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Elizabeth Reninger

The Way Of Dao & Tao

By November 26, 2011

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Q: If a xianren and a hsien-jen happened to cross paths - on a starry, moon-lit night - would they recognize each other?


As English-speaking readers of Taoist texts and scriptures soon figure out, there are two different transliteration systems currently in use, to Romanize Chinese characters: the older Wade-Giles and the newer pinyin systems. The editorial decision in relation to this website has been to use pinyin, with the exception of "Tao" and "Taoism" - which stand, as such, in their older Wade-Giles version.

It can get a bit tricky, however, if for instance I cite a passage from an article that uses Wade-Giles transliterations, and then wish to comment on it. For the sake of clarity, I oftentimes will then use Wade-Giles also, simply to match the spellings presented in the text I'm referring to.

In an effort to add a modicum of clarity to the situation, I've created a glossary of common Taoist terms, with side-by-side Pinyin and Wade-Giles transliterations, as well as brief English definitions, with abundant links to more extensive explorations of many of the terms.

As a rule of thumb, it's good to try for consistency, unless of course you're a certified xianren or hsien-jen, in which case your actions will be spontaneously perfect in a way that transcends conceptual consistency/inconsistency, completely :)

November 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(1) baroness radon says:

Very useful, the glossary.

I recently was in a discussion with someone who seems to feel that Dao and Tao are, in the west anyway, percieved or understood as two different things. This seemed bizarre to me. But one character fits all!

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