Mandarin Monday: Chuan, Chuanr, Chuan’r, Chuan’er? How to Correctly Transliterate Beijing’s Favorite Street Snack
A few weeks back, I received a terse message from an old friend, former long-time Beijing resident and literary translation stalwart Brendan O’Kane. Currently in Philadelphia serving time as a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, Brendan took umbrage with my transliteration in a recent blogpost of the Beijing meat-based delicacy as “chuan’r.” One ‘r’. One apostrophe.
“Seriously, what the f*%k is with people writing “chuan’r” when the 兒 is nonsyllabic? There are RULES, you know! People at The Beijinger having been doing this for years – is it some kind of contagious brain parasite?”
In the interest of getting this right, we asked several experts from the field of Chinese language and linguistics – including Brendan – to help us settle the debate.
Originally published by The Beijinger on February 27, 2017