[Task Request] Heteronym problem

By Peng Zhao | April 12, 2018

Heteronym is a common lingual phenomenon in the most languages. Wikepedia:

A heteronym (also known as a heterophone) is a word that has a different pronunciation and meaning as another word but the same spelling.

For the Chinese language, the definition should be 'the same character' instead of 'the same spelling', as Chinese is not a spelling language. There are around 4000 frequently used Chinese characters, more than 1000 of which are heteronyms. The choice of the correct pronunciation of a character depends on the context.

Currently the R pinyin package cannot handle heteronyms correctly. The Chinese language library which pinyin is using does not consider the context.

This is why a bug was reported by @nydaily as follows:

> pinyin::pinyin('我是一只小小鸟')
[1] "wǒ_shì_yī_zhī_xiǎo_xiǎo_diǎo"
> pinyin::pinyin('音乐')
[1] "yīn_lè"
> pinyin::pinyin('月亮')
[1] "rù_liánɡ"

The correct pronunciations of these characters should be:

  • '我是一只小小鸟' : "wǒ shì yī zhī xiǎo xiǎo niǎo"
  • '音乐': "yīn yuè"
  • '月亮': “yuè liang”

pinyin was intended to avoid problems in non-Asian computers which might not support Chinese display. Technically I knew this bug and I thought that heteronym would not be a problem. Now it seems that there is a demand for pinyin to improve this feature. Thanks to @nydaily for the bug report, which makes much sense. I am sorry that this report could not be approved by utopian.io because there was no license file in the repo. Now I have added a license file.

The task is to return the correct pinyin for hereronyms when converting Chinese characters into pinyin.


Once the task will be completed, the returned results of the following functions will be changed:

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