Romanization Rumble: GR vs Pinyin
A couple weeks ago Zrv issued this challenge to Pinyin-lovers:
As an interesting experiment, see if you can find a paragraph-long passage written in both GR [Gwoyeu Romatzyh] and pinyin. Even if you don’t know GR well, I think you’ll find that just glancing over it, it looks much more like a real written language.
It sounded better to me than responding to clients’ emails, but I didn’t have a paragraph of GR handy. Then I remembered that someone out there had created a romanization converter.
|Tán Zhōngguó de “yǔ” hé “wén” de wèntí, wǒ juéde zuìhǎo néng xiān liǎojiě yīxià zài Zhōngguó tōngyòng de yǔyán. Zhōngguó de zhǔyào yǔyán yǒu nǎxiē? Wèishénme wǒ shuō zhège, ér bù shuō nàge? Yīnwei huánjìng? Yīnwei bèi qiǎngpò? Yīnwei wǒ ài zhège yǔyán? Yīnwei yǒu bìyào? Yīnwei zhè ge yǔyán hěn zhòngyào? Yě xiǎngxiang shénme shì Zhōngguórén de gòngtóng yǔyán? Yòng yīge gòngtóng yǔyán yǒu bìyào ma? Wèishenme? Biéde Hànyǔ de qùxiàng huì zěnmeyàng? Rúguǒ nǐ shǐyòng Zhōngguó de gòng tóng yǔyán Pǔtónghuà, nǐ liǎojiě zhège yǔyán de yǔfǎ (bǐrú “de” hé “le” de bùtóng yǒngfǎ) ma? Zhīdao zhège yǔyán de jīběn yīnjié (bù bàokuò shēngdiào) zhǐ yǒu 408 ge ma?||Tarn Jonggwo .de “yeu” her “wen” .de wenntyi, woo jyue.de tzueyhao neng shian leaujiee ishiah tzay Jonggwo tongyonq .de yeuyan. Jonggwo .de juuyaw yeuyan yeou naashie? Weyshern.me woo shuo jeh.ge, erl buh shuo nah.ge? In.uei hwanjinq? In.uei bey cheangpoh? In.uei woo ay jeh.ge yeuyan? In.uei yeou bihyaw? In.uei jeh .ge yeuyan heen jonqyaw? Yee sheang.shiang shern.me shyh Jonggworen .de gonqtorng yeuyan? Yonq i.ge gonqtorng yeuyan yeou bihyaw .ma? Wey.shen.me? Bye.de Hannyeu .de chiuhshianq huey tzeen.meyanq? Ruguoo nii shyyyonq Jonggwo .de gonq torng yeuyan Puutornghuah, nii leaujiee jeh.ge yeuyan .de yeufaa (biiru “.de” her “.le” .de buhtorng yeongfaa) .ma? Jy.dau jeh.ge yeuyan .de jibeen injye (buh bawkuoh shengdiaw) jyy yeou 408 .ge .ma?|
Maybe someone who knows more GR than I do (practically anyone) can see if the GR needs any tweaking. I notice, for example, that the converter uses “.ge” to indicate neutral tone 个. Originally I thought that was wrong and it should be just “g”. After all, that’s the convention that gives us “ig” for 一个! But as far as I understand it now after a bit more research, “.ge” is a perfectly reasonable alternative to just “g” without the “e” or the dot. They indicate the same thing.
Beyond that, which one looks more like a “real written language”?
Honestly, I think that’s like the question of which foreign language “sounds better” — it depends on who you ask and what you’re used to. In this case, reacting to GR as a beginner, I can see some arguments on both sides.
“Real language” (according to English speakers)
- Some letter clusters seem more English-like, so maybe the familiarity is comforting to those of us who know English: -arn, -uey, -eau.
- No Q and X, which of course play a minimal role in English orthography
- Those pesky periods
- “shyyyong” — no kidding