Monday, October 6, 2008

Ngai (surname)

Ngai is the transliteration of three in Hong Kong based on :

*, also common in northern China as Wei
*, pinyin: wēi
*, pinyin: ní

All three characters are written the same way in both and writing systems.

The native IPA pronunciation of these three characters is . This causes especial difficulty to speakers of English for two reasons:
*The engma as an initial consonant is unknown in English.
*In English, the so-called "long i," which the sound ''ai'' usually represents in transliteration, represents a complementary distribution of IPA a? and ? ; or represents the first diphthong exclusively, depending on region. In both cases, English phonotactics call for the first diphthong in this case. However, in Cantonese the two diphthongs are distinct , and the second diphthong is the appropriate one.

Therefore, individuals with these last names, when speaking English, may for convenience pronounce the last name as or .

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