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Tag: pinyin

I’ve made a Firefox extension that converts pinyin with tone numbers into pinyin with tone marks. The specifics of the conversion process are identical to those of the online pinyin converter I wrote earlier.

After installing the extension, a blue square will appear on the right side of the status bar at the bottom of your Firefox web browser. To use the tool, type some pinyin with tone numbers into any plain text field on any web page. Then highlight the text and click on the blue 拼 on your status bar. It will convert the tone numbers into the appropriate marks over the appropriate

For example, if you type in “zhong1wen2”, highlight it and hit the button, then it will be converted into “zhōngwén”.

Thanks to John for feedback on the design, and to Wayne and Andrew for testing on Mac and Linux machines.

Go to the download page to get it.

Muninn has made my Pinyin Tone Tool into something more useful– an OS X dashboard widget!

I’m happy to announce the results of a few hours of tinkering: The Pinyin Tone Widget. This OS X dashboard widget will take a series of Chinese pinyin words with tone numbers appended at the end of each syllable and will add the tone marks where appropriate (e.g. zhong1guo2 becomes zhōngguó).

Get it while it’s hot.

For the first time in years, I’m absolutely floored by a new Chinese IME. Google just came out of nowhere, slapped their Google Pinyin up for download and humbled the competition. Like other IMEs, Google Pinyin uses a word’s context to figure out which character to input. It’s just a lot better at it. I really can’t get over how intelligent this IME is. It handles mis-ordered n’s and g’s or z’s and h’s, and it’s even pretty good about knowing when just output English.

Google Pinyin Rocks!!!Just as Microsoft has, Google has put far more work into input for mainland users than for those using traditional characters in Taiwan. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Google Pinyin can be set to output traditional characters. Even though I’m much more used to using zhuyin input, I find Google Pinyin to be faster than Microsoft’s traditional Chinese IME, especially if I’m typing full paragraphs of text. It really saves a lot of time not having to switch out of the IME every time I want to type a punctuation mark.

Setting Google Pinyin to output traditional Chinese

Just click on the pair of cogs at the right hand side of the Google Pinyin toolbar, then select 属性没值, click the 词典 tab, click the 繁体模式 checkbox and then accept. You’ll then be typing in traditional characters!

Update: Holly, Fili, Mark S., and Brendan have all written about Google Pinyin, too.

I’ve recently added quicktags to Commenters here have always been able to use various HTML tags, such as <i>, <b>, <a>, and <blockquote>. For those commenters who run their own sites and are familiar with HTML, it’s been usable. Still, I want to make it a bit easier for people who aren’t so familiar with HTML to format their comments. That’s what quicktags are for.
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Several people have pointed me towards this piece, which is directed at Mark S. of, and other Taiwan bloggers, including myself. In it, Tonyong Pinyin supporter, Mark Caltonhill (why oh why does he have to be named Mark, too?), tells foreign bloggers to “shut up and fit in”.
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Tone Marks on Roadsigns Part IMark’s opening argument.
Tone Marks on Roadsigns Part IIPrince Roy’s opening argument.
Tone Marks on Roadsigns Part IIIMark’s rebuttal.
Tone Marks on Roadsigns Part IVPrince Roy’s rebuttal.

What should the road signs have on them?

  • Mark was right, characters and pinyin with tones (42%, 22 Votes)
  • Prince Roy was right, characters and pinyin without tones (31%, 16 Votes)
  • Nothing but oracle bone script, you wusses (12%, 6 Votes)
  • Only characters, foreigners who can't read them suck (10%, 5 Votes)
  • Whatever the guerrilla tone-markers deem fit (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Only pinyin, it's about time the locals learn it (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 52

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Dueling Lăowài is a new feature on This is my rebuttal of Prince Roy’s arguments against adding tone marks to roadsigns. If you missed the opening arguments of our friendly debate, be sure to check them out!
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Dueling Lăowài is a new feature on Each “duel” will consist of four pieces by two writers: each writer will write one opening argument and one rebuttal.
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While I was walking along the street in Shanghai, I noticed something unfamilar about some of the posters. They had pinyin for each character! Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have that in Taiwan!

Something you won't see in TawianSomething you won’t see in Tawian Hosted on Zooomr

I’ve been posting a bit on a great new Taiwan podcasting blog, Wan An Taipei. First off, let me say it’s got the potential to be a great blog, and that JT’s English pronunciation is good enough that I couldn’t tell he was Taiwanese through the first half of his podcast that I listened too. One thing that struck me as odd though, was the way he said 晚安 and then “Taipei” right together. I’ve seen the handouts at the airports saying to pronounce it “tie-bay”. I know tons of foreigners ignore those. Still, it sounded weird to hear a Chinese guy to pronounce a Chinese name in the middle of a Chinese sentence based on a messed up romanization of said Chinese word. To me it was kind of like and English speaker pronouncing “tennis” as “tennie” the way a French person would, but doing so in the middle of an English sentence. Maybe it would be like this: “Let’s play tennie if it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” JT asked for feedback on his site, so I told him it sounded weird to me. Today, he posted a great question:

Recently there’s a question that really intrigues me. Why is Taipei not “Taibei”? It’s actually the first time that came across my mind.

I spent a while writing what is possibly the longest comment I’ve ever written on someone else’s blog. Then, I decided that if I’m interested enough in the topic to write so much, it might as well go on my blog. Here’s my comment in its entirety:

The reason is this: in the past, Taiwan used a method of romanization called Wade-Giles. Wade-Giles uses apostrophes to denote whether or not a sound is voiced. For example, “p” in pinyin is “p`” in Wade-Giles, while “b” is “p”. In a similar way, “k” in pinyin is “k`” in Wade-Giles, and “g” in pinyin is “k” in Wade-Giles.

Unfortunately, the Taiwanese government decided to use Wade-Giles WITHOUT the apostrophes. As a result, it became impossible to distinguish between voiced and unvoiced sounds. All p’s and b’s, were written as p’s; all k’s and g’s became k’s; and all t’s and d’s became t’s. Thus, all words that would be “taipei”, “taibei”, “daipei”, OR “daibei” in standard pinyin became “taipei” according to the ROC.

When I first moved to 臺北 (tái bĕi), all of the MRT stations used this horrible system. For example, 古亭 was written as “kuting”. From this, it was impossible for me to tell if those characters should be pronounced as “kuting”, “kuding”, “guting”, or “guding”. It turns out the third choice was the correct one (gŭ tíng).

I cannot even begin to explain how many difficulties I had asking people how to get to places back when I didn’t know many characters. Fortunately for everybody, the mayor of 臺北 (tái bĕi) actually listened when a lot of foreigners complained about this problem 3 years ago. Unlike most politicians who felt that romanization should be based on political agendas, he actually considered the needs of the people romanization was originally made for (non-Chinese speakers who can’t read hanzi).

Now, nearly all of the street signs (in Taibei) and MRT signs have been corrected and now use standard pinyin. The one biggest exception is the word “Taipei”. Since it has been a well known name for a long time, it is much harder to change its written form to match the way it is pronounced. Just think how long it took people to start writing “Beijing” instead of “Peking”. It may be just as long before “Taibei” starts appearing on street signs.

If any of you are interested in how to write words in Wade-Giles, there is conversion chart on Wikipedia.