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Zhyīn Fho (注音符號), or "The Notation of Annotated Sounds", often abbreviated as Zhuyin, or known as Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) for the first four syllables in this Chinese phonetic symbols, is the national phonetic system of the Republic of China (based on Taiwan) for teaching the Chinese languages, especially Mandarin to illiterate Mandarin-speaking children (See Uses). The system uses 37 special symbols to represent the Mandarin sounds: 21 consonants and 16 vowels. There is a one symbol-one sound correspondence.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Symbol origins
3 Uses
4 Writing
5 Zhuyin vs. Hanyu Pinyin
6 See also
7 External links


Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation led by Woo Tsin-hang from 1912 to 13 created a system called Guoyin Zimu (國音字母 "National Language Symbols") or Zhuyin Zimu (註音字母 or 注音字母 "Sound-annotating Symbols") which is based on Zhang Binglin's shorthands. (For differences with the Zhang system, see Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation#Phonetic symbols.) A draft was released on July 11, 1913 by the Republic of China National Ministry of Education, the it was not officially proclaimed until November 23, 1918, however. Zhuyin Zimu was renamed to Zhuyin Fuhao in April 1930.

The ROC Education Ministry has attempted for many years to phase out the use of Zhuyin in favor of a system based on Roman characters (see MPS II). However, this transition has been extremely slow due to the difficulty in teaching elementary school teachers a new Roman-based system.

Symbol origins

Despite the lack of an official document was release explaining the details of the origin, later scholars pointed out the origins of some of the symbols, which are mainly fragments (not Simplified Chinese) from a character that contains the sounds that they represent. For example: A small number was done by additional strokes, for example: A minority is virtually identical to Chinese characters still in use, for example: Many are nearly entirely identical radicalss with the same sounds, for example: Other symbols, mostly vowel symbols, are based entirely or partly on obsolete variants of characters, for example: There remains many to be completely new design (or at least have origin so obscured that non-inventors cannot easily recognize), constrained only by the need to appear like a Chinese character and can be written so. As a result, in typography, they almost always are written like using an ink brush in the Regular Script style of Chinese calligraphy.


These ruby characters are printed next to the Chinese characters in young children's books. One seldom sees these symbols used in adult publications except as pronunciation guide (or index system) in dictionary entries. Bopomofo is also used as an input method for Chinese text in computer.

Unlike pinyin, the sole purpose for zhuyin in elementary education is to teach proper Mandarin pronunciation to children. School children learn the symbols so that they can look up pronunciation in a Chinese dictionary properly. Pinyin, on the other hand, is dual-purpose. Other than a pronunciation notation, pinyin is used widely in publications in mainland China. Some books from mainland China are published purely in pinyin with no trace of a single Chinese character. Those books are targeted to minority tribal groups or Westerners who know verbal Mandarin but have difficulty recognizing written Chinese characters.


Zhuyin symbols are written like Chinese characters, including the general order of strokes and positioning. It is always to the right of the Chinese characters, whether the characters are vertical or horizontal. Very rarely do they appear on top of Chinese characters when written horizontally.

Zhuyin vs. Hanyu Pinyin

Zhuyin and Pinyin are based on the same Mandarin pronunciations, hence a 1-to-1 mapping between the two systems. Zhuyin is used in Taiwan with bopomofo symbols. Pinyin is used in Mainland China with roman symbols.

Bopomofo/zhuyin (the 'zhuyin' and 'pinyin' columns shows equivalency)
zhuyinpinyin zhuyinpinyin zhuyinpinyin zhuyinpinyin
G K  H    
J  Q  X    
Zh Ch Sh R
Z  C  S    
A  O  E  Ê
Ai Ei Ao  Ou
An  En  Ang Eng
Er  I  U  Ü

Dialect (non-Mandarin) letters (not many web browsers can display these glyphs, see #External links for PDF pictures.)
CharName CharName CharName
V  Ng Gn

Extended Bopomofo for Min-nan and Hakka
CharName CharName CharName CharName
Bu  Oo  Im  Ong
Zi  Onn Ngg  Innn
Ji  Ir  Ainn  Final P
Gu  Ann Aunn  Final T
Ee  Inn Am  Final K
Enn Unn Om  Final H

See also

External links