Bopomofo, also called Zhuyin (Chinese: 注音) or Mandarin Phonetic Symbols, is the major Chinese transliteration system for Taiwanese Mandarin. It is also used to transcribe other varieties of Chinese, particularly other varieties of Standard Chinese and related Mandarin dialects, as well as Taiwanese Hokkien.
|Creator||Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation|
Introduced by the Beiyang government of the ROC
|1918 to 1958 in mainland China;|
1945 to the present in Taiwan
|Taiwanese Phonetic Symbols, Suzhou Phonetic Symbols, Hmu Phonetic Symbols|
|Simplified Chinese, Kanji, Hanja, Chữ Nôm, Khitan script|
|Mandarin Phonetic Symbol|
Zhuyin Fuhao and Zhuyin are traditional terms, whereas Bopomofo is the colloquial term, also used by the ISO and Unicode. Consisting of 37 characters and four tone marks, it transcribes all possible sounds in Mandarin. Zhuyin was introduced in China by the Republican Government in the 1910s and used alongside the Wade–Giles system, which used a modified Latin alphabet. The Wade system was replaced by Hanyu Pinyin in 1958 by the Government of the People's Republic of China, and at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1982. Although Taiwan adopted Hanyu Pinyin as its official romanization system in 2009, Bopomofo is still an official transliteration system there and remains widely used as an educational tool and for electronic input methods.
Similarly to the way that the word "alphabet" is ultimately derived from the names of the first two letters of the alphabet (alpha and beta), the name "Bopomofo" is derived from the first four syllables in the conventional ordering of available syllables in Mandarin Chinese. The four Bopomofo characters (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) that correspond to these syllables are usually placed first in a list of these characters. The same sequence is sometimes used by other speakers of Chinese to refer to other phonetic systems.
The original formal name of the system was 国音字母; 國音字母; Guóyīn Zìmǔ; 'National Language Phonetic Alphabet' and 注音字母; 註音字母; Zhùyīn Zìmǔ; 'Phonetic Alphabet or Annotated Phonetic Letters'. It was later renamed 注音符号; 注音符號; Zhùyīn Fúhào; 'phonetic symbols'.
In official documents, Zhuyin is occasionally called "Mandarin Phonetic Symbols I" (國語注音符號第一式), abbreviated as "MPS I" (注音一式).
The Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation, led by Wu Zhihui from 1912 to 1913, created a system called Zhuyin Zimu, which was based on Zhang Binglin's shorthand. A draft was released on July 11, 1913, by the Republic of China National Ministry of Education, but it was not officially proclaimed until November 23, 1928. It was later renamed first Guoyin Zimu and then, in April 1930, Zhuyin Fuhao. The last renaming addressed fears that the alphabetic system might independently replace Chinese characters.
Modern use in Taiwan
Zhuyin remains the predominant phonetic system in teaching reading and writing in elementary school in Taiwan. It is also one of the most popular ways to enter Chinese characters into computers and smartphones and to look up characters in a dictionary.
In elementary school, particularly in the lower years, Chinese characters in textbooks are often annotated with Zhuyin as ruby characters as an aid to learning. Additionally, one children's newspaper in Taiwan, the Mandarin Daily News, annotates all articles with Zhuyin ruby characters.
In teaching Mandarin, Taiwan institutions and some overseas communities such as Filipino Chinese due to geographical proximity use Zhuyin as a learning tool.
The Zhuyin characters were created by Zhang Binglin, taken mainly from "regularized" forms of ancient Chinese characters, the modern readings of which contain the sound that each letter represents. It is to be noted that the first consonants are articulated from the front of the mouth to the back, /b/, /p/, /m/, /f/, /d/, /t/, /n/, /l/ etc.
