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Stroke order for ㄖ and ㄓ[edit]

Is it really commonly accepted that ㄖ has 3 strokes (rather than the expected 4 strokes had it been a 漢字). For example, in this animation from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan it has 4 strokes: [1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:51, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

I am not the poster above, but I do verify that the learning web of the Ministry of Education in Taiwan [2] lists 4 strokes as the first entry for ㄖ, and 3 strokes as a variant. Ditto for ㄓ where 4 strokes is listed as the first entry [3] and 3 strokes as a variant.
Also the 常用國字標準字體筆順手冊 (which is listed as an authoritative source for the stroke order graphics (e.g. [4])) does back up the statement above that 4 strokes are expected had ㄖ been a 漢字. (See Rule no.9).
I'd also say that although the rule does not directly apply to ㄓ, 出 which is of similar shape is listed in Rule no.16 with a stroke order supporting the 4 strokes variant. Juxtap (talk) 09:50, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


  • It is also known as Bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ) for the first four syllables in the Mandarin Phonetic symbols.
  • The first four symbols in the system are bo, po, mo, fo, hence Zhuyin is also known as bopomofo to some westerners.

The above two sentences are basically the same, so I deleted the second sentence. Menchi 06:58 Dec 23, 2002 (UTC)


What's the rationale behind ht echaracter shapes? Are they simplifications of something? Arbitrary? -- Error

Not all are arbitrary. Many have visible traces: ㄅ (b) ← 白 (bai), ㄆ (p) ← 波 (po). Can you see the "bones"?
But the creators (including Woo Tsin-hang) actually never published the origin I believe. And the "theories" I've read are post hoc.
--Menchi 03:34 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)
Added the origins of those symbols without dispute @ #Symbol origins. --Menchi 02:20, Aug 16, 2003 (UTC)
The Chinese version of this article has a good chart detailing the origins of all the symbols. I believe that is my source. --OneTopJob6 00:16, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

In the origins chart, some of the symbols were blank boxes, and some of the items didn’t make sense, so I plan to clean it up a bit. I rely on the authoritative 漢語大字典 Hànyǔ Dàzìdiǎn, and extensive reading of ancient through archaic graphical forms through various etymological works. I show here the earlier versions plus my planned imminent changes for your convenient comparison, to facilitate any discussion required. This is a big project so I am first posting some of the planned changes (worded as if already changed, so I don't need to alter every verb when I implement this) and the rationale, and once I've filled in all the items I will make all the changes if there are no well-informed objections.

ㄝ (e) ← 也 (yě); cp. ancient Seal form
ㄝ (e) ← 也 (yě)
Reason for deletion: The zhuyin symbol ‘’much’’ more closely resembles the modern 也 (just without the downward hook on the first, horizontal stroke) than it does the ancient seal form Ye3 also seal.png, so the inclusion of the "cp." reference isn't very useful to the average reader, even though the zhuyin symbol could in theory be distilled from either one. It also resembles, btw, this 信陽楚簡 bamboo graph from the Warring States period more closely than the seal form: Ye3 also chu3jian3 warring state of chu3 small.png

ㄞ (ai) ←[empty box was here] (hài); ancient form of 亥
ㄞ (ai) ←Hai4 last EarthlyBranch mid Zhou bronze form.png (hài); ancient form of 亥
The graph was missing. I have added the closest of the ancient forms I could find: Hai4 last EarthlyBranch mid Zhou bronze form.png from a middle Zhou dynasty bronze vessel, the 號季子白盤 Hào Jì Zĭ Bái Pán; it’s almost identical to ㄞ except for an extra stroke atop it. If anyone locates a closer form, please replace this of course.

old ㄟ (ei) ← 乁 (yí) [not 飞 (fēi)]
new ㄟ (ei) ← 乁 (yí, an obsolete graph meaning 移 yí, to move) [not 飞 (fēi)]
乁 (yí) is obsolete, and not a graph the layman will be familiar with, which is why many may jump to an assocation with the more familiar飞 (fēi). 漢語大字典 Hànyǔ Dàzìdiǎn p.20c confirms yí, an obsolete graph from Shuōwén, synonymous and homophonous with 移 yí, to move. I believe that adding a brief explanation as above will help clarify.

ㄉ (d) ← 刀 (dāo)
No changes; I merely note out of interest: the minor stylistic difference at the upper left is archaistic. Cf. OB and bamboo forms. Dao1 knife OB 1.png Dao1 knife bamboo graph.png

ㄌ (l) ← 力 (lì)
No changes; I merely note that the stylistic difference at the upper left is common in calligraphy, in case anyone was wondering.

old ㄘ (c) ← [graph missing] (cī, now pronounced qī); ancient form of 七; '7'
new ㄘ (c) ← Qi1 seven seal.png Qi1 seven semicursive.png (cī, now pronounced qī); seal and semicursive forms of 七; '7'
Yes, the seal Qi1 seven seal.png and semi cursive Qi1 seven semicursive.png forms have the final, downward flick which the modern 七 lacks. The semicursive is not exactly ‘ancient’, either, btw.

old ㄅ (b) ← 勹 (bāo); ancient form of 包
new ㄅ (b) ← 勹 (bāo); top portion of 包
No, 勹 (in this graphic form) is emphatically not the ancient form of 包. It is, rather, quite clearly the ‘’extraction’’ of the ‘’modern top portion’’ of the ‘’modern’’ character 包. (The ‘’ancient’’ top portion was Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png, not 勹. The former is the seal version of the latter, but they are not the ‘’same’’. Furthermore, Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png is not the historical 包 graph, but rather the graphic extraction of its ‘package’ component by 許慎 Xŭ Shèn in 說文解字 Shuōwén Jiézì so that he could use it as a 部首 bùshǒu (section header). Forgive me if I split hairs, but philology demands precision.
To clarify on the seal forms, Shuōwén lists two graphs, Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png and Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png. The former corresponds to (i.e., is the seal form of the artificial graphic extraction or component) 勹 while the latter corresponds to 包. We cannot say that the obviously ‘’modern’’ 勹 is the ancient form of its complete character 包, which is what the original Wiki entry said. Nor is it ‘’safe’’ to say that Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png is the ancient form of 包 because the former doesn’t appear, AFAIK, anywhere except in Shuōwén, and I strongly suspect that this was merely one of the many ‘graphic extractions’ by Xŭ Shèn for the purposes of building his section headers (部首 bùshǒu (classifiers)), rather than an actual character in use (please feel free to identify any actual example in use, outside of dictionaries quoting each other, if you disagree). The full character 包 was, rather, Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png.
In sum, it only makes sense to refer to the modern zhuyin symbol of ㄅ as being equivalent to 勹 (bāo), which is the (modern) top portion of 包. Adding the seal form of 勹 does not help explicate the symbol ㄅ, nor is it meaningful to confound the whole seal form with its 部首 bùshǒu graphic extraction.

ㄨ (u) ← ㄨ (wǔ); ancient form of 五
Yes, I can confirm this. The ㄨ form, found on items as early as 二里頭 Èrlĭtóu and 小屯 Xiǎotún pottery, as well as on the oracle bones at 安陽 Ānyáng, is thought to be earlier* than the X form with bars top and bottom. It was also used as late as the Warring States period in the eastern regions, as evidenced by its inclusion as the inappropriately named 古文 in Shuōwén. * source: 趙誠 Zhào Chéng (1988) 甲骨文簡明詞典 – 卜辭分類讀本 ISBN 7-101-00254-4/H•22.

old ㄓ (zh) ← [graph missing] (zhī); ancient form of 之
new ㄓ (zh) ← Zhi1 seal.png (zhī); seal form of 之
Graph added. Yes, this form is based on some OB, stone, seal and bronze forms. The seal form adequately represents the ancient forms in this case.

old ㄋ (n) ←乃 (nǎi)
new ㄋ (n) ← Nai3 seal form.png and Nai3 chu silk form.png; archaic forms (here seal and Warring States Chu silk manuscript) of 乃 (nǎi)
Graphs added. This is not so much an extraction from 乃 (nǎi) as the original Wiki entry implies. Rather, through much of its history, 乃 was written in a manner similar to ㄋ. I have selected the two most similar here, but the archaic form extends to the beginning, as illustrated in the oracle bone form Nai3 OB.png.

old ㄒ (x) ← 丅 (xià); ancient form of 下
new ㄒ (x) ← 丅 (xià); a seal form of 下
More specifically one of the two seal forms given in Shuōwén. I write “a” seal form as it is not the only one. Another Xia4 down seal with kink.png has a crooked tail, and a small horizontal stroke resembling the modern dot.

