Daoism-Taoism romanization issue

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In English, the words Daoism and Taoism are the subject of an ongoing controversy over the preferred romanization for naming this native Chinese philosophy and Chinese religion. The root Chinese word "way, path" is romanized tao in the older Wade–Giles system and dào in the modern Pinyin system. The sometimes heated arguments over Taoism vs. Daoism involve sinology, phonemes, loanwords, and politics—not to mention whether Taoism should be pronounced /ˈtaʊ.ɪzəm/ or /ˈdaʊ.ɪzəm/.

First, some linguistic terminology and notations need to be introduced. Phonetic transcription (representing each distinct speech sound with a separate symbol) is shown with the International Phonetic Alphabet enclosed in square brackets [ ], and phonemic transcription (representing a small set of speech sounds that a particular language distinguishes) is enclosed within virgules or forward slashes / /. In articulatory phonetics, "aspiration" is an articulation that involves an audible release of breath. For example, the /t/ in tore [tʰɔər] is "aspirated", with a noticeable puff of breath, but the /t/ in store [stɔər] is "unaspirated". The diacritic for aspiration is a superscript "h", [ʰ] (e.g., tʰ pʰ). While the original IPA did not explicitly mark unaspirated consonants, the revised Extensions to the IPA marks them with a superscript equals sign "=", [⁼] (e.g., t⁼, p⁼). "Voice" or "voicing" distinguishes whether a particular sound is either "voiced" (when the vocal cords vibrate) or "unvoiced" (when they do not). Examples include voiceless [t, s] and voiced [d, z].


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