|ㄅ||From 勹, the ancient form and current top portion of 包 bāo||p||b||p||八 bā|
|ㄆ||From 攵, the combining form of 攴 pū||pʰ||p||pʻ||杷 pá|
|ㄇ||From 冂, the archaic character and current radical 冖 mì||m||m||m||馬 mǎ|
|ㄈ||From 匚 fāng||f||f||f||法 fǎ|
|ㄉ||From 𠚣, archaic form of 刀 dāo. Compare the Shuowen seal
|ㄊ||From ㄊ tū, upside-down form of 子 zǐ (
|ㄌ||From 𠠲, archaic form of 力 lì||l||l||l||利 lì|
|ㄍ||From the obsolete character 巜 guì/kuài "river"||k||g||k||告 gào|
|ㄎ||From the archaic character 丂 kǎo||kʰ||k||kʻ||考 kǎo|
|ㄏ||From the archaic character and current radical 厂 hǎn||x||h||h||好 hǎo|
|ㄐ||From the archaic character 丩 jiū||tɕ||j||ch||叫 jiào|
|ㄑ||From the archaic character 𡿨 quǎn, graphic root of the character 巛 chuān (modern 川)||tɕʰ||q||chʻ||巧 qiǎo|
|ㄒ||From 丅, an ancient form of 下 xià.||ɕ||x||hs||小 xiǎo|
||ʈʂ||zhi, zh-||ch||知 zhī|
|ㄔ||From the character and radical 彳 chì||ʈʂʰ||chi, ch-||chʻ||吃 chī|
|ㄕ||From 𡰣, an ancient form of 尸 shī||ʂ||shi, sh-||sh||是 shì|
|ㄖ||Modified from the seal script
||ɻ~ʐ||ri, r-||j||日 rì|
|ㄗ||From the archaic character and current radical 卩 jié, dialectically zié ([tsjě]; tsieh² in Wade–Giles)||ts||zi, z-||ts||字 zì|
|ㄘ||From 𠀁, archaic form of 七 qī, dialectically ciī ([tsʰí]; tsʻi¹ in Wade–Giles). Compare semi-cursive form
||tsʰ||ci, c-||tsʻ||詞 cí|
|ㄙ||From the archaic character 厶 sī, which was later replaced by its compound 私 sī.||s||si, s-||s||四 sì|
|Rhymes and medials|
|ㄚ||From 丫 yā||a||a||a||大 dà|
|ㄛ||From the obsolete character 𠀀 hē, inhalation, the reverse of 丂 kǎo, which is preserved as a phonetic in the compound 可 kě.||o||o||o||多 duō|
|ㄜ||Derived from its allophone in Standard Chinese, ㄛ o||ɤ||e||o/ê||得 dé|
|ㄝ||From 也 yě (also). Compare the Warring States bamboo form
|ㄞ||From 𠀅 hài, archaic form of 亥.||ai||ai||ai||晒 shài|
|ㄟ||From 乁 yí, an obsolete character meaning 移 yí "to move".||ei||ei||ei||誰 shéi|
|ㄠ||From 幺 yāo||au||ao||ao||少 shǎo|
|ㄡ||From 又 yòu||ou||ou||ou||收 shōu|
|ㄢ||From the archaic character 𢎘 hàn "to bloom", preserved as a phonetic in the compound 犯 fàn||an||an||an||山 shān|
|ㄣ||From 𠃉, archaic variant of 鳦 yǐ or 乚 yà (乚 is yǐn according to other sources)||ən||en||ên||申 shēn|
|ㄤ||From 尢 wāng||aŋ||ang||ang||上 shàng|
|ㄥ||From 𠃋, archaic form of 肱 gōng||əŋ||eng||êng||生 shēng|
|ㄦ||From 儿, the bottom portion of 兒 ér used as a cursive and simplified form||aɚ||er||êrh||而 ér|
|ㄧ||From 一 yī (one)||i||yi, -i||i||以 yǐ|
|ㄨ||From 㐅, ancient form of 五 wǔ (five). Compare the transitory form 𠄡.||u||w, wu, -u||u/w||努 nǔ|
|ㄩ||From the ancient character 凵 qū, which remains as a radical||y||yu, -ü||ü/yü||雨 yǔ|
||From the character 帀. It represents the minimal vowel of ㄓ，ㄔ，ㄕ，ㄖ，ㄗ，ㄘ，ㄙ， though it is not used after them in transcription.||ɻ̩~ʐ̩, ɹ̩~z̩||-i||ih/ŭ||資 zī|
Zhuyin is written in the same stroke order rule as Chinese characters. Note that ㄖ is written with three strokes, unlike the character from which it is derived (Chinese: 日; pinyin: rì), which has four strokes.
As shown in the following table, tone marks for the second, third, and fourth tones are shared between bopomofo and pinyin. In bopomofo, the lack of a marker is used to indicate the first tone while a dot above indicates the fifth tone (also known as the neutral tone). In pinyin, a macron (overbar) indicates the first tone and the lack of a marker indicates the fifth tone.
|Tone Marker||Unicode Name||Tone Marker||Unicode Name|
|1||(None)||(Not Applicable)||◌̄||Combining Macron|
|2||ˊ||Modifier Letter Acute Accent||◌́||Combining Acute Accent|
|4||ˋ||Modifier Letter Grave Accent||◌̀||Combining Grave Accent|
|5||˙||Dot Above||(None)||(Not Applicable)|
Unlike Hanyu Pinyin, Zhuyin aligns well with the hanzi characters in books whose texts are printed vertically, making Zhuyin better suited for annotating the pronunciation of vertically oriented Chinese text.
Zhuyin, when used in conjunction with Chinese characters, are typically placed to the right of the Chinese character vertically or to the top of the Chinese character in a horizontal print (see Ruby characters).
Below is an example for the word "bottle" (pinyin: píngzi):
Zhuyin and pinyin are based on the same Mandarin pronunciations, hence there is a one-to-one correspondence between the two systems:
1 Not written.
2 ⟨ü⟩ is written as ⟨u⟩ after ⟨j⟩, ⟨q⟩, ⟨x⟩, or ⟨y⟩.