ㄙ (s) ← 厶 (sī); ancient form of 私
Yes, the compound 私 sī meaning ‘grain’ was borrowed phonetically as a variant way to write its phonetic element 厶 sī, which meant ‘private, personal’ etc.. Eventually the variant form 私 supplanted 厶 and lost its meaning of ‘grain’. For the meaning ‘private’ of厶, I present the following evidence: 1) Xu Shen quotes the 韓非子 Hánfēizĭ as saying 自營爲厶, i.e., 厶 means 自營 zì yíng ‘self-profiting, selfish’. 2) In his SW commentary under ㄙ sī, 段育裁 Duàn Yùcái notes 公私字本如此, i.e., 私 meaning ‘private; selfish’ was originally written thusly, i.e., as ㄙ. ㄙ also appears contrasted with 公 in《藝文類聚》卷五十一引三國 吳環濟 《帝王要略》:爵有五等, 公者,無ㄙ也。 Dragonbones (talk) 15:39, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm really sorry to have to say this, but isn't this original research?
Does the "漢語大字典 Hànyǔ Dàzìdiǎn...and various etymological works" contain anything specifically about the origin of zhuyin symbols? Is this your own conclusions based on the "漢語大字典 Hànyǔ Dàzìdiǎn, and extensive reading of ancient through archaic graphical forms through various etymological works", or is it based on already published research regarding the origin of zhuyin symbols? LDHan (talk) 18:36, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Good question. I would answer as follows: For the most part, I'm merely adding illustrations to support the origins of zhuyin symbols as already present on the Wiki page. These are drawn from published works; the graphs are faithfully reproduced by hand and overlaid in Photoshop to ensure no significant variance, in order to produce copyright free images. When Wiki says 'ancient form of x graph', I merely go find the a relevant illustration based on a published work which I've cited. For the most part, I'm not concluding anything about the origins of zhuyin symbols not already present on the Wiki page. Furthermore:
a) I refer to the Hanyu Dazidian and Shuowen for the fact of the existence of two seal forms of 丅 (xià); a seal form of 下 (and not for the fact of this being the origin of the bopomofo symbol, which is already stated on the existing Wiki page). The suggestion to add "a" is editorial clarification. That does not constitute original research.
b) I refer to the Hanyu Dazidian for the definition of 乁 (yí, an obsolete graph meaning 移 yí, to move). The suggestion to add its definition isn't original research; it's editorial clarification, as is the more specific identification of it as the seal rather than just any old ancient form. Looking up info in an established, authoritative text isn't original research.
c) Removing the reference to the seal form in "::ㄝ (e) ← 也 (yě); cp. ancient Seal form " is editorial change for clarity, as the consulting of the established textual authority demonstrates that it bears little resemblance to the zhuyin symbol. The addition of "cp. ancient Seal form" will only confuse. This is not original research.
d) Filling in the missing graphs, when the kind of graph is already stated on the existing Wiki page, isn't exactly original research either. When it says "[graph missing] ancient form of 亥", one can refer to a spread of ancient forms in an etymological dictionary, and see the corresponding form or a variety of corresponding forms from different periods. Adding an illustration of the already stated fact isn't original research any more than adding a picture of a lawnmower is, in an article thereupon. If I were to state that no, ㄝ is based not upon 也 but upon 乜 mie1, THAT would be original research. If we can find a published article specifically stating that the creators were looking at the bronze form on a particular vessel, of course, that is better than me picking the closest version I can find. But me picking the closest version I can find, by way of illustration, is not original research establishing the fact of the ㄞ graph being based on 亥, which is the crux of the matter. My "extensive reading of ancient through archaic graphical forms through various etymological works" is not being used to support changes to the proposed origins of the zhuyin symbols; it is, rather, helpful to me in knowing what published sources to go to and how to read them. Perhaps I should have omitted that statement. Anyway, this is my interpretation of the rule, and I of course welcome discussion and disagreement. Perhaps in the 亥 case, rather than "::ㄞ (ai) ←Hai4 last EarthlyBranch mid Zhou bronze form.png (hài); ancient form of 亥", it would be safer to write "::ㄞ (ai) ← ancient form of 亥 (hài); cf. mid-Zhou bronze graph Hai4 last EarthlyBranch mid Zhou bronze form.png" ?? This way the illustration is by way of comparison rather than definitively from this particular example. Are others more comfortable with this approach? In the case of ㄘ, providing the two illustrations is a bit safer, since they do exactly match the zhuyin graph, and again, they are merely illustrative of the fact already stated on the page, rather than my own establishment of that fact.
e) In the case of "old ㄅ (b) ← 勹 (bāo); ancient form of 包" and "new ㄅ (b) ← 勹 (bāo); top portion of 包", I rely on the established published authorities of Hanyu Dazidian and Shuowen to show what the ancient form of 包 looks like. It doesn't take a genius to see that Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png (the ancient form of 包 according to both books) does not equal 勹, which is a modern kaishu-styled bushou element. So, using published, authoritative works, it is easy to show this. That is not original research. Now, whether or not Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png is the original form of Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png would be problematic, if that were relevant to the change being proposed, as my original research leads me to believe that it is not the original, and merely a graphic extraction. However, I have stated this merely as an interesting aside to readers of the commentary page. I.e., even if one accepts that Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png is the original form of Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png based on Xu Shen's assertion to this effect (and two other minor works that parrot the assertion, with no supporting textual evidence in sight), the published fact is not that "勹 (bāo) is the ancient form of 包" but that Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png is the original form of Bao1 wrap seal of full graph.png. No one would dispute that 勹 is the modern structural and stylistic rendering of Bao1 wrap seal of bushou section only.png. Clearly then, "new ㄅ (b) ← 勹 (bāo); top portion of 包" is unobjectionable.
f)The remainder of my comments above are either confirmation of the existing wiki page, in which case whether or not they are original research isn't very relevant, since no changes are being proposed, or they are similar identification of appropriate illustrations based on established, published sources. In the instance of ::old ㄋ (n) ←乃 (nǎi), I merely add the historical version(s) of nai3 which obviously correspond to the zhuyin symbol. I don't see how that's objectionable.
If there are any specific instances not already addressed here re: whether or not original research is involved I'd be happy to discuss it further. Dragonbones (talk) 09:12, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
A lot of the alleged "Seal Script" forms in the article are anything but. kwami (talk) 19:32, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

removals: "Zhuyin's Mainlander equivalent is pinyin."[edit]

Removed: "Zhuyin's Mainlander equivalent is pinyin." Pinyin is a romanization system, which is often employed for different purposes. (No signs in Taiwan are in zhuyin!) --Jiang

  • But pinyin and zhuyin are equivalents in terms of use in dictionaries and textbooks. And yes, there are some sign annotations in zhuyin in Taiwan, especially at educational exhibits in museums and the like. Just because one kind of item (street signs) isn't in zhuyin doesn't mean the two systems aren't basically equivalent in purpose. Dragonbones (talk) 07:02, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

I think the mere fact that pinyin is a romanization and zhuyin is not would indicate that the two systems are not basically equivalent in purpose, despite the fact that the two systems are both used to show the pronunciation of Chinese characters in dictionaries and textbooks. LDHan (talk) 14:42, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

One of pinyin's use is indeed romanization. But that's the most common use that westerners see. Pinyin is taught for pronunciation and transcribing purposes in elementary school in mainland China. As someone who went through elementary school there, I can attest that pinyin's primary purpose is the same as that of zhuyin. Finally, pinyin was created to replace pinyin not to romanize the Chinese language. (talk) 01:56, 31 May 2010 (UTC) <- [Forgot to sign in] Misosoup7 (talk) 01:57, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


五: This 五, means "5". My source is Habein and Mathias Complete guide to Everyday Kanji. There it decribes this character as being a pictogram of a bobbin, used first as phonetic element, then replacing a character consisting of five strokes.

The etymology as "Ying, yang, Heaven and Earth" must be considered to be at least "disputed", though I'm aware that zhongwen has the Ying, yang etymology. Personally, I find the etymology there has the feel of folk etymology. I find Habein and Mathias more convincing.

I propose removing the etymology, as it digressional and disputed. Zeimusu 12:16, 2004 Apr 30 (UTC)

It is unlikely that the character in question objectifies a bobbin as its usage dates back to as early as the Shang Jiaguwen, a period in which bone scriptures were used to forecast future events. The Wuxing was the central ideology behind this as they were believed to have spawned all things tangible and intangible within the universe, which were in turn given to rise by Yin and Yang. The character is likely, then, to be a derivative of this notion. Furthermore, as the book of your mentioning deals with Kanji and not Hanzi (synonymous yes, but only in the sense of what is written), the character etymology may not be consistent with the ancient Chinese form. --Taoster 00:19, 1 May 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure I follow the reasoning here. That this character is very old is not disputed, but I don't see why that should be seen as evidence against it having, originally, a mundane meaning. I don't see why, even given the central importance of wuxing to the ancient people, that this makes it likely that this character is derived from wuxing.

Then again I wonder how this character came to have the meaning "5". Habein and Mathias claim it is a case of homonynomy.

Also, the argument that Habein and Mathias is a Kanji book, and therefore may not be consitent with hanzi is false. The period we are discussing (as you say, as early as Shang Jiaguwen, and before) predates the introduction of chinese characters to Japan. So the etymologies discussed are the etymologies of the character in China, so there is no hanzi/kanji distiction. Habein and Mathias reference Western, Japanese and Chinese authors in their bibliography.

Either, one or both of these etymologies is wrong, or there were two characters, identical in form but differing in meaning in ancient China.

