So, would somebody like to tell me what it is?
The internet has just told me that the most common romanization system for Chinese is Hanyu Pinyin. Apparently, the Wade Giles system is also kinda sorta still around. I didn’t know which system the spelling of “feng shui” came from, but this conversion table has informed me that both syllables are the same in both systems. So, it shouldn’t matter, and I’m assuming (I could be wrong… reading takes effort) that “feng shui” is a correct rendering using the Hanyu Pinyin system. And, according to Wikipedia:
In its final form Hanyu Pinyin:
- was used to indicate pronunciation only
- was exclusively based on the pronunciation of the Beijing dialect
- included tone marks
- embodied the traditional “initial sound”, “final sound”, and “suprasegmental tone” model
- was written in the Latin alphabet
So, why the crap is “feng shui” pronounced “fung shway”? Especially considering the first point.
I require answers. How useful is a system that is meant to indicate pronunciation when the words aren’t pronounced the way they’re spelled in English at all? I realize there are rules for how all of the junk in the system are meant to be pronounced. But why should I memorize those, when instead of having to remember that e is more like u, they could just use a freakin’ u? Is it because u is already used for oo? So why can’t they use oo instead of u? I’m not seeing the logic.
Meh. Okay, okay. Wikipedia explains this thusly:
By letting Roman characters refer to specific Chinese sounds, pinyin produces a compact and accurate romanization, which is convenient for native Chinese speakers and scholars. However, it also means that a person who has not studied Chinese or the pinyin system is likely to severely mispronounce words, which is a less serious problem with some earlier romanization systems such as Wade-Giles.
But that doesn’t lessen my confusion. “Feng shui”, which is still “feng shui” using Wade-Giles, which should make mispronouncing words less of a problem, is still not properly pronounced “feng shui”, and I don’t approve.
I mean, really, I’m sure there is a good reason, right?
Yeah. Answers. Immediately.
(P.S. for you uptight asstards reading this that are going to proceed to tell me what that good reason is… you take me too seriously, and I am issuing you a preemptive STFU. I realize that it is not simple to translate one language into the entirely different written form of a second language that does not contain the same phonemes. Go boil your head.)
(You’re the same asstards that get bet out of shape when people say this shit the way it’s spelled. I dunno, I guess most people probably see the purpose of translating Chinese words into the Roman alphabet is to help guide one in saying the crap.)
(For the record, I don’t pronounce it “fung shway”, because I don’t pronounce it at all. Feng shui is for crazies.)