Scholars Celebrate Zhou Youguang’s 110th Birthday


On Jan. 13, Zhou Youguang, a prestigious linguist and economist in China, turned 110. On Jan. 10, renowned scholars and Zhou’s families held a symposium to celebrate his birthday at Capital Library in Beijing.

Zhou is often credited as the “father of Pinyin,” a system for Romanizing Chinese words using the Western alphabet. Zhou was tasked with creating a pronunciation guide for the Chinese language in the 1950s to help increase literacy. His system saw literacy rates jump from around 20 percent in the 1950s to over 90 percent today, as schools all across China use Pinyin to aid Chinese instruction.

The Pinyin system, which took three years for Zhou and his colleagues to devise, was so useful that even international learners adopted it, and now mobile phones and computers regularly use it for Chinese text input.  

Born Zhou Yaoping, and later adopting the pen-name Youguang, he was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. In 1923, Zhou began to study in China’s first Western-style university, St. John’s in Shanghai, the predecessor of East China Normal University, where he studied economics and linguistics. Later, he transferred to Guanghua University, from which he graduated in 1927. Zhou spent time as an exchange student in Japan, and spent his early career working as a banker on Wall Street, and returned to Shanghai in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was established.


 Scholars and Zhou’s families held a symposium to celebrate the centenarian Scholar's  birthday.


News Source:  




East China Normal University