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Kinas ofullbordade revolution : om romanisering av kinesiska språket


  • Gunnar Norrman

Summary, in English

This paper deals with questions of romanization of the Chinese language. It examines the history of phonetic Chinese transcription and writing systems, from the first occurrences of such systems in the 16th century to the present day.
The paper’s main focus is on the two systems Gwoyeu Romatzyh and Latinxua Sinwenz which were in use from the 1920s to the 1940s and aimed at replacing Chinese characters as a writing system.
The paper raises the questions: why the desire to abandon Chinese characters altogether? Is it possible to write Chinese with a phonetic script? And, if the reasons for abandoning the characters are valid and their substitution by a phonetic script is possible, why has this not be done?
The paper is roughly divided into two parts. The first part, in six chapters, begins with a brief history of the early romanization up to the turn fo the 19th century, followed by the bulk of the text concerning historical and technical aspects of Gwoyeu Romatzyh
and Latinxua Sinwenz. The last chapter of the first part is a brief history of the development of the romanization of Chinese language until today.
The second part of the paper concerns a number of theoretical aspects of the romanization of Chinese in general and the two systems under scrutiny in particular. First it deals with the first question posed, i.e. whether the reasons are valid. Then it examines the possibility of romanization by discussing what constitutes a word in Chinese, and problems connected with that definition. It also discusses ortography and written style, and seeks to answer the question why a romanization of Chinese has not been undertaken.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Michael Schoenhals