In any case, the original meaning of this character is of marginal importance to the development of Zhuyin, and on that basis alone I think the remark should be removed.

Zeimusu 15:26, 2004 May 1 (UTC)

Duly noted, but realize that the character is composed of four strokes and not five. Also, there IS a distinction between Hanzi and Kanji IF the etymology as described in the book is based on any of several post Seal Script forms, however delineated. I think the real dispute here is whether the character is a logograph or a pictograph. --Taoster 00:29, 2 May 2004 (UTC)

That's true. -- I have removed the etymology as per my last paragraph, and I'll go look at the image page of Ancient Chinese five.png and see if there is a more appropriate place for character etymology. Zeimusu 12:35, 2004 May 2 (UTC)

I hadn't noticed this discussion before. I just checked my giant etymological dictionary. According to it, the jiagu records were either "X" or "X" with bars top and bottom. A bronze-script alternative was five horizontal strokes -- which could get confusing in a line of numbers. Another reason given for favoring the "barred X" form was that 1, 2, 3, and 4 were viewed as one mini-series, and 6, 7, 8, and 9 were viewed as a second mini-series, and the double-ended format of "X" suggested a connecting link between similar series. P0M 00:17, 18 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  • To continue this aside on the etymology of ㄨ and 五, (this directed at Taoster) there is no evidence of Wuxing philosophy shaping the OB (jiagu) characters, and rather than the characters having fundamental abstract meanings, it is widely believed by etymologists that they tend to be based on the concrete and that which is easy to depict. Such graphs for concrete forms were then borrowed, often much later, in order to write more abstract notions. So readings of abstract, Yinyang notions into etymology tend to be BS, even when written by someone as influential as 許慎 Xŭ Shèn. Thus, regarding the 'bobbin' or 'spool' theory (by 丁山 Dīng Shān, I think), it is based on the notion of the word for 'five' (now wu3) being homophonous with an old word for 'spool', the character for which was later written 互 plus 竹 atop it, pronounced hu4. That graph is obsolete now. Note that 互 is also almost identical in graphic form to the 五 graph. The homography and homophony are strong evidence for this theory. (The modern, colloquial term for 'spool' is now different: 絞絲器 jiǎosīqì, lit. 'silk winding tool'.) The 互/五 (or rather, the graphic ancestor of both these) was borrowed for 'five' and also later for 'mutual', with the two eventually diverging graphically.
  • This is one theory. Another is that the X form is just an arbitrary symbol. As for the OB form of five, there are basically four: a bare ㄨ (X), an X barred top and bottom with the bars not extending past the diagonals (like a black widow's hourglass), an X barred top and bottom with the bars extending past the diagonals (like the Roman numeral) and five horizontal strokes. Acc. to 趙誠 Zhào Chéng, the bare form is considered, based on current archaeological evidence, to be earlier than the barred form. The barred form is more common. The only evidence of its meaning in the OB is as 'five'. Just FYI. (Source: 趙誠 Zhào Chéng (1988) 甲骨文簡明詞典 – 卜辭分類讀本 jiǎgǔwén jiǎnmíng cídiǎn – bǔcí fēnlèi dúbĕn. 中華書局 Zhōnghúa Shūjú, ISBN 7-101-00254-4/H•22).
  • Regardless, we can safely say that the zhuyin symbol ㄨ wu is from one of the OB forms of its homophone 五 wu3. Dragonbones (talk) 08:21, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
  • How about ㄅ (b) ← from 包 (bao), another Chinese character more similar. Briston 10:23, 6 Sep 2004 (UTC)
That seems more plausible, judging from the Chinese version of this article and the explanations on this page from a linguist in Taiwan (in Traditional Chinese):


Why does this page have the Chinese Romanization template? There is perfectly good reason to have all those articles about representing Chinese words phonetically conveniently linked to from here, but labeling Zhuyin as a Romanization scheme is just plain incorrect since it doesn't use the Roman alphabet. [[User:Livajo|力伟|т]] 06:03, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)


QUote: Zhuyin will probably never replace Traditional Chinese just as hiragana has never replaced characters in Japanese texts even though it substituting hiragana for characters is always an option. Not only are the characters valued for esthetic and other axiological reasons, but (once they have been learned) reading characters required fewer eye fixations and eliminates the ambiguities in any alphabetic or syllabic writing system caused by the immense number of homonyms in Chinese. (Reading Chinese in a phonetic representation is like trying to understand a spoken English sentence containing a string of homonyms such as: "For afore Forry called four 'Fores!'..." because almost any spelled-out "word" maps to more than one Chinese character. In English, we use different spellings of one sound such as "for" to differentiate the intended meanings. In zhuyin -- minus the word "called" -- that would look something like the following ㄈㄡㄦㄚㄈㄡㄦㄈㄡㄦㄧ... ㄈㄡㄦㄈㄡㄦㄗ.) end quote

This statement seems to have missed the fact that tonal marks are (or can be) used to show the difference between tones...

True, but the addition of tone marks has not been enough to make reading any non-character rendering comfortable for readers who know hanzi.

Even with tones, there are still hundreds of homonyms.-- Baoluo 05:50, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

If Hanzi was replaced by an alphabetic or syllabic writing system, then written Chinese would change, eg less use of single syllable words etc. If it can be understood read aloud then it can be written down with an alphabetic or syllabic writing system without any confusion at all. LDHan 11:38, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

response to top most comment in this section- just use special accent marks to show the different tones and homonyms..... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:02, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

No, as shown in Lion-Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_Den, the accent marks does not help. --DyChen 01:01 02-Sep-2009.
How does it show it does not help? Also, how is this section relevant to the article? --LjL (talk) 11:23, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

content for pages[edit]

Anyone thought of putting Zhuyin onto various chinese related article pages next to the pinyin and Wade-Giles representations?

Better put your comment into Wikipedia talk:China-related topics notice board because a consensus should be reached prior doing so. -- G.S.K.Lee 14:06, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

minor correction regarding 幺[edit]

The article originally said that 幺 is an entirely obsolete character. But besides being used as the simplified version of "mo" (as in shemma, etc.), it shows up when Googled in many kinship terms, "my father was the 'little' son of the family", etc. It occurs in a couple of compounds in the Guo2 yu3 ci2 dian3, including one that means "second-rate prostitute". So it is not "entirely obsolete." P0M 06:07, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Haha, 幺 as used for "second-rate prostitute" is a native Shanghainese word. I've never heard it used for Mandarin though. --Mamin27 06:26, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
么 pronounces as "ma2" (simplified version as in shenma (什麼 → 什么), but usually pronounces as shenmo) and 幺 pronounces as "yao1" (explanation see above). Many texts get messed up by these two words due to their similar shapes. -- Hello World! 18:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
There is some historical basis for this. The traditional characters for 么 exist in two versions: 麼 with 幺 and 麽 with 么. In the Chinese input methods in Windows, 么 is listed under "yao", and 幺 isn't even listed in one of them. In the CEDICT Chinese dictionary, several words containing "yao1" are listed with 么, but none with 幺. Finally, the Unihan database lists 么 as a simplified version of 幺. So clearly, in some ways they can be considered the same character. Rōnin (talk) 09:30, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Note on "bopomofo"[edit]

"Bopomofo", the colloquial name of Zhuyin, are also the first four syllables of the official Hanyu pinyin scheme. As a result, it is also sometimes colloquially used to refer to Pinyin in mainland China (instead of Zhuyin, which has all but disappeared in mainland China). To avoid confusion, that name should be used sparingly. --Sumple (Talk) 07:03, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

The term "zhuyin" is not correct either. In Taiwan the informal way that people who are not teachers (or pedants?) refer to it is "bo po mo fo". The term you will find in the dictionary is 注音符號 or NPA (national phonetic alphabet). P0M 03:13, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm from Hong Kong. "bopomofo" makes me first think of pinyin but not zhuyin. Also, I think it's better to rename this page as its official title; as I'm afraid that it would confuse foreign English speakers. (I came to this page by searching 'Zhuyin' and it turned to a page named 'bopomofo', which puzzled me:) I suggest to create a 'bopomofo' diverging page for both 'pinyin' and 'zhuyin'. Hermesw (talk) 17:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Move to Zhuyin method[edit]

Should this article be moved to "Zhuyin method" to be consistent with Pinyin method and Cangjie method? Leon math 21:35, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

This comment was originally at the top of the page. P0M 03:13, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Oops, sorry. Leon math 16:33, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
If there is an article called Zhuyin method, it should be linked to zh:注音輸入法. - Hello World! 18:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Usage in dialects other than Mandarin[edit]

