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Why is it spelled Xi'an?

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mod

Joined: 2005-04-24
Points: 648
*Posted: Submitted by wtanaka (648) on Fri, 2006-01-13 08:01. | Subject: Why is it spelled Xi'an?

One thing I always used to wonder was why I saw Xi'an spelled with the apostrophe when other cities in China were not.

Xi'an, written in Chinese, has 2 characters.  The first (西), meaning West, is pronounced "xi" and the second (安) meaning "peace" is pronounced "an." 

However, by itself, that doesn't necessitate an apostrophe.  After all other cities (北京: Beijing, 上海: Shanghai) have two characters but no apostrophe.

The issue is that in Chinese, there's another group of characters (现, 先, 线, 显, ...) which are pronounced and romanized as "xian" (a single syllable).  The Chinese romanization system already has enough trouble with the same romanized spelling meaning many different characters and tones, that when there's a potential ambiguity like this one, apostrophes are used to make it clear where the splits between characters are.

Sometimes, a combination of characters will require an apostrophe.  For example, 

pingan could mean either ping'an or pin'gan, so the apostrophe is actually required.

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macrohot's picture

Joined: 2006-01-18
Points: 2
*Posted: Wed, 2006-01-18 07:15 | Subject: The chinese romanization

The chinese romanization system just to explain the tones and how to read it. if the second characters begin with "a,e,i,o,u" it must use a apostrophe.

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mod

Joined: 2005-04-24
Points: 648
*Posted: Wed, 2006-01-18 13:47 | Subject: It's not always the case

It's not always the case that if the second character starts with a vowel, the romanization is ambiguous.

For example, yongan (yong an) wouldn't need an apostrophe.  there is no sound "yon", so there's only one way to interpret "yongan"

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macrohot's picture

Joined: 2006-01-18
Points: 2
*Posted: Thu, 2006-01-19 11:04 | Subject: Yes, you are right. if you

Yes, you are right. if you remember" b p m f d t n l g k h zh ch sh j q x y z"  and " a o e i u v ai ei ui an en in ...etc" you can easy to read it. 

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Joined: 2006-03-06
Points: 2
*Posted: Mon, 2006-03-06 10:46 | Subject: That`s why Chinese is

That`s why Chinese is complex and difficult to learn. 

 

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