Da Hsueh


Earlier I identified the phonetic system used to transliterate the name of my university as Gwoyeu Romatzyh 國語羅馬字. Today I look at the official address for my school, which was recently updated by the administration and all departments were required to follow suite. Accordingly, both the homepage of the university and my name card say the university is located at No. 1, Sec. 2, Da Hsueh Rd.” 大學路二段一號. The weird thing is, there is no phonetic system I know of which would spell the word for university” 大學 as Da Hsueh”!

Returning to Mark Swofford’s handy chart we see that the only system spelling 學 as Hsueh is Postal System Pinyin (which is similar to what the chart lists as Wade-Giles”, but lacks diacritics). This makes sense since one needs to use the correct postal system spelling to get mail to its destination. But if it is indeed Postal System Pinyin, shouldn’t it be Ta Hsueh”?

To investigate further, I tried out the handy transliteration tool on the post office web site. That page produced results in two systems: Tongyong Pinyin 通用拼音, in which the word is spelled Dasyue” and Hanyu Pinyin 漢語拼音 in which the word is spelled Daxue”. It is interesting that Hanyu Pinyin is provided as an alternative, since the Tongyong is favored by the ruling party (the DPP); however, it makes sense since several regions of Taiwan (including KMT ruled Taipei and Taipei county) now use Hanyu Pinyin.

As far as I can tell, there is no system in which Da Hsueh” would be correct.

So, my work address effectively combines three different phonetic systems: Gwoyeu Romatzyh for the university name, Tongyong (or possibly Hanyu) Pinyin for the word 大, and what used to be called Postal System Pinyin for the word 學. Since the Postal Service no longer seems to use a modified Wade-Giles, I suppose the university should pick either Tongyong Pinyin or Hanyu Pinyin for the address; but such standardization would just seem so un-Taiwanese.

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