China 2019 – Day 17.5, Saturday, 3rd August

There is sometimes a little bit of confusion as to what the difference between tai chi, tai chi chuan, taiji, and taijiquan is.

They are all the Romanisation of the Hanzi script – just a different standard.

The Wade-Giles system was developed in the mid 19th century by Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles.

In this system we refer to 太极 as Tai Chi / 太极拳 becomes Tai Chi Chuan.

Wade-Giles has been largely superseded by the Pinyin standard.

Pinyin was developed in the mid 20th century and is the standard for teaching Chinese, and is widely used across China and Taiwan and approved by the Chinese government.

You will see 太极 written as Taiji and 太极拳 as Taijiquan.

You may also see Tàijíquán – this shows the tones used in Pinyin, of which there are four. Chinese, being a tonal language, has different tones which depending on how you pronounce a word, can completely change its meaning.

A couple of interesting points to note are that even though Pinyin is far more widely used than Wade-Giles, Tai Chi is still by far the most widely used transliteration.

Also, Beijing is Pinyin and Peking is Wade-Giles, yet it’s the same place of course.

So if you ever wondered why you were eating Peking Duck, or flying to PEK airport…now you know!

There is also a difference between Tai Chi/Taiji and Tai Chi Chuan/Taijiquan but for that you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s blog post!

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