The system was imposed by Japan at the time, and used in a few dictionaries, as well as textbooks. The Taiwanese-Japanese Dictionary, published in 1931–32, is an example. It uses various signs and diacritics to denote sounds that do not exist in Japanese. The system is chiefly based on the Amoy dialect of Hokkien.
Through the system, the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan aimed to help Taiwanese people learn the Japanese language, as well as help Japanese people learn the Taiwanese language. Linguistically speaking, however, the syllabary system was cumbersome for a language that has phonology far more complicated than Japanese. After Japanese administration ended, the system soon became obsolete. Now, only a few scholars, such as those who study the aforementioned dictionary, learn Taiwanese kana.
Mapped sounds are mostly similar to katakana in Japanese, with the kana ヤ, ユ, ヨ, ワ, ヰ, and ヱ not used. Each syllable is written with two or three kana (with a few exceptions). Notable differences include:
There are six vowels in Taiwanese: ア[a], イ[i], ウ[u], エ[e], オ[ɔ], ヲ[ə]. Note that the pronunciations of オ and ヲ are different from Japanese.
The vowel ヲ is pronounced [u] in the diphthongsヲア[ua] and ヲエ[ue], also their extensions such as ヲァイ[uai], ヲァッ[uat̚]. In some dialects ヲ may be pronounced [o] or [ɤ].
In syllables with a single vowel, the kana for the vowel is repeated, like the long vowels in Japanese. For example, カア[ka], キイ[ki], オオ[ɔ], ヲヲ[ə].
The small kana ァ, ィ, ゥ, ェ, ォ, ヲ are defined as short vowels. They are used to represent the second vowel in the middle of a syllable, or a final glottal stop. For example, キァウ[kiau], キェク for [kiek̚], キァゥ[kiauʔ].
There are two optional vowel kana for Choâⁿ-chiu accent (Quanzhou dialect): ウ[ɨ] and オ[ə]. For example, クウ[kɨ], コオ[kə], クゥヌ[kɨn].
When a text is written vertically, these signs are written on the right side of letters. Taiwanese kana is only attested in vertical orientation, so it is unknown where the signs would be placed if it were written horizontally.
Initial consonants [m], [n], [ŋ] are always written with nasal vowel tone signs, whereas [b], [l], [ɡ] are always with normal vowels. Note that [ŋ] and [ɡ] share the same initial kana.