A suggestion to add the word "識" to the "Table of Modifications" of the ALA-LC Romanization Table for Chinese

Teresa Mei

Cornell University

From the Library of Congress Pinyin Conversion Project website (http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/pinyin/pinyin.html) we learn that many changes are under way. One change is that the new Romanization Table for Chinese transliteration, based on Pinyin Romanization, will appear in the next edition of the ALA-LC Romanization tables. Since the Chinese Romanization table of the ALA-LC Romanization table is going to be revised, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that the work "識" be added to the Chinese Romanization table in the section called "Table of Modifications to Romanizations".

The character "識" has two meanings, when it is pronounced "shi", it means to recognize, to know, to be acquinted with, to distinguish. When it is pronounced "zhi", it means to remember, to record.

For example:

"Shi":"文學知識" is "shi";

"Zhi":"文學識小" is "zhi".

I searched the word "識" in RLIN, and obtained 455 clusters in book format. Among the 455 clusters, at least in 96 clusters the word "識" should have been romamized as "zhi".

Examples are:















Among the 455 clusters, two titles in Japanese the word "識語" should have been romanized as "shigo" instead of "shikigo". Japanese "shiki" corresponds to Chinese "shi"; Japanese "shi" corresponds to Chinese "zhi". These two titles are: "O Taku gyosho shikigo" and "Chugoku kodai shahon shikigo shuroku".
The compound word "識語" according to Dai Kan-Wa jiten, v. 10, p. 589 (Tokyo, Taishishukan, 1984-1986). is pronounced "shigo". "Shigo" or "zhiyu" is a style of text commentary. It is often part of a preface, or an afterword added to the text, with the editor's name and date of editing. Therefore "shigo" means to record the editor's word.

To support my suggestion, I would give two arguments. One is based on the lingusitics, and one on examples found in dictionaries.
From the standpoint of linguistics, we may begin with the Middle Chinese (7th to 9th century) values of the two pronunciations for the word "ÃÑ".

1. to recognize, to know MC 'sjak>shi
2. to remember, to record MC t'si->zhi

There are two differences. (a) Form 1 is in the Entering tone; form 2 is in the Departing tone. (b) The initials of forms 1 and 2 are different. Form 1 has MC 's- (palatalized s-), and form 2 has MC t's- (palatalized ts-). According to the theories of Andre Haudricout ("Comment reconstruire le chinois archaique" Word 10 (1954), 351-64) and F.K. Li ("Studies on Archaic Chinese Phonology", Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies 9, 1-2 (1971), 1-61), both differences can be explained.
Adding an Archaic Chinese *-s to syllables ending in -p, -t, -k would convert the Entering tone into Departing tone in MC. Adding an Archaic Chinese prefix *s- would result in MC s-. So the two forms of "識" are cognates in Archaic Chinese:

1. to recognize, to know AC *sthjak>MC 'sjak>shi
2. to remember, to record AC *tjaks>MC t'si->zhi

In terms of dictionaries, the following authorities give the character "識" pronounced as both "shi" and "zhi":

Dai Kan-Wa jiten. Tokyo : Taishukan, 1984-1986. v. 10, p. 588.

Hanyu dajidian. Wuhan : Hubei, Sichuan cishu chubanshe, 1986-1990. v. 6, p. 4020

Giles, Herbert Allen. Chinese-English dictionary, 1964. pp. 1214-1215.

Kangorin. Tokyo : Taishukan, 1987. p. 937.

Xiandai Hanyu cidian. Beijing : Shangwu yinshuguan, 1996. pp. 1141, 1621.

Chongbian guoyu cidian. Taipei : Taiwan shangwu yinshuguan, 1981. v. 4, p. 3464 and v. 5, p. 4029.

In sum, the word "識" has two pronunciations associated respectively with two different meanings. When the meaning is "to reconized, to know", it should be romanized in Pinyin as "shi"; when the meaning is "to remember, to record", it should be romanized as "zhi".

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