Wade-Giles romanization is crap, mainly because it is not a good guide to how to actually pronounce chinese. Still, it makes sense to learn at least how to decode the stuff, as most old books written on china use it.

here are some of the main differences between wade-giles and pinyin 1) there are differences in the spelling of "initials" for example pinyin zh is the same as w-g ch 2) there are differences in some of the vowels- pinyin e is the same as w-g o, pinyin o is the the same as w-g u 3)tones in w-g are written after the end of the word as a number from one to 4 although in standard english use they are not used at all. 4) names in wade-giles are hyphenated.

What does this all mean? Here are some examples of the difference between pinyin and wade-giles(I am leaving out the tone marks because there is no way to write them on a computer): "China"- pinyin "Zhongguo", wade-giles "chungkuo" (note that if you pronounced the wade-giles version of the word for "China", nobody would know what you were talking about as the word for china ("zhongguo")does not have an english "ch" sound on the front of it.)

"Hebei Province"- Pinyin: hebei Wade-Giles: hopei

Zhang Xueyou(a name) Pinyin: Zhang Xueyou Wade-giles: Chang Hsue-you

Another interesting note is that back before pinyin was widely used, wade-giles was used to teach Chinese (mandarin), meaning that older "foreigners" who learned chinese when they were young often have messed-up pronunciation because they were taught using Wade-giles rather than pinyin.

Taiwan still uses Wade-giles for romanization, however if they are writing romanization for their own purposes then they use a system of letters derived from chinese called "bopomofo"- Pinyin is not normally used because it was devised by the mainland government.

Honestly wade-giles is horrible stuff and the sooner it is gone the better

also a lot of the chinese words that go into english have gone in as wade-giles and it is really painful to hear people going around talking about lao-tzu when the right way to say it is laozi

Here is an list of wade-giles romanization if the initial sounds for Mandarin, Wade-giles first and pinyin equivalents second:

  • p- b
  • p'- p
  • m- m
  • f- f
  • t- d
  • t'- t
  • n- n
  • l- l
  • k- g
  • k'- k
  • h- h
  • ch- j
  • ch'- q
  • hs- x
  • ch- zh
  • ch'- ch
  • s- s
  • chih- zhi
  • ch'ih- chi
  • shih- shi
  • tzu- zi
  • szu/ssu- si
  • erh- er