Main | Other Chinese Web Sites

Chinese Cultural Studies: Pinyin/Wade-Giles Names


Although the the pinyin system is easier than the Wade-Giles sytem, some names are so familiar in Wade-Giles, and appear so different in pinyin, that the follwing list might prove useful. It should also be added that, further complicatin the issue, some names are traditionally known in dialect form rather than "correct" Wade-Giles [for instance the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek], others are known from the distinct names given by the Chinese postal service in the early 20th century, and finally some names derive from exclusively European sources, for instance "Formosa" for Taiwan, and "Canton" for "Guangzhou". I have tried to sort all these out below. The table is also a useful reference for dates and so forth.

       Traditional                   Pinyin                    Significance          

PEOPLE [in approx chron.                                                             

Confuci us, K'ung Fu-tsu   Kung Fu Zi 551-479 BCE     philosopher - Confucian        

Lao-tzu                    Laozi 6th C BCE?           philosopher - Daoist           

Mo-tzu                     Mozi, Mo Di 470-391? BCE   philosopher  - Mohist          

Mencius, Meng-tsu          Mengzi, 372-289? BCE       philosopher - Confucian        

Hsün-tzi                   Xun zi 298-235 BCE         philosopher - Confucian        

Sun Tzu                    Sun Zi , c. 5-6th cent.?   war theorist                   

Chuang Chou, Ch'uang-tzu   Zhuangzi c. 300 BCE        philosopher - Daoist           

Shang Yang                 Shang Yang, d. 338 BCE     philosopher - legalist         

Ch'ih-shih Huang Ti        Qin Shi Huang Di           First emperor                  

Ssuma Ch'ien               Sima Qian c.145-85 BCE     historian                      

Han Fei-tzu                Han Fei Zi 280?-233/4 BCE  philosopher - legalist         

Fa-hsien                   Faxian c.399-414 CE        Buddhist traveler              

Chu Hsi                    Zhu Xi 1130-1200 CE        philosopher - neo-Confucian    

Ssuma Kuang                Siam Guang 1019-1086 CE    historian                      

Li T'ai-po                 Li Bo ,c.1200 CE           poet - S. Song dynasty.        

Chu Yüan-chang             Zhu Yuanzhang r.1368-1398  1st Ming  - the Hung Wu        
                           CE                         emperor                        

Tsao Hsueh-chin            Cao Xueqin ?1724-1764 C    novelist - Dream of Red        
                           CE                         Chamber                        

K'ang-hsi                  Kang Xi 1661-1722 CE       2nd Qing emp.                  

Yung Cheng                 Yong Zheng 1723-1736 CE    3rd Qing emp.                  

Ch'ien-lung                Qian Long 1736-1795 CE     4th Qing emp.                  

Tz'u Hsi                   Cixi 1838-1908 CE          the "empress dowager"          


Lu Hsun                    Lu Xun d.1936 CE           modern writer                  


Sun Yat-sen [dialect       Sun 1866-1925 CE           politican - nationalist        
form], Sun Wen                                                                       

Yüan Shih-k'ai             Yuan Shikai, d. 1916 CE    President ROC, 1912            

Ch'iang Kai-shek [dialect  Jiang Jieshi 1888-1975 CE  politician - nationalist       

Mao Tse-tung               Mao Zedong 1893?-1976 CE   Communist leader               

Chou En-lai                Zhou Enlai d. 1976         Communist politician           

Teng Hsiao-peng            Deng Xiaoping              Communist politican            


DIVINE BEINGS                                                                        

Amitabha [Sanskrit]        O-mi-to Fo                 Jap. "Amida", Buddha of        
                                                      Western Paradise               

Maitreya [Sanskrit]        Mi-lo Fo                   the Buddha to come             

Avalokitshvara [Sanskrit]  Guan Yin                   Bodhisattva of Infinite        
Kuan Yin [Wade Giles]                                 Compassion                     


DYNASTY NAMES                                                                        

Shang                      Shang  c. 16C-1027 BCE     Chinese bronze age             

Chou                       Zhou 1027-221 BCE          "classic" period of Chinese    

Ch'in                      Qin 221-206 BCE            origin of western name         

Han                        Han 206 CE-221 CE          now name of ethnic Chinese     

Sui                        Sui 589-618 CE                                            

T'ang                      Tang 618-907 CE                                           

Sung                       Song 960-1127                                             

Yüan [Mongol]              Yuan 1280-1368                                            

Ming                       Ming 1368-1644             means "brilliant"              

Ch'ing [Manchu]            Qing [Manzhou]                                            


Kuomintang [the KMT]       Gua Min Dang, f. 1912 CE   Chinese Nationalist Party      


PLACES - Cities [north to                                                            

Harbin                     Harbin                     in Heilongjiang province       

Kirin                      Jilin                      in Jilin province [Manchuria]  

Ch'angch'un                Changchun                  in Jilin province [Manchuria]  

Shenyang/Fengt'ien/Mukden  Shenyang                   in Liaoning province           

Anshan                     Anshan                     in Liaoning province           

T'angshan                  Tangshan                   in Hebei province              

Dalien/Talien/Dairen       Lüda                                                      

Peking                     Beijing                    "northern capital", cap Yuan,  
                                                      Ming, Qing                     

Tientsin                   Tianjin                                                   

T'aiyuan                   Taiyuan                    in Shanxi province             

Tsinan                     Jinan                      in Shandong province           

Ch'ingtao or Tsingtao      Qingdao                    in Shandong province           

Lanchou                    Lanzhou                    in Gansu province              

K'aifeng                   Kaifeng                    in Henan province, cap. N.     
                                                      Song dyn.                      

