Is it Taoism or Daoism?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by nervefilter, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. nervefilter Registered Member

    I've gotten a couple of books and looked around on the web and it has the 2 spellings. Which one is right? If neither of them are, why are they spelled different?

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  3. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    you better get ready.....

    Fraggle rocker is about to post.
    I love this guy.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Dao is correct. Tao is an obsolete transliteration.

    The oldest system for transcribing Chinese into the Roman alphabet is the Wade-Giles. That's where we got things like Mao Tse-Tung, Sze-Chuan, and Chou En-Lai. Even though it was named after and presumably invented by two Englishmen, it was modeled on French phonetics. For example, Tian An Men, "Heaven Peace Gate", actually had an apostrophe after the T: T'ian An Men. That made it an aspirated T, like in English "take". Without the apostrophe, T is pronounced more like an English D. Although to be precise, it is like a French T, which is why I say it follows French Phonetics.

    So "Tao", which does not have an apostrophe, in the Wade-Giles system was pronounced as "Dao." If it had an apostrophe, "T'ao", then it would be pronounced as in English "Tao".

    If that sounds confusing, it is. It was horrible. Sometime after the Communist revolution the Chinese themselves adopted the Pin-Yin transcription system. Suddenly everything made more sense. The Premier's name is now Mao Ze-Dong, which is kind of how it was pronounced. The province is Si-Chuan. The other Premier was Zhou En-Lai. Tian An Men doesn't need the apostrophe. Dian, which means "a little bit" is spelled with a D because it sounds like a D.

    Thus the word Dao is now spelled Dao, which is pretty similar to the way it is pronounced.

    But it's the same word. Old books call it Tao, new books call it Dao. Some Chinese words are so well established that scholars continue to write them in the old transliteration system, which in my opinion merely confuses everybody. For example, Lao Tzu, "Dear Elder," should be written Lao Zi now. Sun Tzu, the famous general, is now Sun Zi. The dog breed Shih Tzu should be Shi Zi, which would be really nice because people would stop pronouncing it like it contained the sound "shit", which it doesn't.

    Some of those old transcriptions will never die because they are so common. But the Dao is a very humble word. It simply means Way. "Wo zhi dao" -- "I know (the way)". "Wo dao cheng qu" -- "I travel (on the way) to the city".

    Humble words should not be elevated to the status of revered ancient traditions. The Chinese people who practice "the way" would be the first to insist that we adopt the modern transliteration system to make it easier to pronounce. It is, after all, pronounced DAO, not TAO.

    That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about Chinese Romanization. But now you know that it is considered proper to spell it with a D and it should always be pronounced with a D no matter how you spell it.

    When I studied Chinese we learned the Yale transliteration system, yet a third alternative. We spelled it "Dau", which was kind of nice because it gave more of a clue to the pronunciation. The Premiere was Mau Dze-Dung, which again is pretty close to how it is pronounced. The province is Sz-Chwan, and there really is no vowel in Sz. The dog is Shr-Dz, and there really is no vowel in either syllable. I wish the Yale system had caught on. News reporters would not butcher Chinese names quite so badly.
    Search & Destroy likes this.
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  7. nervefilter Registered Member

    Ahh okay. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

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  8. LaoTzu Registered Senior Member

  9. George2ya Registered Member

    I'm over a decade late

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