Should that be languages rather than dialects? For example, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Mandarin are all mutually UNintelligible, making the proper classification among them as distinct languages rather than dialects of the same language. ludahai 魯大海 11:58, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

regardless of mutualy inteligibility, they are all descended from a common chinese language and are classified as dialects.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:55, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Common descent is not an allowable scientific criterion for dinstinguishing dialects from languages. Historically, varieties such as Cantonese and Hakka have been called dialects for socio-political reasons and because the concept of a dialect in Chinese is not 100% the same as that in English. Not that English itself is consistent here, in some English speaking countries, "dialect" is used for anything that's not English. Anyway, the Chinese word for a dialect is 方言, a "regional speech". So the concept of dialect in Chinese is based more on the distinction between a regional and an over-regional variety. The popular interpretations of the word dialect in English aside, regionality is not commonly accepted as a scientific criterion and on the whole, only the degree of mutual intelligibility is.
If common ancestry were such a criterion, we would not have French and Italian but only Romance, Russian and Serbian would be Slavonic and Japanese and Korean would be Altaiic... not very practical or scientific.
It's also not true that all authors use the term dialect when referring to Cantonese, Hakka etc. Many Chinese authors writing in Chinese use 方言 as a technical term, and for a variety of reasons they often prefer "dialect" when writing in English. But overall the picture is varied. Using Cantonese as an example K. Tong and G. James in the Colloquial Cantonese (1994) course use the term language (for the above reasons), as does Siu-hing So in A Glossary of Common Cantonese Colloquial Expressions (2002), Ying-Ping Lee in Current Cantonese Colloquialisms (1998), C. Au Scott in Communicate in Cantonese (1994), Kwan Choi Wah in The Right Word in Cantonese (1996) and so on. I actually have to go back to the 50s to find frequent references to Cantonese as a dialect, for example Chan Yeung Kwong Everybody's Cantonese (1947).
Even mainland chinese books today often use 语 "language" rather than 话 (dialect) when talking about Cantonese, for example 杨明新 简明粤英词典 (1999) as opposed to 李榮 廣州方言詞典 (2000) (although the latter arguable deals with the Cantonese dialect of Canton rather than Cantonese overall).
I think the modern scientific usage (at least in English) is definitely in the language camp rather than the dialect camp. Akerbeltz (talk) 10:35, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

ludahai, this talk page is not a forum for promoting reasons on taiwanese independence, like the fact taiwanese is a seperate language. your statement does not belong here.ㄏㄨㄤㄉㄧ (talk) 14:35, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

ㄧ and 一[edit]

The article consistently uses 一 to represent yi (i), but half of my fonts show this character as a vertical stroke ㄧ. I suppose they could be variants intended for vertical and horizontal writing. But according to Unicode 一 (U+4E00) is the Chinese character for "one", different from U+3127. The appearance doesn't matter to me as much as the correct encoding. Should all occurrences of 一 be changed to ㄧ? MJ 11:21, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Vertical Chinese texts use horizontal glyph and horizontal Chinese texts use vertical glyph. However, none of the computer fonts support this kind of variation. Simplified Chinese fonts always give vertical form and traditional Chinese fonts always give horizontal form. so in rare cases when distinction is important, we have to use a horizontal line (I think an en dash is better than hanzi) or a vertical line to substitute it. - Hello World! 18:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Zhuyin experts needed for Templates[edit]

Someone suggested we add Xiao'erjing and Bopomofo into Template:Chinese. The person had the IP I don't know where this person went? Can we get some more expert at Template talk:Chinese on how these can be added into the template? Thanks. Benjwong 03:44, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Automated Translation[edit]

Gymshaw (talk) 00:26, 29 April 2008 (UTC) Software that provides instant Chinese (Traditional or Simplified) to Zhuyin translation can be helpful for people learning Chinese--especially those with roots in Taiwan.

Requested move (2008)[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was Moved to Bopomofo by consensus in the disucussion, please reflect the reason for the name in the article. Keegantalk 06:38, 20 July 2008 (UTC)

ZhuyinBopomofo — Bopomofo is the more common English name for this phonetic alphabet. It is also the name used by international organizations such as ISO. In addition, it is odd to romanize the name using a competing phonetic system. —Voidvector (talk) 08:29, 22 June 2008 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • Oppose (see below) kwami (talk) 09:56, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Oppose but am open-minded pending new evidence. I agree with User:Kwamikagami that using "'Bopomofo' is like saying 'ABCs'" in Chinese but I will admit that the term is more formal in English which is what is relevant here. I'm not too enamoured with the current title either — "zhuyin" seems abbreviated compared with the full "zhuyin fuhao" — but the nominal "official" English name, "Manadarin Phonetic Symbols" is a bit vague. Other sources I've seen are all over the place. (DeFrancis uses "zhuyin zimu," zhuyin's original name and its translation, "Phonetic Alphabet" which is hardly unambiguous.) I'm never impressed with only raw Google counts so if there are quality linguistic sources preferring "bopomofo," please cite them. As for the argument that "it is odd to romanize the name using a competing phonetic system," I can hardly imagine using zhuyin symbols themselves to write the article title. — AjaxSmack 04:37, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Strongly support. The name Bopomofo was supported by the Chinese National Body and the Ideographic Rapporteur Group -- hence the name in Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646. -- Evertype· 09:21, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
  • Support This is what I’ve always heard it called in English. —Wiki Wikardo 10:14, 12 July 2008 (UTC)


Any additional comments:

Usage by international organizations:

You can also do a general Google test, but that's WP:SET. --Voidvector (talk) 08:36, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

  • We're going to have to romanize it with a competing system regardless of which name we choose. I prefer zhuyin. "Bopomofo" is like saying "ABCs", or calling hangul giyeok-nieun. Okay, I know no-one calls hangul that, but still, "bopomofo" sounds like baby talk. It seems a little silly to use that when there's an actual name for it. kwami (talk) 09:56, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
    • In response to the hangul example, I would like to point out the English word "alphabet" is constructed from the pronunciation of the letters alpha and beta. The "baby talk" is a nonissue when you consider most English speakers would struggle when pronouncing "zhuyin". In addition, in terms of prescriptive vs descriptive linguistics, "bomopofo" is the more established name in English, so it is the more descriptive word for this concept, while "zhuyin" is more prescriptive word (since it is dictated from the Chinese translation). --Voidvector (talk) 14:08, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
"Alphabet" is not conceived of as the names of letters, but simply as a name. "Bopomopho", on the other hand, is clearly simply a series of letter names. "Zhuyin" is no harder to pronounced than "bopomofo". kwami (talk) 16:33, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Etymology of alphabet. --Voidvector (talk) 04:55, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Obviously. But that's irrelevant. kwami (talk) 16:22, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Just trying to point out that the word "alphabet" WAS conceived of the names of letters, contrary to what you said. --Voidvector (talk) 16:32, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
No, I said it isn't, not it wasn't. kwami (talk) 16:45, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
quote from that etymology page: "from Gk. alphabetos, from alpha + beta, the first two letters of it" --Voidvector (talk) 16:51, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, yes, obviously. But irrelevant. kwami (talk) 17:14, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Kwami, there's really nothing wrong with the term "Bopomofo". In the world of implementation anyway we all use this term. Anybody who needs to use it (say, on a computer) will find that name. And that name will never go away. Actually, since Bopomofo is used for a number of Chinese languages it seems to me that Zhuyin is too specific. -- Evertype· 09:31, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Usage by linguistic societies, as requested by AjaxSmask:

All the links I have listed are not Google tests, I am using Google to extract word usage information from the respective credible organization's websites. I feel that I would be cherry picking if I had picked only a few links from the Google search to show you. --Voidvector (talk) 05:12, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

A lot of these are listserv postings and the like which is fine for reflecting casual usage but not exactly what I had in mind. Maybe a few cites from those quaint old things made of paper would enlighten too. — AjaxSmack 05:40, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
Those "listserv" entries are recorded emails from the mailing lists of that linguistic website. Those are some of the best examples of words used by linguists to communicate. I am not gonna go to the library for a simple move request, but here's one more usage information I gathered: New York Times --Voidvector (talk) 06:40, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Daniels & Bright mention it only briefly (five lines and a table), and call it the National Phonetic Alphabet. (I agree that's a bad name for us.) They then give Guóyīn Zìmǔ as the Chinese form and follow it with Bōpōmōfō as an alternate. The table is described as Bōpōmōfō, with diacritics. kwami (talk) 07:07, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Since "In everyday speech, zhuyin is known as bopomo or bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ)" (as it says in the article) I'm not sure why this move should be controversial. -- Evertype· 09:36, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

