July 14, 2022

S2-E20 - Mr. and Mrs. Giles

S2-E20 - Mr. and Mrs. Giles

Why is "Kaohsiung" spelled so strangely? Shouldn't it be closer to "Gao-Shung"? (Or we could just use Hanyu Pinyin, "Gāoxióng"). Well, many names in Taiwan are spelled with the Latin alphabet, using a romanization system popularized by Mr. Herbert Giles, a British consul who spent 25 years in the treaty ports of China and Taiwan. The -- for some -- infamous Wade-Giles system renders "Pingdong" as "P’ing-tung," and "Taidong" as "T’ai-tung." It’s big on hyphens and apostrophes, too – T’ai-pei, T’ai-wan, Nan-t’ou – but this punctuation is seldom used correctly.
Mr. Giles played an important role as an early Sinologist and Chinese translator, while the second Mrs. Giles chronicled treaty port life in a series called China Coast Tales, which included two stories set in Danshui, where the couple lived in the 1880s. Mr. and Mrs. Giles were not only prolific writers, but both also had some strong opinions and were not shy in expressing them, which makes for a fun episode.


Cover image via Quora - Robert Matthews (馬學進)

Below: Herbert Allen Giles  (December 8, 1845 – February 13, 1935)

Via Wikimedia Commons

We could not find any images of Elise Giles

Below: Sir Thomas Francis Wade (August 25, 1818 – July 31, 1895)

Via Wikimedia Commons

Below: An example of the even stranger Tongyong Pinyin system used in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

(Photo by Eryk Michael Smith) 

BOOK LINKS: 

A Chinese-English Dictionary Hardcover – January 1, 1892

China Coast Tales (Classic Reprint) by Elise Williamina Edersheim Giles