Ch'ang-an [now Sian]       Changan [now Xian]         in Henan.  cap. Qin, Han,      
                                                      Sui, & Tang dyns.              

Loyang                     Luoyang                    in Henan, cap. Han dynasty     

Nanking                    Nanjing                    "southern capital", cap. Ming  
                                                      dyn.,  ROC                     

Shanghai                   Shanghai                   largest city in modern China   

Hangchow                   Hangzhou                   In Zhejiang province. cap      
                                                      Sth. Song dyn.                 

Wuhan. inc. Hankow         Wuhan, inc. Hankow         in Hubei province              

Ch'engtu                   Chengdu                    in Sichuan province            

Chungking                  Chongqing                  in Sichuan province            

Ch'angsha                  Changsha                   in Hunan province              

Nanch'ang                  Nangchang                  in Jiangxi province            

Foochow                    Fuzhou                     in Fujian province             

K'unming                   Kunming                    in Yunnan province             

Hsiamen or Amoy            Xiamen                     In Fujian province, old        
                                                      treaty port                    

Canton                     Guangzhou                  in Guangdong province          

Hong Kong                  Xianggang                  British trade port             

Macao                      Aumen                      Portuguese trade port          


PLACES - Provinces [nth.                                                             
to sh]                                                                               

Heilungchiang              Heilongjiang               in Manchuria                   

Kirin                      Jilin                      in Manchuria                   

Liaoning                   Liaoning                   in Manchuria                   

Hopei or Hopeh             Hebei                      around Beijing                 

Shantung                   Shandong                                                  

Shansi                     Shanxi                     loc. of Xian, early Chinese    

Shensi                     Shaanxi                                                   

Kansu                      Gansu                                                     

Ch'inghai                  Qinghai                                                   

Henan                      Honan                      loc. of Luoyang, Tanf cap.     

Anhui                      Anhui                                                     

Kiangsu                    Jiangsu                    location of Nanking            

Szech'uan or Szechwan      Sichuan                    now larges pop. in China       

Hupei or Hupeh             Hubei                                                     

Chekiang                   Zhejiang                   location of Hangzhou           

Hunan                      Guizhou                                                   

Chianghsi or Kiangsi       Jiangxi                                                   

Fukien                     Fujian                                                    

Yünnan                     Yunnan                                                    

Kwangsi                    Guangxi                                                   

Kwangtung                  Guangdong                  center of modern economic      


PLACES - other                                                                       

Yellow River               Huang Ho                                                  

Yang-tse River             Yangzi                                                    

Formosa [Portugues         Taiwan                     cuurent location of Rep. of    
"beautiful"]                                          China                          

Manchukuo                  Manzhougou                 Japanese client state in       



The Five Classics          Wu Jing                    "jing" means "classic"         

I Ching                    Yi Jing                    Book of Changes                

Shu Ching                  Shu Jing                   Book of History of Documents   

Shi Ching                  Shi Jing                   Book of Odes                   

Li Ching                   Li Jing                    Book of Ritual                 

-Li shi                    -Li Ji                     -best known part of Book of    

Ch'un ch'iu                Chunqui                    Spring and Autumn Annals       


The Four Books             Shi Shu                    Confucian classics - all       
                                                      after Confucius                

Lun-yü                     Lun yu                     the "Analects"                 

Meng-tzu                   Mengzi                     sayings of Mencius             

Ta Hsio                    Da Xue                     The Great Learning, pt of      
                                                      Book of Rites                  

Chung Yung                 Jung Yung                  The Doctine of the Mean, pt    
                                                      of Book of Rites               


Tao Te Ching               Dao De Jing                Classic of the Way and Virtue  

Shih Chi                   Shi Ji                     "Historical Records" of Sima   




tien                       tian                       "Heaven"                       

tao                        dao                        the "Way"                      

ch'i                       qi                         "matter of an object"          

                           li                         "form of an object"            

wen                        wen                        writing, civil goverment       

p'u                                                   simplicity                     

                           po                         animal or life soul            

                           hun                        spiritual, or personality      

                           shen                       "gods"                         

wu                         wu                         action                         

wu wei                     wu wei                     non-action                     

yang                       yang                       male                           

yin                        yin                        female                         


Confucian Virtues                                                                    

                           ren                        "humanity" [humanitas]         

                           li                         ritual, courtesy               

                           yi                         uprightness                    

                           zhi                        moral knowledge                

                           xin                        faithfulness, integrity        

                           Zhing                      loyalty, steadfastness         



Ch'an                      Chan                       Chinese "Zen" Buddhism         

Please send any comments or corrections to Paul Halsall