What about the term "bopomofo" also being used for Hanyu Pinyin? kwami (talk) 11:23, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I've never encountered that usage. Pinyin is always the term I have heard for pinyin. And Pinyin Romanized dictionaries are listed in ABC order not in BPMF order. -- Evertype· 13:21, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
It was used to teach kids pinyin when I grew up (in the 80s), cause the consonant order rhymed better. And then, I was taught the Latin alphabet order right after cause had learn it to use the dictionary. --Voidvector (talk) 22:34, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I heard this usage too, which confused me a lot. I thought the person was from Taiwan and was referring to Zhuyin Fuhao but she was from mainland China and was talking about Hanyu Pinyin. I'ts not standard but is used by some people.
I prefer Zhuyin name as well, no problem with zh- initial. IMO, Anglophones are now more trained to utter more or less accurate Chinese words/names, as most Chinese cities, provinces and names are spelled in English using pinyin. --Atitarev (talk) 23:13, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm not convinced by User:Evertype's rationale that "since 'in everyday speech, zhuyin is known as bopomo or bopomofo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ)' (as it says in the article), I'm not sure why this move should be controversial." Flatulence is known as fart and sexual intercourse is known as fucking in everyday speech but it doesn't make for encyclopedic usage. Furthermore, in this case, the implication could be that bopomofo is common in everyday Chinese speech which might have bearing on English usage but does not necessarily determine it.
However, after reviewing a few more sources myself, I found that bopomofo is indeed used in more formal situations in English where the Chinese might use 注音符號 (Zhùyīn fúhào). Therefore, I will drop my opposition to the move. However, I still think zhuyin is a more encyclopedically appropriate term. As one website asks, "What is this bopomofo thing? Bopomofo is the sounding of the first four characters in the Chinese alphabetical system formally known as Zhuyin."[5] [my emphasis].
Here are some intersting web accessible references for each usage:
AjaxSmack 23:59, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
We could move it with a disambiguation warning: this article is about the Chinese phonetic script formally known as zhuyin zimu. For the other Chinese phonetic script sometimes also called bopomofo, see hanyu pinyin.
kwami (talk) 01:52, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
Yeah but it hasn't been known as Zhùyīn zìmǔ for nearly a century. It's been Zhùyīn fúhào since 1930. — AjaxSmack 02:00, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
I am still perplexed over the usage of 注音字母 (zhuyin zimu) and 注音符号 (zhuyin fuhao). Mainland dictionaries tend to use 注音字母 (zhuyin zimu), which according to this article and the Chinese article is the old name. --Voidvector (talk) 03:07, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
The 1930 date is noted by DeFrancis in the following (unreferenced) passage from The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (p. 242):
The symbols were initially called Zhùyīn zìmǔ ("Phonetic Alphabet"); later they were also called Guóyīn zìmǔ ("National Phonetic Alphabet"). The fear that they might be considered an alphabetic system of writing independent of characters led in 1930 to their being renamed Zhùyīn Fúhào ("Phonetic Symbols").
Zhùyīn fúhào is also what's used in Taiwan published dictionaries and generally by Taiwanese when speaing Mandarin. The term zìmǔ ("letters") is reserved for letters of the Latin alphabet, &c. — AjaxSmack 08:42, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
I’ve never heard of bopomofo being used to refer to anything but Zhuyin Fuhao in my life. —Wiki Wikardo 10:14, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


I doubt it is spelled "chu-yin" any longer in govt. sources. kwami (talk) 09:22, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

The official term is "Mandarin Phonetic Symbols (MPS)" and has been for some time. Corroboration viewable online includes the Taiwan/ROC Yearbooks from 2001 to 2006 and the general online information at the official Government Information Office website. — AjaxSmack 17:33, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Who said anything different? I doubt it is spelled "chu-yin" any longer in govt. sources. kwami (talk) 17:50, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Settle down, Beavis. I was agreeing with you. I can't find "chu-yin" in any govt sources either. — AjaxSmack 19:13, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Display problems[edit]

I find that in the table, the three dialect symbols (for v, ng and ny - that is, those that should be encoded in the Unicode bopomofo block as U+312A..U+312C) display incorrectly, as empty rectangles. Similarly for the old characters in the explanations for u: 'ㄨ u, w From 㐅', ancient form of 五 wǔ' and o: 'ㄛ o From the obsolete character ' hē, inhalation, the reverse of 丂 kǎo'. All other characters and Bopomofo symbols on this page display correctly. Have I perhaps set up my CJK display wrongly? Alternatively, is there a systematic problem with the page or the CSS styles used on it? FYI, I'm using Windows XP SP3, and have successfully implemented Chinese IMEs in Microsoft Word 2000. yoyo (talk) 14:55, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Most likely just a font problem. You might want to check into getting a font that covers more of the unicode range, though may be a problem. kwami (talk) 15:36, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Kwami, thanks for the suggestion - could you name a suitable font? And yes, is a problem - I see only a square.
Corrections to my earlier observations -
  1. Symbols for 'V', 'Ng' and 'Gn' (presumably = ny?) given in a table under Chinese dialects and languages other than Standard Mandarin do display correctly. I propose to copy those symbols to update the symbols for 'v', 'ng' and 'ny' in the Origins ... table, if there are no objections.
  2. In the same (dialect) section, all the symbols in the Extended zhuyin table also fail to display correctly, appearing as empty rectangles. Any user, please emend this table if you can.
  3. In the Origin of the letters section, the symbol for 'the apical vowel' (sic - what's that in IPA?) also displays as an empty rectangle. Any user, please emend this symbol if you can.
yoyo (talk) 15:58, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Check out Unicode typefaces. kwami (talk) 16:21, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

"Republic of China of Taiwan"[edit]

I don't know if "Republic of China of Taiwan" at the top of the article is a typo (s/or/and/) or if it intended to say "Republic of China (aka Taiwan)".

Either way, improvement is still needed... e.g. "People's Republic of China and Taiwan", OR "Taiwan (aka Republic of China)" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bobbozzo (talkcontribs) 23:33, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


QUOTE: "Unlike pinyin, the sole purpose for zhuyin in elementary education is to teach Standard Mandarin pronunciation to children."

Absolute rubbish. In the PRC, they teach pinyin to schoolchildren first before they begin to teach more complex characters. I went to school in China. How do you think we cope with learning characters if we do not even know how they sound? We aren't born with that kind of knowledge. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs 11:17, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Agree. Changed the sentence to "Bopomofo remains main phonetic system used for teaching reading and writing in elementary school on Taiwan." Cababunga (talk) 03:19, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Not much relevance...[edit]

Sorry, but I'm trying to learn Mandarin, but my computer can't render v/vo, ny, and ng. Anything I can do? It renders v/vo as ㄪ, ng as ㄫ, and ny as ㄬ. Help! Moocowsrule (talk) 06:18, 9 October 2008 (UTC)moocowsrule

You copied the letters just fine, so your computer isn't the problem. I suspect you just need a better font. But those three letters aren't used in Standard Mandarin anyway. kwami (talk) 07:42, 9 October 2008 (UTC)
I copied the weird symbols that are boxes with letters in them. V/vo reads as 31 2A, ng reas as 31 2B, and ny reads as 31 2C... I read them just fine in a Unicode PDF file which had the Bopomofo characters, but on here my computer can't render them. I have XP Home, with East Asian characters installed, and all the Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji/Hanja/Cangjie, and Hangul read perfectly fine. But these three won't read. And it's annoying... but I guess I'm not going to learn less-Standard Mandarin (is that the non-Standard equivalent of Standard Mandarin???) till way later.
And also some of these characters look a lot like Hiragana or Katakana... like "ㄑ" "q" which looks like "く" which "ku" sounds a bit like "q". And "ㄘ" which looks like "ち" "c" which looks like "Chi". And "ㄙ" "s" which looks like "ム" "mu", which doesn't sound like "s"... And there are a lot more...
Plus "ih" won't render... It renders as "ㄭ" or "31 2D"... But I got the basic idea of what "ih" should look like...Moocowsrule (talk) 06:34, 10 October 2008 (UTC)moocowsrule
ih was added to Unicode only recently, so most current fonts won't support it. Nevertheless, here is a list of all bopomofo symbols in Unicode. --Voidvector (talk) 01:08, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

Gosh, missed the move discussion[edit]

but Bopomofo is a bad name compared to Zhuyin for lack of precision. "Bopomofo" was how I was taught Hanyu pinyin, and it is a widespread colloquial name for the scheme. I can see from the above discussion that I am not alone in this experience. As to those who say "I've never heard of hanyu pinyin being called bomopofo": well, ignorance of existence is not proof of non-existence.

Just my thoughts. Since it has been newly minted, I'll wait a little before proposing a move back. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 23:06, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it does seem that bopomofo just means "ABCs", no matter which script is being used. Not used that way in English, but could still cause confusion. I mildly support moving back to zhuyin, which AFAIK is unambiguous. kwami (talk) 23:36, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Pronunciation Audio File[edit]

Could someone record a speaker recording the bopomofo "alphabet" for WikiCommons? It would be good to have a reference, especially for those who want to learn it.

