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I am working on an art project that I would like to collect the hundreds of different transliterations of 「中文」 zhōng wén in Mandarin Chinese. (Pronunciation available here: https://translate.google.com/#zh-CN/de/中文)

How can I transliterate zhōng wén in Portuguese? (For example, "zhong wen" would be the closest pronunciation in English.)

  • maybe "chong uene" or "xong uen"... – Jorge B. Mar 30 '17 at 16:11
  • Hearing Google Translator pronunciation, it sounds like "xong uóóó". – gmauch Mar 31 '17 at 1:16
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For European Portuguese, the best transliteration that I can find is:

xhoun'uén

Explanation:

  • We don't have the "xh" sound, but neither does English have "zh".
    I think it would be understood.
    We could also use "ch" instead of "x" here - it has this same sound.
    But with "ch" I can't find a way to mark the light separation between the consonants and the vowels - the h in "zhōng".

  • The "ou" could mean a longer o sound ("choupo"), but also a sound like the name of the vowel "o" in English: /ou/ .

  • The apostrophe is used in Portuguese to mark elision of letters, mostly in informal speech.

  • The "é" is an /ɛ/, an open e. (see http://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/ )

  • I am interested in seeing alternative answers, at least one with a Brasilian Portuguese transliteration. :) I expect it to be different. – ANeves Mar 31 '17 at 12:15
  • OK, I provided one. :) – stafusa Jan 12 '18 at 13:17
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The question is old, but since a pt-BR is still missing, I can offer my opinion:

tchôun'uén

Where my changes with respect to ANeves' answer (xhoun'uén) are only two: 1) xh to tch, like in the Portuguese "tchau" or English "chore", and 2) o to ô in order to make both emphasis and closeness explicit. I'm not sure the e is really that open to warrant the acute accent, but it's probably good to have it there to counteract a bit the nasalization of the final n.

  • I like the extra circumflex accent on the o. It's not needed in pt-PT (with our accent we'd never open the "ou"), but I understand how it is necessary for pt-BR. :) – ANeves Jan 12 '18 at 18:06
  • @ANeves It would unusual in pt-BR too, though more likely if someone is trying to fake a Chinese accent ;-) but it's mostly for stress. – stafusa Jan 12 '18 at 19:03

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