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台北 (or 臺北) is the name of Taiwanese city, Taibei, read [tʰaɪ̯³⁵ peɪ̯²¹⁴⁻²¹⁽⁴⁾] in Mandarin. In Japanese, it is normally rendered with the sequence タイペイ. But what is the reading of this sequence? ペイ is obviously none of the systematic 音読み of the character, but does the norm that -エイ ending is pronounced [e:] instead of [ej] still apply? Or does the pronunciation follow the Chinese version, where the diphthong actually exists? In short, タイペ-イ or タイペー?

(If the correct answer is “people actually say たいほく,” that also is accepted. But still, how does one pronounce 台北 if タイペイ?)

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    Can you clarify if your question is "How to pronounce タイペイ" or if it is "Is 台北 read タイペイ or タイペー"? – jarmanso7 Oct 19 at 10:10
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If spelled タイペイ, people usually read literally //taipei// instead of a long vowel today.

Basically, エイ for //eː// is an orthographical rule limited to traditional Sino-Japanese words, or those has readings systematically deriving from historical Chinese pronunciations. While タイペイ is certainly a Chinese word, it is merely an occasional transcription of a modern Mandarin word form, in that respect nothing different than recent loan words from European languages, and people just read it out straightforwardly. Edge cases do exist such as ケツメイシ, a music group named after Chinese herbal name 決明子 "sicklepod seed", which is clearly a Sino-Japanese word, is almost always pronounced //ketsɯmeiɕi//, because it sounds like but another neologism to the majority who don't know such a word.

Whether you reproduce a syllable whose original sound is like [[ej]] using a long vowel or not is completely arbitrary. For example, a PC brand acer registers themselves as エイサー, so we read as it is spelled; a cellphone brand au as エーユー, and we follow it likewise. It makes an interesting mismatch that au Pay, the digital wallet service it provides, is pronounced エーユー・ペイ.

How to read kanji word 台北 itself is up to you; either the standard on'yomi たいほく, タイペイ, or タイペー would work, like we cannot decide the sole correct pronunciation of Appalachia.


What stated above is not applied to the spelling オウ, for which most people would go with //oː// in any context (except in native 大和言葉).

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I don't know the norm ; "-エイ ending is pronounced [e:]" though, 北 is pronounced as 「ペイ」 or 「ペー」 while playing mahjong game among Japanese people borrowing Chinese pronunciation for calling the wind tiles. At least to me, pronouncing either pronunciation;「タイペイ」or「タイペー」is fine.

According to one of the most popular guidebook for Japanese travelers : 地球{ちきゅう}の歩{ある}き方{かた}, they adopt 「タイペイ」: 台北.

NHK use「タイホク」on their TV program : 2度目の台湾 タイホク編.

According to コトバンク:「精選版 日本国語大辞典の解説」, the dictionary has hyperlinked both 「タイペイ」 and 「タイペー」to 「たいほく【台北】」.

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