There are recordings available at under Creative Commons license. I'm not sure how this particular license is compatible with Wikipedia, but the author might be willing to change it just for WikiCommons. --Cababunga (talk) 20:20, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Jhuyin Fuhao[edit]

I noticed that someone recently changed "Zhuyin" to "Jhuyin" in this article with the reason that Jhuyin is the official name in Taiwan. Unless something has changed since the beginning of this year, Hanyu is currently the official romanization system in Taiwan. I'm new to Wikipedia, but I'm going to go ahead and change it back to "Zhuyin", unless someone can find a source for "Jhuyin" being the correct spelling. (talk) 11:30, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

I'm the user above. I just reverted another change back to "Zhuyin". The only reason that the rest of the island of Taiwan uses other forms of pinyin is that Tongyong was the official system of the Republic of China from 2002-2008. Taipei chose not to adopt this system, and thus was one of the only places in the ROC that used Hanyu. Now Hanyu is the ROC's national standard for romanization. The Pinyin article has multiple sources to this effect. Also, there's this article from the government. Bopomofo was created by the ROC, and in my opinion we should use either the international standard for romanizing Chinese characters (which is Hanyu Pinyin) or the official ROC standard (which is also Hanyu Pinyin) to describe matters pertaining to the ROC. Seems like a no-brainer. Dempf (talk) 15:39, 1 December 2009 (UTC)


Why is "ih" on here? San Min Zhu Yi (talk) 23:46, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Alphabet status[edit]

Hi, does anyone has any linguistic articles that backs up the claim the example in the second paragraph in the article? How do we define the phoneme in Chinese? The examples that "an" is not a shortest possible segment, but that's purely by western standards since an "a" (ㄚ) and "n" (ㄋ) both exists. "an" in Chinese makes a single sound. But "a" + "n" the obvious break, will sound completely different, something like "ah-ne". I guess I'm trying to say ㄚ+ㄋ is not the same as ㄢ. I'm not a linguist or anything, so I was just wondering if there was some literature on the claim. Misosoup7 (talk) 02:07, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

I think people are generally opposed to the idea that the nature of languages is determined by the script they are written in. But of course people writing in that script will be guided by its conventions! Should Vietnamese have the phonemes it does only because it switched to the Latin alphabet? If it were still written in hanzi, would the nature of the spoken language be any different? To me at least, ㄢ sounds very much like ㄚㄋ. — kwami (talk) 02:29, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Letters vs. Symbols[edit]

From the first paragraph: Consisting of 37 letters and 4 tone marks,...

Isn't symbols a better term than letters here, to be consistent with the name Zhùyīn Fúhào ("Phonetic Symbols")?

See also: History section, name change from Zhùyīn Zìmǔ ("Phonetic Alphabet") to Zhùyīn Fúhào ("Phonetic Symbols"). Juxtap (talk) 10:09, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Pinyin always yields the same alphabetic spelling[edit]

Does anyone know what this is supposed to mean?: "Unlike bopomofo, the pinyin system always yields the same alphabetic spelling, so it has become more popular in transliterating Chinese characters in English texts." I'm having a lot of trouble trying to make sense of it. It wouldn't make sense in the first place to use zhuyin in transliterating characters in English because English speakers wouldn't have the slightest idea how to read them. Is this line just trying to say that pinyin uses Latin letters, while zhuyin doesn't, or is it something more than that?

I agree that this makes no sense whatsoever, since bopomofo makes no attempt to be a romanisation, and has no relation with any. As an alphabet, it is perfectly consistent within itself, so the statement isn't true. Also, the fact that pinyin is more popular than bopomofo for transliterating into English is sufficiently obvious that the sentence is not relavent to this article.

Remove statement about non-official status[edit]

The MOE regulation in 2009 abolished non Hanyu Pinyin, but didn't abolish zhuyin.

Roadrunner (talk) 06:07, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Initial and Finals[edit]

Analytic syllable (σ) structure: tree diagram comprising several phonologic traditions and theories

The article completely fails to describe how either

  1. initials (ι) and finals (φ) or
  2. initials (ι), medials (µ) and rimes (ρ) or
  3. onsets (ω) and rimes (ρ)

are employed in this system and in which way they correspond to the pinyins. For instance, the 瓶子 (ㄆㄧㄥ́ㄗ̇) píngzi ‘bottle’ example should be either *piéngzi or *pyíngzi according to the mapping tables. — Christoph Päper 07:13, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

The correspondences between these finals in Zhuyin Fuhao and Hanyu Pinyin are actually described in the table "Bopomofo vs. Pinyin" on the page. For instance, "瓶子" would fall under "ㄧㄥ": ying 【ing】 ying 【ing】 ying 【ing】 英 (ㄧㄥ, yīng). I've altered the left-hand column to make those rows more visible.
The heading doesn't say that the table is a mapping table, though, but rather a "comparison", so we have no guarantee that the table's meant to completely detail all the correspondences between the two systems.

As for the phonological analysis with the medials and onsents and rimes and so on; that's not what this article refers to when it refers to "initials" and "finals". The article uses the division into "initials" and "finals" that's common in the context of Chinese phonology. See for instance and the last paragraph of ("the combination of medial and rime is collectively known as the final"). Rōnin (talk) 20:34, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
After your edit, the first table makes more sense. Thanks.
I’ve split the rows which had bracketed alternatives, but I’m not sure I understood (and hence labeled) the difference correctly. I assumed the non-bracketed variant to be used if the character (sequence) is used in isolation and the bracketed variant otherwise.
Actually the diagram reflects the use of “final’ and “rime” as used in the articles you linked to, and it assumes that “onset” is not an alternate name for “initial” but rather contains it (and the medial).
The thing I don’t understand yet completely is medials, which result in the characters the bracketed and non-bracketed transliterations differ in. When are they used? Is it when those syllables occur in isolation as I made the table suggest? — Christoph Päper 10:20, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
The difference between the bracketed transcriptions and the non-bracketed transcriptions is that the latter occur when the syllables are isolated, yes. The initial "y" or "w" probably serves to reduce ambiguity by marking the beginning of a new syllable. For instance, "nà・yàng" ("that way") can be differentiated from "nài・àng". Hanyu Pinyin also uses an apostrophy in some cases, for instance "西安" is transcribed as "Xi'an", to differentiate it from the single syllable "xian".

However, this convention is an artifact of various other transcription system such as Hanyu Pinyin, and not something that separates these specific finals into a category of their own. In fact, several of the other finals can occur in isolation as well, including ㄞ (as in "ㄞˋ", "love"). ㄢ (as in "ㄢ", "peace" and of course "ㄒㄧㄢ", "Xi'an") and ㄦ (as in "ㄦˊㄗ˙", "son"). The bracketed and non-bracketed transcriptions are phonemically speaking equivalent, just as "an" and "'an" are phonemically equivalent, and coming up with a new system for categorizing them would require a good deal of insight into Chinese phonology, and on top of it all also constitute original research. Thus, I have reverted the table to its previous form, in the advent of a paper or article wich provides a better explanation. Rōnin (talk) 11:59, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

By the way, with the initials ㄓ, ㄔ, ㄕ, ㄗ, ㄘ, ㄙ, and ㄖ, the problem is slightly different – As far as I can see, these are the only characters that can both constitute an initial and an entire syllable, but does that make them "initials in isolation", "initials followed by the empty rime", or something else? Determining this on our own would also border on original research.

The bottom line is that the article is targeted at people who are already familiar with the phonemic inventory of Mandarin Chinese, and that making it accessible to a more general audience would take a good deal of expertise. Rōnin (talk) 12:32, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Requested move (2012) I[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: no consensus to move. Favonian (talk) 10:45, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

BopomofoZhuyin – Per WP:COMMONNAME, naturalness, precision, and consistency. The proper name of the subject is "Zhuyin fuhao" while the common name is "zhuyin." "Bopomofo" is slang, and is merely the approximate sound of the first four initials of the Mandarin language, rather than the name of the system as "pinyin" is. This name is therefore ambiguous and not specific to the zhuyin system: as the article states, "bopomofo" could very well mean pinyin instead. Google search shows 1,800,000 for "zhuyin" and 610,000 for "bopomofo". Google Books similarly shows 4,250 for "zhuyin" and 1,380 for "bopomofo". --Jiang (talk) 10:20, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Comment. "Bopomofo" is the name used by both ISO and on the Unicode chart, so I wouldn't call it slang. Google Books is split down the middle. I get 323 (119 deghosted) post-2000 English-language GBook hits for zhuyin phonetic, 133 (73 deghosted) for bopomofo phonetic. Kauffner (talk) 17:20, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
    • I don't know why you would need to add the word "phonetic" to your search. I think common usage and precision here overwhelmingly overrides the conventions used by specialists.--Jiang (talk) 19:30, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
      • Huge, unrealistic result numbers like 1.8 million are overwhelmingly ghost hits. If you look at your GBook results, you will find many books in Chinese. Kauffner (talk) 00:19, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment Googling for "Zhuyin Fuhao" produced about 22,000 hits. Googling for "Zhuying" produced 102,000 hits. Googling for "bopomofo" produced about 1,800,000 hits. Readin (talk) 20:18, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Please link your google searches as they contradict mine.--Jiang (talk) 20:24, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
bopomofo, Zhuyin, Zhuyin fuhao Readin (talk) 20:34, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
I notice that you put quotes around your search and that seems to make a big difference even for a single word. Please fix my ignorance, what do the quotes do? Readin (talk) 20:37, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
The quotes are used to search for the exact phrase - when there is only one word, it does nothing. What I did do that made a big difference is adding "-wikipedia" so that the results would not be skewed by Wikipedia or its mirror sites. [11] --Jiang (talk) 20:50, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
I would have thought that the quotes wouldn't do anything when only one word is used, but it did do something. I got a different number of results searching for "bopomofo" instead of bopomofo. Readin (talk) 21:37, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
There is only a marginal difference. I'm not exactly sure why - but the google count is an estimate, not an actual tally of the results. The real difference is when "-wikipedia" is added.--Jiang (talk) 21:48, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose Per the Google results plus my own experience - I find that when using English far more people understand me when I say "bopomofo" than when I say "Zhuyin". Readin (talk) 20:18, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. "Bopomofo" is clearly the more common name in English. I think a more convincing argument would be that it does not actually mean zhuyin, but can refer to any phonetic script, including pinyin. However, it doesn't have that use in English. — kwami (talk) 20:57, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't see conclusive evidence that "bopomofo" is more common than "zhuyin".--Jiang (talk) 21:27, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • I've never seen or heard it used for anything but Zhuyin fuhao. Readin (talk) 21:34, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
I actually prefer zhuyin myself. But my impression is that bopomofo is more common. I'm not taking sides this time. — kwami (talk) 22:31, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose per comments that the zhuyin hits also include pinyin, and that bopomofo clearly does not mean any type of pinyin (hanyu or tongyu). (talk) 06:38, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Google hits for zhuyin do not include pinyin. Where did you get that?--Jiang (talk) 09:40, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Requested move (2012) II[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was no move. There's no consensus that the proposed title is preferable.Cúchullain t/c 15:47, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

