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#21051 - 03/04/01 02:26 AM Crouching Diger
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
I have just got back from seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which has finally made it to my backwater. I loved it, but its Taoist imagery got me wondering why, even under the current transliteration/transcription system, we don't spell Tao the way it sounds. Any ideas?


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#21052 - 03/04/01 03:46 PM Re: Crouching Diger
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
Are you implying that I pronounce it incorrectly?


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#21053 - 03/04/01 03:53 PM Re: Crouching Diger
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
Are you implying that I pronounce it incorrectly?

Not at all. It's just that I was taught that "Tao" should be pronounced "Dao", and, if this is correct, I wondered why the system used to transcribe Chinese into English doesn't just spell it that way.

Another small point from the film I found interesting was that the subtitles consistently used "Peking" whenever the characters said the word "Beijing." Sinophiles to the rescue, please.


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#21054 - 03/04/01 06:21 PM Re: Crouching Diger
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Max,
I had this discussion with Bridget (the one who lives in Oz) a few months back, and I brought up the same questions you just did... She had some answers, I recall, but it still seems like faulty transliteration to me. Look at feng shui , for example. It's pronounced "fung shway." I beseech someone with a faster computer to dig up the thread. It was here in Miscellany.


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#21055 - 03/04/01 11:57 PM Re: transliterations
Shoshannah Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Jerusalem, ISRAEL
In reply to:

...but it still seems like faulty transliteration to me.


We have a tremendous problem with this in Israel - walk down almost any street and you see the name of the street spelled in Hebrew, Arabic and English, but on the street signs, the English spelling (transliteration) might be spelled at least two different ways - well, it could be a third, you see, at the beginning of the next block, if, in fact, the next block has the same street name... yes, it is true that, since we have lots of people to honor but simply not enough streets to name, sometimes one block of a street will have one name while the name changes with the beginning of the next block... this makes being a tour guide tons of fun, don't ya know! [depressed again at not having any tourists to guide emoticon]

Shoshannah

_________________________
suzanne pomeranz, tourism consultant jerusalem, israel - suztours@gmail.com

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#21056 - 03/05/01 04:38 AM Re: transliterations
belligerentyouth Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Berlin
I'm going to see this film tomorrow, as I didn't have time to see it up 'til now :-)
BTW, in German, 'Tao' is pronounced 'ta-oh', and in English I would have guessed 'tay-oh', or 'day-oh' if you will.


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#21057 - 03/05/01 06:06 AM Re: Crouching Diger
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
I think that the transliteration system has undergone changes in recent years. Chinese words are spelled "more phonetically" now than they used to be. As an example of the old system, I offer you my friend's friend's name, which was apparently spelled "Qong" but said "Gong". But the word "Tao" made its way into English usage a long time ago, compared to the relatively recent spelling changes, so it stays "Tao" pronounced "Dao", I guess.


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#21058 - 03/05/01 10:52 AM Re: Averages
wow Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 3439
Loc: New England, USA
The Dao of Jones?
wow


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#21059 - 03/05/01 01:44 PM Re: transliterations
Fiberbabe Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 771
Loc: Portland, Oregon
>...'day-oh' if you will.

Daylight come and me wanna go home. Oh, somebody had to say it!!!

In my cursory but immersed exposure to Asian languages, I'd tend to believe that it has something to do with all the tonal vowels ~ dipthongs that are impossible to spell with English's inadequate septumvirate. [Ooh! Look at me, I made a new word! emoticon]

As for the "t"/"d" thing, I'm ready to guess it's the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese "l"/"r" pronunciation issue. A hard "t" is roughly the same as a "d" within the spoken language.

And just this summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Beijing (see picture on Max's myspace.com account). They still call it Peking. I'm not sure why.


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#21060 - 03/05/01 07:35 PM Re: transliterations
Shoshannah Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Jerusalem, ISRAEL
In reply to:

As for the "t"/"d" thing, I'm ready to guess it's the Chinese equivalent of the Japanese "l"/"r" pronunciation issue. A hard "t" is roughly the same as a "d" within the spoken language.


We have a similar problem here in the Middle East - of course, no westerner I know can say the letter 'ayin' (present in both Hebrew & Arabic) as it's said way back in the throat.

But the most interesting sound, I think, is the one written with a 'Gh' (in transliteration) but pronounced as if it's an 'Rh' as in the name of the only Alawite (smallish sect of Islam for the uninitiated) village in Israel - way up in the north - it's the one in the area that Lebanon claims is their territory, but it became part of Israel in the 1967 war when Israel 'won' it from Syria - in what's called both the Mt. Dov and Sheba Farms area - the village is spelled (in transliteration from Arabic to English) Ghajar but pronouced Rhajar (with a slight roll on the 'r' - I would NOT recommend you try saying that three times real fast!). The most famous person I know of with the same sound in his name - same transliteration, same pronunciation - is Boutros Boutros Ghali (pronounced Rhali with that little roll on the 'r').

Of course, the obvious question is "why don't they just write it with the 'rh' instead of with the 'gh' and the only answer I have is, I DON'T KNOW!

Now wasn't that fun?!

Shoshannah

_________________________
suzanne pomeranz, tourism consultant jerusalem, israel - suztours@gmail.com

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