Writing systems of certain languages do not provide sufficient information about the pronunciation of the words or have a significant number of words/word forms where it's not provided. To provide the information about the pronunciation to children or adult learners, these languages use additional scripts or a modified script, written next/above/below/before/after the main text.
The phonetic guides are used when the intended audience may not have mastered the reading without them - language education texts for children, foreigners or dialect speakers; when the correct pronunciation is considered very important - religious texts, some poetry, dictionaries for disambiguation purposes. It can be used when certain words are known to be difficult - geographical or personal names or when the pronunciation is counter-intuitive.
Some examples of the major languages with difficult writing systems and the most common phonetic guides used:
- Japanese language - Furigana (振り仮) (usually written as small Hiragana (平仮名,) above or next to the main text)
- Chinese language (Mandarin) - Hànyǔ pīnyīn (汉语拼音) (mainland China), Zhuyin Fuhao (注音符号) (Taiwan) (also called Bopomofo ㄅㄆㄇㄈ). Chinese Cantonese may use a number of romanisations for the same purpose but this is not standardised.
- Arabic language - Harakāt (حركات), also known as Tashkīl (تشكيل) - vowel marks.
- Hebrew language - Niqqud, also known as Nekudot (נִקּוּד) - vowel marks.
- English language - uses a number of respelling systems or transcriptions.
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