Creator of Pinyin Zhou Youguang Dies at 111

By Bridget O'Donnell, January 16, 2017

6 0

Zhou Youguang, the Chinese linguist "father of Pinyin," passed away this weekend at the age of 111.

Together with the Communist party, Zhou spent three years creating the Pinyin system starting in 1955. Pinyin took characters for Mandarin Chinese and turned them into words using letters from the Roman alphabet. 

The system revolutionized language instruction in China and was key in raising rates literacy across the country, from only about 20 percent in the mid-20th century to more than 90 percent today. 

Zhou was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. After graduating from Shanghai's Guanghua University (now known as East China Normal University) in 1927, he spent a few stints overseas as a banker, including a brief time on Wall Street. He returned to Shanghai in 1949 after the People's Republic of China was formed.

"We spent three years developing Pinyin," Zhou once told the BBC. "People made fun of us, joking that it had taken us a long time to deal with just 26 letters."

Zhou passed away at his home in Beijing on January 14, just a day after his birthday.

more news

2023 Chinese Grand Prix Cancelled

Petrolheads hang their heads...

Former Chinese Leader Jiang Zemin Dies Aged 96

Jiang Zemin served as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993-2003.

Goalies and Ghutras: Chinese Internet Reacts to Qatar World Cup

The tournament has so far produced a number of internet trends in China.

1 More COVID Death in Beijing, New Rules for Entering Shanghai

Beijing continues to face an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.

Daily COVID Cases on Chinese Mainland Hit 6-Month High

Guangzhou has been particularly hard hit in recent days.

My Nanu’s Death Day: Teenage Filmmaker's Debut Short

Tiana Advani is in the 11th grade at Shanghai American School Puxi.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in China With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

Visit the archives