August 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm #41058
Chee-koong or chee-gong? Most places I read say chee-gong, but Michael seems to pronounce it chee-koong. Or is it chee-goong? Tricky Wade-Giles and pinyin…August 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm #41059
I’ll give you a long drawn-out answer. 🙂
I assume you are asking the question as to how a Chinese person
would say it, right?
If so, then it is “Chee-gung”.
Strictly speaking, Chinese has tones, so additional to the pronunciation
is the tone. The first part “Chee”, should be said short and fast,
with a falling tone. Sort of like when you quickly and sharply say “STOP!”
The second part “gung”, should be said long and stretched out, in an
even level tone . . . this gives it more of a “gong” sound, but the underlying
vowel sound is more of short “u” than an “o” sound.
This is true, regardless of which transliteration system is used.
As you know, the Wade-Giles vs. pinyin transliteration issue is just an
issue as to how to transform spoken Chinese into text using the Latin Alphabet.
Wade-Giles were a pair of Brits who put forward their system in the 1890’s.
Of course, China didn’t like this, because not only were some sounds misrepresented by the associated letters, but more importantly, they didn’t create it. It’s an issue of pride. In the 1950’s, China created the new pinyin system. They made it official in 1980s. Modern Daoist scholars almost always use pinyin now exclusively. Personally, I try to do the same, excepting in the case of “Tao” and “Tai Chi”, since these kind of have become too integrated into our culture.
In the same way, due to Wade-Giles transliteration creating the false impression of how things are pronounced, due to the long number of years of its implementation, and due to the typical American tendency to mispronounce foreign words . . . many different variants “chee-kung”, “chee-koong”, “chee-gOng”, etc. have become popular and likewise these pronunciations . . . part of our culture. Since they have become part of our culture, they have really almost become American words with American pronunciation . . . with pronunciations and accents varying from person to person (not unlike North vs. South accents). So who is to say what is “correct” from an American perspective.
But if you want to say it like a Chinese person, it would be “chee-gung”,
or more appropriately “chee4-gung1”, where 4 and 1 refer to the Chinese tones
I described above.
For me, I tend to be a typical American and am lazy with the tones, but
otherwise say “chee-gung”. Unless, of course, I’m talking to someone who speaks Chinese, then I am extra careful with my tones. 😉
StevenAugust 9, 2013 at 8:36 am #41061
Thanks Steven, just like the true scholar that you are! Sort of what I figured, as I tend to go either gong or gung, or sort of a blend of the two…August 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm #41063August 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm #41065
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