Chinese Notes

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These are some notes about open issues and tips to editors/voters concerning the Chinese artists and releases in MusicBrainz. See also:

Please contribute and comment at will!

Romanization systems

Wikipedia covers romanization of Chinese in great depth, but a quick summary is in order.

Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音/汉语拼音) is the romanization system used in mainland China and is also an ISO standard for romanization of Mandarin Chinese. Students of Chinese will typically learn this system which probably why virtually all transliterated releases in MusicBrainz use it.

Mandarin Chinese is also the official language on Taiwan and since 2009 Hanyu Pinyin is the official romanization system. For political and historical reasons a mixture of systems are used, including Wades-Giles, MPS2, Tongyong and Hanyu Pinyin. However, person names are usually based on Wade-Giles spellings, which is what you will see in the sort names of Taiwanese artists. More details on Wikipedia.

Cantonese-speaking artists (Hong Kong, Macao, Guangdong) will typically not use any of the systems mentioned above, but rather a romanization based on Cantonese pronounciation.

Wikipedia's list of common Chinese surnames provides a very good overview of common family names and their romanization using different systems.

Futhermore, there are different standards for spacing and capitalization of romanized names. In mainland China the given name is typically written without spacing. In Taiwan and Hong Kong however, two-syllable given names are usually written with a hyphen between each syllable, sometimes also capitalizing the second.

It is also common for artists to choose their own "English" name or a non-standard romanization, so some should be taken before changing the sort names of Chinese artists with which you are not familiar.

Traditional and simplified Chinese

The current text search does no conversion between traditional and simplified Chinese, which has caused many duplicate artists to be entered (can be fixed with ArtistAlias) and lookup of releases with Picard to fail if they are in the wrong script. No bugs have been filed for this issue, which would be a first step.

Style issues

Punctuation and spacing

Classic Chinese uses neither punctuation nor spacing, but modern Chinese has adopted the common punctuation from Latin scripts. However, they are usually used in their full-width forms.

Half-width , . ? ! : ; ( )

Which form is used is currently very inconsistent in the database and depends on the preference of the editor.

There is also some inconsistency in how extra title information is formatted:

  1. 標題(某某版) [full-width brackets]
  2. 標題(某某版) [half-width brackets]
  3. 標題 (某某版) [half-width brackets with leading space]

Extra Title Information Style only states that such must information "must be entered in parentheses after the Main Title", which is true of all three above formats.

The use of the middle dot and other symbols with similar appearance is quite inconsistent and confused. The below tables shows the type of punctuation used and some of the releases/tracks where they appear.

Middle dot


When a middle dot appears as a pause or word separator in titles, usually the following Unicode character is to used:

  • In simplified Chinese, use "·" (U+00B7 MIDDLE DOT)
  • In traditional Chinese, use "‧" (U+2027 HYPHENATION POINT)

This might not be correct though. Current use:

Symbol: · Big5: Yes GB2312: No Unicode: U+00B7 MIDDLE DOT

Hypenation point

Symbol: ‧ Big5: ? GB2312: ? Unicode: U+2027 HYPHENATION POINT

Ideographic comma

Symbol: 、 Big5: Yes GB2312: Yes Unicode: U+3001 IDEOGRAPHIC COMMA

Ideographic full stop

Symbol: 。 Big5: Yes GB2312: Yes Unicode: U+3002 IDEOGRAPHIC FULL STOP

Katakana middle dot

Symbol: ・ Big5: No GB2312: Yes Unicode: U+30FB KATAKANA MIDDLE DOT

Fullwidth full stop

Symbol: . Big5: Yes GB2312: Yes Unicode: U+FF0E FULLWIDTH FULL STOP

Artist collaborations

Featuring Artist Style requires the use of "藝人甲 (feat. 藝人乙)" for the typical featured artist case. This format is not completely alien to Chinese and does appear on some covers, but there are still some entries in the database using the "藝人甲 (藝人乙合唱)" format. I've been slightly hesitant to change them since the AR:s already show the relationship with great clarity and because "合唱" means "sing together" and thus implies vocal performance. This is a fairly minor issue, but should be put right in the future.

Featuring Artist Style does not clearly state how collaborations between 3 or more artists should be formatted. The de facto standard "Artist A, Artist B & Artist C" is seldom used for Chinese artists, for various reasons. This issue has been discussed on the style mailing list.

The collaboration artists in question:

Traditional Chinese Music

It's not obvious how Classical Style Guide should be applied to traditional Chinese music. The use of English and Latin script in an otherwise Chinese context is sub-optimal. These are some releases with traditional Chinese music which may have style issues:

Mixed Language Titles

When foreign languages/scripts appear in release or track titles they should be capitalized according to the Capitalization Standard of that language.