Chinese/Cantonese Track Info In English: Case of Track Info Internationalization


Chinese/Cantonese Track Info In English: Case of Track Info Internationalization

Casual Listener



I am a Chinese in the US, and I have noticed a lot of the Chinese tracks have English info. They are not necessarily "wrong" as they are correct Pinyin (a type of romantization recognized by PRC gov) of the corresponding Chinese titles except for some complicated cases which I will describe later. They are probably provided by the label companies as well, as I observe they are consistent with the ones in iTunes.


For me such titles are minor annoyances. They are not translations so English speakers cannot understand them, but I as native speaker cannot make sense easily from them either. I have to guess what the title is based on my vocabulary. Even such effort easily fails when a pun is intended by the artist, as shown by this track:  謝安琪 – Zi Li Xing Jian . This is a case where the title 字里行奸 is a synonym of an Chinese idiom, 字里行間, with a different last character altering the meaning. According to the idiom, the third character, "Xing" here, actually should be "Hang", but this pronunciation is altered to "Xing" along with the last character to represent a noun to verb transition under the hood.


Another complexity, also shown by the aforementioned track, is the dialects of Chinese. Sharing a common writing system, different speaking systems inside Chinese are so different that they cannot communicate with each other. The track linked is a Cantonese song. Cantonese pronunces differently, and has a different romanization system than Pinyin. In Cantonese that third character is "Hang" anyway.


To avoid such complexity in the speaking system, using title in its original writing system is the easiest way, as I have noticed in recent tracks. But how to deal with those legacy tracks remains unclear.


Above is my opinion on the internationalization of track info as a Cantopop lover. I expect this to be a minor problem requiring some non-trivial effort to solve. If this is reportable as track problem, I can help reporting and offering correct information.


P.S. To make things even more complicated we have Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Sticking with Traditional Chinese as recent tracks is my advice.