alt.obituaries Memorial Deadpool
was one of the few supercentenarians who were famous for reasons other than
their longevity. His main invention, the Pinyin system, a romanization of the
Chinese language, earned him eternal honor. With his work, Encyclopedia Zhou—his
nickname since the 1980s—helped to fight illiteracy in China, which fell from
over 80% to less than 10% since Pinyin was officially adopted.
was born as Zhou Yaoping on January 13. 1906, in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province,
to a Qing Dynasty official. He discovered his interest in linguistics at
Changzhou High School, and, thanks to fundraising by friends, he was able to
study economics and linguistics at St. John’s University in Shanghai, but he
left the university following the May Thirtieth Movement in 1925, and graduated
from Guanghua University in 1927.
1933, Zhou married Zhang Yunhe and the couple moved to Japan. Their two children
were born there, and Zhou studied in Tokyo and Kyoto. In 1937, the family
returned to China, where Zhou worked for Sin Hua Bank in Chongqing as well as for
the National Government's Ministry of Economic Affairs, which appointed him
director of the Chinese agricultural policy bureau. After Japan’s defeat in
World War II, Zhou remained at Sin Hua Bank, leading offices in London and New
York. In 1949 he returned to Shanghai, where he taught economics at Fudan
University for several years.
1955, Zhou was instructed to lead a committee to reform the Chinese language. Over
three years, Zhou and his colleagues translated Chinese characters into roman
characters representing the pronunciation of the words. Created as a
pronunciation guide, the new system was officially adopted in 1958.
the Cultural Revolution—during which he was sent to live in a labor camp for
two years as “re-education”—Zhou remained an important pillar of the Chinese
cultural system. In 1976, he promoted the Hanyu Pinyin System as the
international standard for the spelling of Chinese at the meeting of the
International Organization for Standardization in Warsaw. In 1980, he began to
work on a Chinese translation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, accompanied by
two other linguists. He also wrote ten books since 2000, some of which have
been banned in China. Zhou had always been a critic of Chinese politics but was
too famous to be banned from the country.
Youguang reached supercentenarian status in 2016, when he celebrated his 110th birthday.
He died on January 14, 2017, at his home in Beijing, just one day after his
111th birthday, leaving six points to team WEP (1 for the hit, 5 for the solo).
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