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Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Zhuyin Fuhao, often shortened as zhuyin and commonly called bopomofo, is a type of sound-based writing for the Chinese language. In Chinese, "bo", "po", "mo" and "fo" are the first four of the conventional ordering of available syllables. As a result, the four syllables together have been used to refer to many different phonetic systems. For Chinese speakers who were first introduced to the Zhuyin system, "bopomofo" means zhuyin fuhao.

Origin of zhuyin symbols
Zhuyin Pinyin Origin
b From , the top portion bāo
p From , the combining form of
m From , the archaic form of the radical
f From fāng
d From the archaic form of dāo. Compare the bamboo form .
t From the upside-down seen at the top of
n From /𠄎, ancient form of nǎi
l Calligraphic form of
g From the obsolete character guì/kuài 'river'
k From from 考 kǎo
h From hàn
j From the archaic character from 纠 jiū
q From the archaic character quǎn, graphic root of the character chuān (modern )
x From , a seal form of xià.
zh From 之-seal.svg/𡳿, archaic form of zhī.
ch From the radical chì
sh From the character shī
r A semi-cursive form of
z From the radical jié, dialectically zié
c Variant of qī, dialectically ciī. Compare semi-cursive form and seal-script .
s From the old character sī, which was later replaced by its compound sī.
i, y From
u, w From , ancient form of wǔ.
ü, yu From the ancient character qū, which remains as a radical
a From
o From the obsolete character 𠀀 hē, inhalation, the reverse of kǎo, which is preserved as a phonetic in the compound kě.[1]
e Derived from its allophone in Standard Mandarin, o
e From yě. Compare the Warring States bamboo form
ai From 𠀅 hài, bronze form of .
ei From yí, an obsolete character meaning "to move".
ao From yāo
ou From yòu
an From the obsolete character hàn "to bloom", preserved as a phonetic in the compound fàn
en From yǐn
ang From wāng
eng From , an obsolete form of gōng
er From , the bottom portion of ér used as a cursive form
i (MoeKai Bopomofo U+312D.svg, and inverted ) Perhaps , in addition to . It is the minimal vowel of , , , , , , that is spelled "ih" in Tongyong Pinyin and Wade-Giles and "i" in pinyin.

The zhuyin characters are represented in typographic fonts as if drawn with an ink brush (as in Regular Script). They are encoded in Unicode in the bopomofo block, in the range U+3105 ... U+312D.

History[change | change source]

After the overthrow of China's last emperor during the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the new government in China created Zhuyin to help the common people read more easily.[2] However, the Chinese Communist Party, including Mao Zedong himself, wanted to ban writing Chinese characters altogether and replace them with the Latin alphabet.[3] When the People's Liberation Army defeated the Kuomintang (the founding party of the Republic of China) in 1949 and sent them off to exile in Taiwan, the use of Zhuyin dropped in mainland China because the CPC was interested in using the Latin alphabet for writing Chinese phonetically.[2] However, Zhuyin is still widely used in Taiwan as it is used to type Chinese on computer and phone keyboards.

Features[change | change source]

Zhuyin was made to closely represent the sounds of Mandarin Chinese. Symbols are divided into two categories, the initials (the first sounds in a syllable), and the finals (the main vowel, the glide consonants ([y/i; IPA:/j/] and [w/u; IPA:/w/]) that come before the main vowel, and all the sound that comes after it). There are 4 tone marks to represent the 5 Mandarin tones.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Unihan data for U+ 20000".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Zhuyin fuhao / Bopomofo". omniglot.com. Retrieved 2017-07-09.
  3. "Oracle Bones". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-07-09.