[Uim] uim-py: Adding idioms to PY.scm

Jon Babcock jon at kanji.com
Tue Apr 6 18:26:29 EEST 2004

Yukiko Bando wrote:

> Traditional Chinese characters look more familiar to me than 
> simplified ones, but it seems impossible to convert Zhuyin to Pinyin 
> properly without  good knowledge about the language.

There are occasional differences between the accepted *Mandarin*
pronunciation of a word given by the authorities in Taiwan and those in
the PRC, especially regarding tone. But in the vast majority of cases
they are the same. Whether they are transliterated using Pinyin or
Zhuyin doesn't affect the pronunciation of the word. And whether they
are written using simplified or traditional Chinese doesn't affect the
Mandarin pronunciation either.

> I just started learning the standard  Chinese and would like to keep 
> my PY.scm pure Mandarin to avoid confusion.;-)

It doesn't matter whether you use Zhuyin or Pinyin or
Wade Giles or Yale, etc., simplified or traditional, the language we are
trying to represent is "Mandarin".

What is Mandarin? AFAIK, Mandarin is a translation of the Chinese term
guanhua (官話). There are differences in the Mandarin (官話) of one area
and another, of one time and another. There is government-mandated
*standard* language, Guoyu or Putonghua (国語 or 普通 話), but I don't
think there is any such thing as 'pure' Mandarin. Mandarin (官話), by
definition, is a hybrid. In the Qing, they thought of Mandarin as
divided into three general areas, Beijing Mandarin (北京官話), Nanjing
Mandarin (南京官話), and Western Mandarin (西方官話). Bejinghua (北京
話), as it is spoken and used, is not exactly the same as
Guoyu/Putonghuan (国語/普通話), although Guoyu/Putonghua (国語/普通話)
is based on Beijing Mandarin (北京官話) which was largely based on
Peijinghua (北京話). This is my amateur understanding of it, and I
welcome corrections.

> I would rather improve it by rearranging words that appear in 
> candidate lists as well as adding missing words one by one.  Sorry if
>  I  have disappointed you...

Not at all. I'm too old to worry about being disappointed <g>. I'm happy
someone is doing something. I think you're doing a great job and hope
you keep it up. I commend you for making the effort to learn Chinese!
I'll try to do more as time permits. Maybe, in some small way,  I can 
help the native Chinese speakers build a great input system.

> But if you send me a list of pinyin and  corresponding words in a 
> spreadsheet, I think I can convert it to  TSI_PY.scm using my tool, 
> which is probably the easiest part of your project though.

I'll do that once I convert tsi.src from Zhuyin to Pinyin. Thanks.

> For good or bad, people continue to coin new  words.

That's for sure!

<rant>As usual, much of the "problem" of "words" in Chinese goes away as
soon as we stop trying to force Western, generally Latin & Greek-based,
ideas of grammar and linguistic terminology onto Chinese.  There are 
well-known and clear terms for what we are talking about, terms that has 
been used for many centuries within the realm of Kanji Culture (漢字文 
化), zi and ci, 字 and 辭, to name the most obvious. And if we add 文字, 
熟語, 親字, etc., we can develop a rich vocabulary that is adequate for 
discussing Chinese *in its own terms* without recourse to Latin-based 
words and concepts. I've never understood why Western scholars, with few 
exceptions, failed to do this, to at least start their studies by doing 


Jon Babcock <jon at kanji.com>

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