Michael Everson everson at
Tue Sep 9 09:50:56 CEST 2008

On 9 Sep 2008, at 06:31, Doug Ewell wrote:

> John Cowan <cowan at ccil dot org> wrote:
>>> Nobody has seriously proposed making 'pinyin' a generic variant like
>>> 'fonipa'.  At most they have suggested that a small set of languages
>>> be added as multiple Prefix fields.
>> On the contrary, that is exactly what Michael has proposed: making  
>> the  subtag 'pinyin' mean 'any romanization called pin1yin1 in  
>> Chinese,  except for wei1tuo3ma3 pin1yin1, otherwise known as Wade- 
>> Giles
>> romanization.

That's not so. It is the orthographic conventions that make an  
orthography Pinyin-based, not whether the word pin1yin1 is used in  

>> Accordingly, I believe that the best course of action is *not* to
>> specify a prefix.
> Previously I thought he was proposing "zh" to allow all Chinese,  
> with an
> option to add "bo" and others on a one-off basis.
> I agree that this is excessive, though I would not have said that  
> about  "zh".  You can't write just any imaginable language in Pinyin  
> -- any Pinyin -- the way you can write any language in IPA.

No, but you can write a number of languages of China in Pinyin-based  
romanizations. You can't write just any imaginable language in UPA  
either. (Well, you could, but you don't.. just a number of Uralic  

(And you could transcribe other languages like Engish or Turkish in  
Pinyin; it just wouldn't work very well. I wonder if there are pinyin- 
based Berlitz-style transcriptions for Chinese tourists.)

Michael Everson *

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