Skip to Main Content

EALC 398: Senior Seminar (BMC/HC) Fall 2023

East Asian Languages and Cultures 398: Senior Seminar (Kwa, Schoneveld) Fall 2023

Transliteration information

The following information will be very useful for you as you continue exploring detailed research materials. Because of 21st century technology, searching for information in a variety of languages is now possible. With translation software becoming mainstream, it is now very easy to successfully search for materials in East Asian languages. Below you will find notes on transliterating East Asian languages into Roman letters (Romanization). One could always copy-paste East Asian language keywords into search fields, but often this is not how library systems are oriented. Thus, it is useful to know how various countries and scholars use Romanization methods. 


Chinese is written in characters (not symbols, nor drawings), and as such, Romanization into Latin letters can cause confusion. There are two major Romanization methods: pinyin (used by everyone in China) and Wade-Giles (used by many scholars and used in Taiwan).  Here is an example: 

If you want to search for information about the last emperor to rule China and his dynasty, you would search for "Qing dynasty" in pinyin and/or "Ch'ing dynasty" in Wade-Giles. Both bring up differing results in whatever search engine you might be using (including Tripod). 

See pinyin-WadeGiles conversion chart here:


Japanese is transliterated in a very systematic manner (the Hepburn system also called ローマ字 romaji). Because the Japanese language uses kanji (which are derived from Chinese characters), Hiragana, and Katakana, searching for Japanese language materials can be confusing. Luckily, there are good resources online for transliteration. If you want to find articles on Japan's current Emperor, it is easy to search for his name: "Akihito."

Let's say you want to find out how to write a proper name or word in Japanese. You can use a website such as Japanese Transliteration to find out how something is written in Romanji, Katakana, and Hiragana. The latter two use a syllabary writing system (where symbols represent sounds), but it should be noted that Japanese names are written in Kanji. When in doubt, use romanji to search in Tripod.