Romanization Systems

Chinese Romanization

Pinyin is now the accepted Romanization system for Chinese in libraries in the United States and Canada. It replaces the Wade-Giles system which was in use for almost 100 years. The two systems are different, as can be seen from the following example of the Romanization for "China" (中国):

  • Pinyin: Zhongguo
  • Wade-Giles: Chung-kuo

Online Catalog:

Most records in the online catalog have been converted to pinyin. A limited number of older records are still in Wade-Giles and can only be found in UW Only Catalog searching. Please ask the Tateuchi East Asia Library Information Desk for help.

Card Catalog:

Chinese entries in the card catalog are entirely in Wade-Giles and will not be changed to pinyin. The library will keep the card catalog as long as necessary as a backup to our online catalog.

Pinyin—Wade-Gile Conversion tables are available at various locations in the libraries and on the China Studies Reference, Dictionaries, and Encylopedias page of this web site.

Searching Tip

In Wade-Giles Romanization aspirated and unaspirated sounds are distinguished by a special diacritic mark resembling an apostrophe; for example: chi and ch'i (ji and qi in Pinyin). In the online catalog such "words" file together in one sequence, however in the card catalog they are filed in separate sequences. The words without an apostrophe come first, followed by the words with an apostrophe. This means that "Chi, Chen-huai" would be first in the filing sequence for chi. "Ch'i, Chao-nan" would be found in the ch'i sequence which begins after the last entry in the chi sequence (which is "chi yun yen chiu").

Japanese Romanization

Modified Hepburn Romanization is used for Japanese. It is nearly identical to the Hepburn system employed in the Kenkyusha dictionaries.

Searching Tip

In 1983 the Library of Congress made a change in the Romanization rules for Japanese. Previously, the letter "m" was used before "b," "m," and "p." After the spring of 1983, libraries began to use the letter "n" before "b," "m," and "p." For example, "kempo" became "kenpo" and the surname "Homma" became "Honma." In cases such as this, it is beneficial to search under both methods of Romanization for materials published prior to 1984.

Korean Romanization

The McCune-Reischauer system as modified by the Library of Congress is used for Korean library records in the United States and Canada. It is different from the official Romanization system devised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism which was approved for use on July 4, 2000 by the Republic of Korea.