gpinyin - Man Page

use Hanyu Pinyin Chinese in roff


gpinyin[input-file ]


gpinyin is a preprocessor for groff(1) that facilitates use of the Hanyu Pinyin groff(7) files. Pinyin is a method for writing the Chinese language with the Latin alphabet. The Chinese language consists of more than four hundred syllables, each with one of five different tones. In Pinyin, a syllable is written in the Latin alphabet and a numeric tone indicator can be appended to each syllable.

Each input-file is a file name or the hyphen-minus character “-” to indicate that standard input should be read. As usual, the argument “--” can be used in order to force interpretation of all remaining arguments as file names, even if an input-file argument begins with the hyphen-minus character.

Pinyin Sections

Pinyin sections in groff files are enclosed by two .pinyin requests with different arguments. The starting request is

.pinyin start


.pinyin begin

and the ending request is

.pinyin stop


.pinyin end



The spoken Chinese language is based on about 411 syllables; see

In Pinyin, each syllable consists of one to six letters from the Latin alphabet; these letters comprise the fifty-two upper- and lowercase letters from the ASCII character set, plus the letter “U” with dieresis (umlaut) in both cases—in other words, the members of the set “[a–zA–ZüÜ]”.

In groff input, all ASCII letters are written as themselves. The “u with dieresis” can be written as “\[:u]” in lowercase or “\[:U]” in uppercase. Within .pinyin sections, gpinyin supports the form “ue” for lowercase and the forms “Ue” and “UE” for uppercase.


Each syllable has exactly one of five tones. The fifth tone is not explicitly written at all, but each of the first through fourth tones is indicated with a diacritic above a specific vowel within the syllable.

In a gpinyin source file, these tones are written by adding a numeral in the range 0 to 5 after the syllable. The tone numbers 1 to 4 are transformed into accents above vowels in the output. The tone numbers 0 and 5 are synonymous.

The following table summarizes the tones. Some output devices will not be able to render every output example.

ToneDescriptionDiacriticExample InputExample Output

The neutral tone number can be omitted from a word-final syllable, but not otherwise.



Print usage information and exit.


Print version information and exit.


gpinyin was written by Bernd Warken.

See Also

Useful documents on the World Wide Web related to Pinyin include

groff(1), grog(1), and groffer(1) explain how to view roff documents.

groff(7) and groff_char(7) are comprehensive references covering the language elements of GNU roff and the available glyph repertoire, respectively.


19 January 2023 groff 1.22.4