Tracey, Niall niall.tracey at
Fri Sep 26 11:51:40 CEST 2008

After my last post, I've realised there's another technical/design concern to be addressed:

Most Chinese computers use pinyin as their main textual input method, correct? If computers are capable of converting pinyin to Chinese script, then we can assume that a lot of systems designers will chose to display content tagged as Hanyu pinyin in the Chinese script by default, as it is generally easier for a native to read that way.

If the pinyin is going to be converted to Chinese script, then the uniformity of the phonetic conventions across the various pinyins should not be our main concern -- it should be the consistency of the mapping of pinyin<->script. Here we suddenly have to concern ourselves not only with minor variations in conventions, but also with quite significant variations in the form and pronunciation of words.

The original request was for a tag for Hanyu Pinyin, and anything marked with a tag unambiguously representing Hanyu Pinyin should be able to be mapped to Madarin in the Chinese script, with the exception of typos, misspellings and the odd non-Mandarin name. As I understand it, at present we are not able to mandate a prefix that would give us that unambiguous definition, so introducing a generic "-pinyin" would introduce ambiguity.

So as far as I can see, the only computer-friendly option is to have a tag specifically for Hanyu Pinyin, whatever name you choose to give it.


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