3 ⟨ㄨㄛ⟩/⟨-uo⟩ is written as ⟨ㄛ⟩/⟨-o⟩ after ⟨ㄅ⟩/⟨-b⟩, ⟨ㄆ⟩/⟨-p⟩, ⟨ㄇ⟩/⟨-m⟩, ⟨ㄈ⟩/⟨-f⟩.
4 ⟨weng⟩ is pronounced [oŋ] (written as ⟨-ong⟩) when it follows an initial.
|example (Chinese characters)||妈/媽||麻||马/馬||骂/罵||吗/嗎|
Non-Standard Mandarin dialects
Three letters formerly used in non-standard dialects of Mandarin are now also used to write other Chinese varieties. Some Zhuyin fonts do not contain these letters; see External links for PDF pictures.
In Taiwan, Bopomofo is used to teach Taiwanese Hokkien, and is also used to transcribe it phonetically in contexts such as on storefront signs, karaoke lyrics, and film subtitles.
Zhuyin can be used as an input method for Chinese characters. It is one of the few input methods that can be found on most modern personal computers without the user having to download or install any additional software. It is also one of the few input methods that can be used for inputting Chinese characters on certain cell phones.
Zhuyin was added to the Unicode Standard in October 1991 with the release of version 1.0.
The Unicode block for Zhuyin, called Bopomofo, is U+3100–U+312F:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Additional characters were added in September 1999 with the release of version 3.0.
The Unicode block for these additional characters, called Bopomofo Extended, is U+31A0–U+31BF:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Unicode 3.0 also added the characters U+02EA and U+02EB, in the Spacing Modifier Letters block. These two characters are now (since Unicode 6.0) classified as Bopomofo characters.
- 中國文字改革委員會 (Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language). 漢語拼音方案（草案） (Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet (Draft)). Beijing. Feb 1956. Page 15. "注音字母是1913年拟定，1918年公布的。"
- "Pinyin celebrates 50th birthday". Xinhua News Agency. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- "ISO 7098:1982 – Documentation – Romanization of Chinese". Retrieved 2009-03-01.
- Shih Hsiu-Chuan (18 Sep 2008). "Hanyu Pinyin to be standard system in 2009". Taipei Times. p. 2.
- The Republic of China government, Government Information Office. "Taiwan Yearbook 2006: The People & Languages". Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. |Also available at
- Taiwan Headlines. "Taiwan Headlines: Society News: New Taiwanese dictionary unveiled". Government Information Office, Taiwan(ROC). Archived from the original on 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
- John DeFrancis. The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy. Honolulu, HI, USA: University of Hawaii Press, 1984. p. 242.
- Wenlin dictionary, entry 𠫓.
- "Unihan data for U+20000".
- Wenlin dictionary, entry 𠃉.
- "Unihan data for U+4E5A".
- Wenlin dictionary, entry 𠃋.
- Michael Everson, H. W. Ho, Andrew West, "Proposal to encode one Bopomofo character in the UCS", SC2 WG2 N3179.
- "The Zhuyin Alphabet 注音字母 Transcription System (Bo-po-mo-fo) (www.chinaknowledge.de)". www.chinaknowledge.de.
- "Scripts-6.0.0.txt". Unicode Consortium.
|Look up bopomofo in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- The Manual of The Phonetic Symbols of Mandarin Chinese
- Unicode reference glyphs for "bopomofo" (PDF). (69.6 KB) and "extended bopomofo" (PDF). (61.6 KB)
- Bopomofo annotations – adds inline and pop-up annotations with bopomofo pronunciation and English definitions to Chinese text or web pages.
- Mandarin Dictionary – needs Chinese font for Big5 encoding
- Chinese Phonetic Conversion Tool – converts between Pinyin, Zhuyin and other phonetic systems
- Chinese Romanization Converter – converts between Hanyu Pinyin, Wade–Giles, Gwoyeu Romatzyh and other known or (un-)common Romanization systems
- Bopomofo -> Wade-Giles -> Pinyin -> Word List
- NPA->IPA National Phonetic Alphabet (bopomofo) spellings of words transliterated into the International Phonetic Alphabet. The vowel values have been verified against the official IPA site. See IPA help preview, SIL International website. See IPA help preview, SIL International website. (Accessed 23-12-2010).
- Bopomofo to Pinyin converter and reverse
- bopomofo syllable chart, with Hanyu Pinyin equivalents
- Pinyin Annotator – adds bopomofo (bopomofo) or pinyin on top of any Chinese text, prompts alternative pronunciations to homonyms, has the option of exporting into OpenOffice Writer for further editing
- 《請利用螢幕上的小鍵盤輸入注音符號》 – online keyboard for bopomofo which can turn it into Chinese characters
- Online Zhuyin-Bopomofo Input Method Editor 免费在线中文输入法，使用注音