Happy 106th Birthday To Zhou Youguang ???, The Father Of Hanyu Pinyin

Everyone who has studied Chinese owes a debt to Zhou Youguang ???, considered the father of Hanyu Pinyin, the romanization scheme for Mandarin.

On January 13th Professor Zhou turned 106. Not only is he still alive, he published his most recent book-“????”-last year. And something he said today at his party encouraging people to think independently was forwarded hundreds of times on Sina Weibo: “??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Professor Zhou is known for speaking his mind, as he did in this September 2009 interview with Bloomberg-Chinese 103-Year-Old Wall Street Emigrant Sees End of Communism.

I know about Professor Zhou’s birthday because Phoenix TV ordered a special birthday cake from CCSweets, my much better half’s cake and cupcake shop (Beijing’s best, but what would you expect me to say?). Phoenix asked for something special, so CCSweets made two cakes, one an edible version of his most recent book, the other an edible facsimile of a mid 20th century style typewriter, down to the delicious chocolate keys.

Apparently Professor Zhou was very happy, declaring that there is only one cake like this in the world (??????????????????) and saying it was so beautiful he wasn’t sure he could eat it, so please just put it aside for a couple of days.

Happy Birthday Professor Zhou, thank you for giving us Pinyin and making Chinese a bit less impenetrable, and I hope we can make you a cake for your 110 birthday too.

Professor Zhou with the cakes and PhoenixTV host Shen Xing @??:

The typewriter cake:

The book cake:

You can follow me on Weibo @billbishop and on Twitter @niubi, and you can follow CCSweets on Weibo @ccsweets???? and on Twitter @ccsweets.

6 thoughts on “Happy 106th Birthday To Zhou Youguang ???, The Father Of Hanyu Pinyin

  1. Happy Birthday to The Father Of Pinyin | Wooshe!

  2. Happy birthday to the inventer of pinyin! « The (Y)east Also Rises

  3. “Everyone who has studied Chinese owes a debt” to him? I think not. I was perfectly happy with the Yale system I started on. Wade-Giles is OK, too. Problems with pinyin include the inconsistent use of umlauts and the different pronunciations of the final “i”.

  4. “Everyone who has studied Chinese owes a debt” to him? I think not. I was perfectly happy with the Yale system I started on. Wade-Giles is OK, too. Problems with pinyin include the inconsistent use of umlauts and the different pronunciations of the final “i”.

  5. I thought pinyin was constructed with the help of grammarians from Romania. No?

    I agree with Hanmeng that the Yale system makes most sense to an English speaker but concede a pinyin with more universal sense to other languages was necessary, not necessarily pinyin in its present form but something less idiosyncratic.

  6. I thought pinyin was constructed with the help of grammarians from Romania. No?

    I agree with Hanmeng that the Yale system makes most sense to an English speaker but concede a pinyin with more universal sense to other languages was necessary, not necessarily pinyin in its present form but something less idiosyncratic.

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