Gwoyeu Romatzyh

From Academic Kids

Chinese language romanization


For Standard Mandarin


For Standard Cantonese

Min Nan

For Hainanese

For Teochew

For Taiwanese


For Meixian dialect

Gwoyeu Romatzyh (Template:Zh-stp), abbreviated GR, is a romanization (formerly used officially in the Republic of China) with complex spelling rules which allow for tonal distinctions (unlike most other Romanizations, which require additional diacritics or numerals).

As a result its tonal spelling, many letters in Gwoyeu Romatzyh are also used to signify tones and not actual segmental sounds. For example, the Pinyin and Wade-Giles ai is written in GR as one of ai, air, ae, or ay (tones 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively). In this case, "r" is not pronounced and simply indicates tone two. However, tone two is not always indicated by r, as GR's iou, you, yeou, or yow correspond to Pinyin and Wade-Giles you. (See #Tonal rules) Because of these elaborate rules and irregularities, GR is difficult to read and learn, in comparison to the later ROC Romanizations (MPS II and Tongyong Pinyin) as well as the already popular Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin.



Proposed by Lin Yutang, and developed mostly by Y.R. Chao and from 1925 to 1926 also by the Preparatory Commission for the Unification of the National Language, GR was proclaimed by the Republican Government University (國民政府大學院 Guomin Zhengfu Daxueyuan) on September 26, 1928. It appeared in addition to the existing phonetic symbols, the Zhuyin. GR was renamed to Transliteration Symbols (譯音符號 Yiyin Fuhao) in 1940. It was modified into and officially replaced by MPS II in January 1986.

Segmental features

The differences and unique similarities unrelated to tone rendering that GR has with Wade-Giles (Wade) and Hanyu Pinyin (Pinyin):

  • The three symbols, j, ch, and sh, represent six sounds. When followed by "i", they are Pinyin j, q, and x. Otherwise, they correspond to zh, ch, and sh.
  • Y represents both the empty rimes (Wade -u and -ih; Pinyin -i) and i (Wade and Pinyin i). The empty rime y may stand alone or be followed by a consonant. The vowel y is always followed by a vowel (including i), and is never alone.
  • While GR iu is Pinyin/Wade , GR iou is Pinyin/Wade iu.
  • Like Pinyin/Wade iu is spelled out as iou in GR, the Pinyin/Wade un and ui is spelled out as uen and uei.
  • Au is Pinyin/Wade ao.
  • Wade ts (formerly tz) is split into ts for ts' (Pinyin c) and tz for ts (Pinyin z)
  • Like most Romanizations, it has a diacritic mark for the rarely used sound "eh!", which is or , which behaves like e ("uh!"). But when in combination, loses its accent.
  • -ong is as in Pinyin, and unlike Wade's -ung.
  • Like Pinyin, an apostrophe is used to disambiguate syllable sequence.
  • It also has three letters for dialectal sounds: v (万 in extended Zhuyin), ng (兀), and gn (广).

Tonal rules

The additional letter or modified letter (replacement of another) to signify tone is usually done to the vowel or diphthong. The following list number correspond to tone number.

  1. No extra tone-letter is added to tone one, i.e., they are written as if they have no tone, and syllables with other tones are modified from tone one. Except:
    • Those beginning with l, r, m, and n have -h after them. And tone-two syllables with l, r, m, and n initials behave like tone-one syllable.
  2. For tone-two syllables, all vowels (and last vowel of the diphthongs) are followed by r, except:
    • I becomes y, unless it is final, then i has y preceding it: yi.
    • U becomes w, unless it is final, then u has w preceding it: wu.
  3. Tone-three vowels are doubled, except:
    • Diphthongs with a do not double. Instead, the I becomes e or the U becomes o.
    • Note that, for diphthongs without a, the letter that comes first in alphabet order is doubled, i.e.,
      • Double e, not i.
      • Double o, not u.
    • There may also be an additional cosmetic change. See below.
  4. For tone-four syllables, all vowels (and last vowel of the diphthongs) are followed by h, except:
    • Those syllables end in -n double the consonant: -nn.
    • Those end in -l double the consonant: -ll.
    • Those end in -ng become -nq.
    • In diphthongs with final "I" or "U"...
      • I becomes y.
      • U becomes w.
    • There may also be an additional cosmetic change. See below.
  5. A dot (often written as period) is placed before neutral tone syllables (which otherwise appear exactly like those tone-one syllables). However, this is sometimes ignored by writer.

Cosmetic changes

In addition, for purposes of appearance and clarity, some vowels (all i, u, and sometimes e and o) occurring at the beginning of syllable in tones three and four should be replaced or preceded by another letter, provided that there will still be vowel left in the syllable and the changed syllable does not become identical with another.

  • i and e can be replaced or preceded by a y
  • u and o can be replaced or preceded by a w

For syllables in tone three, the y or w should precede the first vowel, except in the cases of iee and uoo, when the y or w should replace the first vowel. For syllables in tone four, when the y or w should replace the first vowel, except that if i or u are complete syllables by themselves, they become yi or wu respectively.


Because r is already used for the consonant and as a tone two marker, el is used instead to signify the Pinyin er.

Erhua (兒化), or rhotacization, is transcribed as is said (surface form), while most other Romanizations express the underlying form. Sometimes, one GR rhotacized form equals several Pinyin forms, for example,

  • Jiel corresponds to the Pinyin jīr and jīnr.
  • Jial corresponds to the Pinyin jīer and jīanr.

The final i, y, and n are deleted when rhotacized. For i, y, and iu, the rhotic el is added, for others, just l.


The following are words or characters that always disobey the rules:

  • The name Romatzyh (should be "Luomaatzyh") is parallel to Roma internationally.
  • Although the tones for the characters "one" (一), "seven" (七), "eight" (八), and "no" (不) change in different contexts, in GR, they are always written yi, chi, ba, and bu, respectively.

External links



Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools