Pinyin (pĭnˈyĭnˈ) [key] [Chin. pinyin zimu = phonetic alphabet], system of romanization of Chinese written characters, approved in 1958 by the government of the People's Republic of China and officially adopted by it in 1979. Its use replaces that of the more complex Wade-Giles system (1859; modified 1912), among others. The reasons for adopting Pinyin included promoting a national language, establishing a means for writing non-Chinese (minority) languages in China, and encouraging foreigners to learn Chinese. Pinyin is not used officially in Taiwan.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.