spelled as Tin1 Gau2 in the phonetic system. If one adopts the formal spelling, then many readers who are used to the common spelling will found the text difficult to read. If we use the common spelling, then we need to face the problem of multiple versions of common spelling for the same word.
I agree with you that there is a need to unify the spelling for easy search and wiki linking. But the issue of multiple-authoring still exists. I can change all the spelling in a consistent way within my pages, but then another author would add some text differently. So I think the "write first, clean up later" approach is necessary here.

LDC,

I disagree with your changes in this page. You have been changing the ranking of the 2-4 tile incorrectly. 2-4 is a six, 1-2 is a three, they are never ranked the same as you have indicated. In the game of Pai Gow, tiles are always played in pairs, hence the ranking of individual tiles is never come into consideration except to decide the ranking of civilian pairs. Since 2-4 and 1-2 are military tiles, their ranking are based on number of points, as in 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3 in the game of Tien Gow. Again, the ranking of these two individual tiles are irrelevant in the game of Pai Gow because they will never be played individually and when they are played together they become Gee June.

You're right--I just looked up as many references as I could find, and my understanding of Pai Gow was wrong. The Pai Gow hand (1-4 2-4) does in fact beat the hand (2-3 1-2); I previously thought they were tied, because they both count 8 (under the "wild card" rule), and the "five" tile is the higer ranking tile in each pair, and those tiles tie (individual ranks are used to break ties). But the 2-4 does in fact outrank the 2-3, so it wins. Thanks for forcing me to look that up.

I hope you didn't lose money at the Pai Gow table due to the misunderstanding of the game rules. The playing strategy changes when the rules are different. I don't know Pai Gow that well. However, your example does not illustrates the tie-breaking rule clearly. (1-4 2-4) results in a ONE (11 mod 10), (2-3 1-2) results in an EIGHT according to my rule where the 2-4 is counted as a SIX; the tie breaking rule does not apply. But they tie according to yours where the 2-4 is counted as a THREE.

OK, then I'm still unclear about the precise rank of the 2-4 tile with respect to the fives in Pai Gow. Are you saying that it ranks as a three when played as a three, but as a six when played as a six (and presumably the same for the 1-2 tile)? Fortunately, this rule never influences the strategy of the game, since the only way the rank of 2-4 would matter is if it were the higher tile; that can only happen with a five or 1-2, and in either case the tile would never be played as a six--with a five it would always be played as a three, and with 1-2 it's a pair. So it's not possible that I've lost any money by not understanding the rule. Indeed, I've never seen it come into play. But I do want to get it right. Of course I've lost money at this game for many other reasons (like Martinis:-).

You are the expert in Pai Gow. I never spent a penny on Pai Gow gambling. i.e. I have never paid my tuition. So I cannot speak with authority.
My understanding is that the 2-4 is always played as a SIX, the 1-2 is always played as a THREE. In other words, the ranking order is 6, 5, 3, same as in Tien Gow. I didn't know the two tiles are interchangable (wildcard rule) until you mentioned it. You are the expert, you tell me!
Some casino webpage says the 2-4 is ranked as a SIX. Some casino webpage says the 2-4 and 1-2 are lowest in ranking (i.e both always a THREE as ranking) and they can interchange (play as SIX or THREE). I guess the house rules are different from casino to casino.
Whatever the outcome of this discussion, we only settle on the exception rule in the game of Pai Gow. However the ranking of the domino set should go by the rule of thumb, rank by its points. I am glad that you have changed the webpage to reflect the general rule. I don't object if you emphasize the difference in Pai Gow ranking if you can confirm what it actually is.

I have zero familiarity with Chinese dominoes, but I do have a question: The article right now says that "The tile set contains two each of eleven civilian suit tiles (6-6, 1-1, 4-4, 1-3, 5-5, 3-3, 2-2, 5-6, 4-6, 1-6, 1-5) and one each of ten military suit tiles (3-6, 4-5; 2-6, 3-5; 2-5, 3-4; 2-4; 1-4, 2-3; 1-2)." It further says that for the civilian tiles that the order given is the traditional order (for lack of a better term). Is the same also strictly true for the military tiles (i.e. do I break the traditional listing order by, using the nines as an example, putting 4-5 and then 3-6)?

The civilian suit tiles are listed in the traditional ranking order, e.g. 6-6 beats 1-1, 1-1 beats 4-4 etc. The number of pips on the tiles plays no role in the ranking. The military suit tiles are ranked according to the total pips on the tiles. i.e. the 9s beat the 8s, the 8s beat the 7s etc. For any piece in equal rank, the tile played first beat the tile that follows. Hence, 4-5, 3-6 and 3-6, 4-5 are both valid order. Note the use of semi-colon and comma in the list. Kowloonese 17:42, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. I think I understand the reason for the order now. 67.10.111.125 03:20, 17 June 2006 (UTC) (Forgot the tildes when I first asked)