BopomofoZhuyin fuhao – The reasons for moving are threefold: (1) the official name is zhuyin; (2) bopomofo is a name used within specific, limited circumstances to mean zhuyin, e.g. within ISO standards, and not generally; (3) bopomofo can mean the first-encountered phonetic system within any particular community, so it means different things to different people. zhuyin does not. zhuyin means the same thing to everyone, and is not ambiguous.

  • 1. As is clearly explained in the page, the official name of the system is zhuyin fuhao, or zhuyin for short. Even if there is a preference for a non-official name, bopomofo is not a good choice because it is both ambiguous and colloquial.
  • 2. There are many political reasons why the ISO chose to adopt a colloquial name, including the lack of an acceptable Romanisation for zhuyin fuhao at the time, but the same political pressures do not apply to Wikipedia in 2012. If many people call the City of London the City, should the article be placed at the latter title? Of course not, because that name only makes sense in a certain context. Likewise, "bopomofo" as a reference to Zhuyin only makes sense in a limited set of contexts, and should not be the title of this article. Even as a redirect to this page it should be controversial and would need a couple of "seealso" links at the top.
  • 3. Finally, when one of the key reasons for moving is eseentially "bopomofo means two or more things to different people but zhuyin means one thing to all people", the experience of one editor does not disprove that reason. I am specifically referring to User:Readin's anecdotal evidence in the previous discussion. User:Readin is a user from a specific demographic for whom "bopomofo" means Zhuyin, and it is entirely expected that in his or her anecdotal experience "bopomofo" means Zhuyin. However that does not disprove the key issue that "bopomofo" does not mean Zhuyin to other people. The official name, Zhuyin, means Zhuyin to all people.

The original move to the current title was insufficiently consultative and hastily closed, and should not have happened in the first place. The last move-back request was closed with one vote yes and one vote no (plus an anon vote, which I tend to view as less than persuasive in the ordinary course), it was hardly a survey. Please let this discussion run its course for once. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 13:55, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

