Believe it or not, one of the main reasons Mandarin Radio exists is to share our metadata. That is, the Song Title and Artist Name that appears in most players.
When we first started back in 2002, almost all Chinese music radio and Chinese music websites used only Hanzi (Chinese characters). Go figure!
Mandarin Radio is primarily intended for those who do not read Chinese. As a music discovery platform, we are dedicated to helping our listeners know what they are hearing.
All NEW songs will be tagged in the following manner: *
Song Title: English Title (Pinyin Title)
Artist Name: English Name (Pinyin Name)
* Some older songs do not follow this convention (we will work on that at some point)
Note that often the English title is VERY different from actual Mandarin title. Where conflict exists, we have used the English title from reputable sources like iTunes and/or videos posted by the record companies. Otherwise we use Google Translate to get the English title. If that translation is weird, we try to convey the meaning as best we can.
Ideally all of our pinyin would have tonal indicators. As of January 2016 some are just plain text.
English Artist Name: It is perplexing that so many artists use English names, yet almost no Mandarin speakers seem aware of them. For example Karen Mok. Her name is all over her CD covers (see above) and posters for her shows. Yet ask a Mandarin speaker if they like Karen Mok and they will stare back blankly. Then ask them if they know Mo Wen Wei, and suddenly you’re speaking their language! What’s odd is that there does not seem to be a huge push to market Chinese singers to Western audiences so the purpose of hanging their branding on an English name that their fans don’t acknowledge is . . . odd.
When there is no English name indicated or if it seems like it is nearly unused, we simply go with the Pinyin.
In an ideal world, all our songs would have the following information:
Song Title: English title, Chinese title (in Pinyin), Chinese title (in Hanzi)
Artist Name: English name, Chinese name (in Pinyin), Chinese name (in Hanzi)
That might look something like this:
Song Title: Cloudy Day (Yīn tiān) 陰天
Artist Name: Karen Mok (Mòwénwèi) 莫文蔚
Unfortunately some song titles and artist names would get too long too display.
Also, we’d have to decide on which form of Hanzi to use. There is the traditional form (currently used in Taiwan and Hong Kong) and the simplified form (Used in China, Singapore and Malaysia)
What the heck is Pinyin?
Pinyin is the accepted method of transliteration of Chinese to English (or Roman) characters. It replaced an earlier (and less accurate) convention called Wade-Giles.
Here’s an interesting fact about these two systems that has caused some confusion among non-Chinese. But probably MORE confusion for Chinese who travel abroad.
北京 is what we now know as Beijing. This is a Pinyin transliteration (the proper pinyin is Běijīng).
Though for years the English name of this city was Peking – YES it is the SAME place!
The old system of transliteration produced “Peking” from 北京.
Our Taiwanese friends tell us that there is an even more accurate phonetic system commonly called Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) (but formally Zhuyin). This system uses an entirely new set of characters to accurately represent all the sounds used in Mandarin (only 37 of them!) Plus 4 tones. It is used in Taiwan to teach children to read before they recognize enough characters. This seems pretty similar to Hiragana and Katakana for Japanese. Though Hiragana and Katakana are an integral part of all written Japanese. Bopomofo is not used in standard written Mandarin though apparently it is used to sort words in Mandarin dictionaries and for computer input. Below is a bopomofo keyboard from DSI Keyboards