  • Comment - I do not really care about the "technical" name, I am concerned about what English speaking people, call it. Colloquial names for things are acceptable, and is usually what is going to be looked up, then when they go to the article they read and learn the real name, people who already know about something aren't looking it up to find out what it is.--Education does not equal common sense. 我不在乎 20:10, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Outside of China, most people using the script will be doing so via its Unicode encoding, where the name Bopomofo has been standardized, and, I should point out, standardized with the full support of the Chinese National Standards Body. It is incorrect to suggest that there was a ""lack of acceptable Romanization for zhuyin fuhao"; I remember the adoption of Pinyin as the de-facto romanization for Chinese in the US in 1979. It was in the newspapers. Bopomofo was standardized long after that. So the proposer's second argument is simply false. As to his first argument, the "official name" of the system in Chinese can be whatever the Chinese like. This is the English-language Wikipedia, and Bopomofo has the advantage of actually being pronounceable by English speakers. As to the third point, Zhuyin doesn't mean anything to me. I know the script as Bopomofo. In fact, I have helped to encode several characters in Bopomofo. Leave the article where it is. It has been here for a long time—for eleven years!—and it's been fine right where it is. -- Evertype· 20:53, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
Everytype, this article was at Zhuyin and was moved to bopomofo with insufficient discussion. I understand that you are approaching this from a computer technical standards standpoint, which is why you know it as "bopomofo". My point above was that this name means different things to different people, and it is not a counter argument to say that you know it as one particular thing - that does not disprove that it means something else to someone else, unless you are claiming omnipotence? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:14, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
As for official names in English - Unicode or whatever is not the authority which regulates this system or the arbiter of its English name. Unicode or whatever is the arbiter of the technical computer standard for the script. It does not determine what the script is called, and what it chooses to call the script is merely evidence for what the script might be known as. When that evidence contradicts the actual official documentation for the script, it has less weight than the real world evidence. You must realise there is a wider world out there than the computer technical standards world. Unicode is a reflection of the real world, it does not determine the real world. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:14, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I emphasise, this article has not been at "bopomofo" for 11 years, Evertype, it is disingenuous of you to act as if you forget a move discussion in which you yourself participated. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 14:12, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't remember a move (and you give no diff), but it is true that my reading of the earliest version of this article was mistaken. Nevertheless, I stand by my view: the common name is Bopomofo (564,000 hits on Google) and not the arcane "Zhuyin fuyao" (20,300 hits on Google). -- Evertype· 15:22, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment This same move was requested only three months ago, and failed then. Recommend speedy close. -- Evertype· 20:55, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment' There is reference text in the article that says
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 indicate various phonetic systems. For Chinese speakers who were first introduced to the Zhuyin system, "bopomofo" means zhuyin fuhao. For those who first encountered a different system, such as hanyu pinyin, "bopomofo" usually means that system first encountered.
However no citation is provided for this assertion. I wonder how commonly "bopomofo" is used today for systems other than Zhuyin. Of course of more importance is how often "bopomofo" is used in modern English compared to "Zhuyin". I haven't seen any good citations on that either. PalaceGuard is right that one's personal experience isn't the best criteria for deciding what to call the page, but at the moment we don't have much other criteria to use. Unless something is presented to change my mind I'll still be coming out as "opposed". But it wouldn't take a lot to change my mind.
Everytype said "This is the English-language Wikipedia, and Bopomofo has the advantage of actually being pronounceable by English speakers." He's right about the the English-language usability. A typical English person learning Chinese or even just learning about the system is going to remember "bopomofo" more easily than "zhuyin". I find it difficult to believe that most English people who know of the system know of it by the name "zhuyin" rather than "bopomofo". And again, I recognize that speculation isn't the best criteria, but again I point out we don't have much else to go by. Readin (talk) 21:48, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree with you Readin, that bopomofo is more pronouncible in English, which is probably one of the reasons why the technical computer standards chose that name. However, just because a nickname is easier to pronounce does not necessarily mean that it is suitable for Wikipedia - Everytype seems to be under that misapprehension. "Zhuyin" is not by any means impossible to pronounce in English - "Joo-in" would be a pretty good approxmination. Furthermore, those who are unable to pronounce "Zhuyin" because of lack of familiarity with pinyin orthography are also likely to mispronounce "bopomofo" - as an English speaker, you would think it is something like "bow-pole-mow-foe", wouldn't you, but it isn't, it's "ball-pall-mall-fall". I am not sure Everytype has thought his point through.--PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:08, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I most certainly have thought this through. Four syllables of Pinyin mean nothing to anybody except people who speak Chinese. Most English speakers would pronounce this with [ʒ] as in Zhivago, not [dʒ] as in Joo as you suggest. As an English speaker I pronounce it [boʊpoʊˈmoʊfou] and I am not at all bothered by the fact that it might be [bɔpɔmɔfɔ] in Chinese. Note, please, that I have used proper IPA here, not some naïve transcriptions. I am not under any "misapprehensions". I know what I am talking about. Most people who encounter Bopomofo in an English language context will do so via the International Standard ISO/IEC 10646 or Unicode. The common name for this script in English is Bopomofo. Whatever its name is in Chinese is really unimportant. Moreover, the article has been here for eleven years and failed to attract consensus for moving only three months ago. What are you trying to do? "Zhuyin fuyao" might as well be a menu item in a restaurant for all most English speakers know. This article, and its findability by users of the encyclopaedia, is not improvied by your proposal. -- Evertype· 10:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Evertype, you continue to labour under the misapprehension that (1) the world revolves around technical computer standards, (2) that readers of the English wikipedia would not be able to pronounce "zhuyin" simply because "zh" is not a commonly encountered letter combination in English (at least, that's what I think you are arguing), and that (3) ease of pronunciation is somehow a reason for choosing a title in Wikipedia.
I say misapprehension, because all three viewpoints are misguided. One, the world does not revolve around technical computer standards, most ordinary people encounter these characters when they are studying Chinese, and you may be surprsed to learn that people do so from textbooks or teachers or academic articles, not from technical computer standards. Two, as you admit yourself, you don't know how to pronounce "bopomofo" properly, and if your argument is that ordinary readers of Wikipedia also do not know how to pronounce "zhuyin" properly, then it is a a non-argument because (assuming you are representative of ordinary users), the same applies to "bopomofo". Not that it matters either way because Wikipedia's naming conventions are not about what's easy to pronounce, they are about what the subject is actually called. Whether "zhuyin" sounds like a menu item to you or not is irrelevant. And for users like you who know it as "bopomofo", a redirect or a dab page can resolve any issues you may encounter.
Congratulations on being able to type IPA, you are welcome to continue typing IPA in the remainder of the discussion if you wish.
What am I trying to do? I am trying to move this page to the actual, non-ambiguous name of the subject matter, not a nickname that happens to be favoured by the comptuer technical standards community.
You raise consensus. It surprises me that you are so forgetful. If you just scroll up a little you will find that the article was moved to "bopomofo" only in 2008, after a short discussion in which only four users participated, only two of which were "yes" votes, and you were one of the two "yes" votes, followed shortly by several objections, mine included. It is disingenious for you to now claim that that article was always at "bopomofo". Unless my maths have suddenly failed me, it has not been 11 years since 2008.
You keep repeating that "bopomofo" is the common name. There is no strong evidence for that. Go to your local academic library and you will find many textbooks teaching the Chinese language using zhuyin fuhao. This is the official name, and in the absence of proof that "bopomofo" is an unambiguously common name, the official name should be used. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 14:08, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
No English speaker knows what "Zhuyin fuyao" means—unless they have studied Chinese, which most people don't. Anyone who tries to pronounce it will pronounce the zh as [ʒ] as in Zhivago, not [dʒ] as in Joo as you suggest. So not only will they not recognize the word, but they won't pronounce it correctly (and never mind the tones).
I have made a lot of edits since 2008. Why would I remember any particular move? I remember moving The Mad Hatter to The Hatter.
You're happy to criticize me for favouring the name used in a ubiquitous technical standard. Anyone who encounters Bopomofo on a computer will, if they try to find the name of any of those characters, find "Bopomofo". Not Zhuyin fuyao. I have no idea what Zhuyin Fuyao means. Phonetic something, I guess. I haven't learnt what fu means, or yao, or what they mean together, and I won't remember it one way or another because I'm not learning Chinese. Sure next you'll be wanting to move Chopsticks to Kuàizi, won't you? The Wikipedia is not a Chinese language course. When "Bopomofo" gets half a million hits on Google and "Zhuyin fuyao" only 4% of that, I'm happy to say that Bopomofo is the more common name. -- Evertype· 15:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
No one is asking you to understand what "zhuyin fuhao" means in Chinese. G-hits are notoriously bad indicators of common usage in the real world, and has no value when we have hard sources. Both issues are addressed in more detail below. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 15:59, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
There is no need to go to diffs, see #Requested move (2008) above. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 16:01, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Evertype, if you are willing to step outside of the world of technical computer standards for one minute, please consider a very old piece of evidence that was presented many, many years ago now in the history of this article. The Oxford English Dictionary says this about zhuyin: "zhuyin zimu, n. The national phonetic alphabet of China made up of symbols based on Chinese characters, first adopted in 1918. Also ellipt. as zhuyin." By contrast, it says this about bopomofo: "no search results". The OED is usually regarded as an authoritative arbiter on the meaning of words in English, and it strongly suggests that zhuyin, or zhuyin zimu is an English term that refers to these symbols, but it does not recognise bopomofo as an English term.
If you are willing to accept that evidence raised by both sides to date have not been able to sway the other side into consensus, then I propose to simply follow the OED and nominate "zhuyin zimu" or "zhuyin" as the article title, and offer that solution as a compromise. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 14:22, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I am not, because the Zhuyin zima and Zhuyin are no less foreign terms than Zhuyin fuyao and that is hardly a "compromise". The Chinese National Body supported that name they report directly to the highest authority in China. With regard to the OED, the fact that the 1989 edition didn't have Bopomofo reflects only on the slowness of the editorial policy of the OED (understandable given their scope) but it does not account for 500K hits for "Bopomofo" and 20K hits for "Zhuyin fuyao" or 6K hits for "Zhuyin zimu". I don't know what it is that you ahve against "Bopomofo", but from where I sit there is no consensus to move this article. If' you'd made a case, you wouldn't get push-back. -- Evertype· 15:42, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
No, I searched the current edition of the OED, which contains updates up to the present. You keep on saying you do not understand the meaning of "zhuyin" or "zhuyin fuhao", yet "zhuyin" at least is clearly regarded as an English word by the OED, whereas your favoured "bopomofo" is not.
It is not an argument against the OED to say you do not know the meaning of "zhuyin" in Chinese. First, as you keep on emphasising, and rightly so, the article is in the English Wikipedia and what matters is the meaning of the term in English, not in Chinese, and the OED is more authoritative than you on that matter, and secondly, it really does not matter for the purpose of naming this article whether you, Evertype, understands the word or not. There are many words on Wikipedia which I do not understand, but that does not justify me going around changing them to, for example, what I privately call them. Are you seriously telling me that you believe your Unicode standards are a more authoritative arbiter of the meaning of English words than the OED?(!)?
"Bopomofo" is used to mean "zhuyin/zhuyin zimu/zhuyin fuhao" in two contexts: colloquially by those who learnt Chinese via zhuyin, and with your Unicode technical standards. It is sufficient therefore to mention this usage in the article, as it already does. It is not appropriate for that ambiguous nickname to usurp the title of the article.
You say I don't know what it is that you ahve against "Bopomofo". My reasons are fairly clearly set out above, if you would only care to read it.
You say If' you'd made a case, you wouldn't get push-back. I submit that I clearly have made a case, you have closed your mind to it -- in fact, you have closed your mind to the OED, and that really is no way to behave in a discussion like this. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 15:54, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Oh, finally, your G-hit count is deliberately selective and misleading. The issue of G-hits has been done to death in previous discussions, refer to MR(2012)I above. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 16:07, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
You're not being civil, accusing me of beign deliberately selective and misleading. I googled "Zhuyin fuyao" and "Zhuyin zimu" and "Bopomofo" and wrote down the numbers, 500K, 20K, 6K. That's all. It's clear that you want to have your way. So you accuse me of closing my mind, and when anybody opposes per WP:COMMONNAME you respond because you're not happy with that. Sorry, but it's the most common name. Whether it has been published by the OED yet is hardly relevant, considering 500K hits on Google: whatever you think of them, they are there. -- Evertype· 17:37, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I apologise if I have come across as uncivil, that was not intended. My point about G-hits is this: (i) they were discussed at length in the previous move discussion, and the difference in references to "Zhuyin" vs "Bopomofo" is nowhere near as large as the difference you report. It is disingenuous to search only "Zhuyin fuhao" (note spelling) and "Zhuyin zimu", rather than "zhuyin".
I have nothing against the COMMONNAME policy, my objection is purely because you appear to equate "technical computer standard" with "common name". No evidence has been provided that "Bopomofo" is the more common name in general usage. I fear that I am still not expressing my point to you clearly enough, since you have said repeatedly that you believe people come across these characters via a technical computer standard. Does it help if I emphasise that these symbols are primarily used in education and linguistics to denote Chinese pronunciation? Most people come across them because they study Chinese, not because they study Unicode, even though I appreciate that that may be how you came across them.
Your primary sources of evidence for your assertion about common names seems to be twofold - please correct me if I am wrong here - 1. G-hits, and 2. that "bopomofo" is used in Unicode and ISO standards. My counter-argument as canvassed above is that while both of these are very good sources for evidence of usage in a technical computing context, they are not very good evidence of usage in the English language in the wider world. I raised the OED above, do you not agree that, in the realm of the general meaning of words, the OED is more authoritative as to the meaning of words than the other sources? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 18:00, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
You may have seen my replies to JohnBlackburne below. In the spirit of WP:AGF and all that, could I ask you to cast aside your decided position for a moment and consider doing a few minutes of exploration as to how this page is linked to from other articles on Wikipedia? Take a look at how those articles use "bopomofo" or "zhuyin" (and variants) within the text. I was somewhat surprised at the result myself. Let me know what you find and what you think. Thank you in advance for keeping an open mind. --18:58, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support: bopomofo is ambiguous, and can be compared to the unqualified word, "alphabet" (alpha beta, a b). That sequence of syllables is used to teach Chinese phonics without zhuyin. Most sources that I have read which mention this writing system indicate that Zhuyin fuhao is the formal name, and that bopomofo is a colloquialism, whose acceptance by definition is spotty. The new title would make the page more accessible to readers searching for this information. Shrigley (talk) 01:46, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
There is a difference between "common name" and "colloquialism"; the latter term does not apply particularly well to terminological matters like this. -- Evertype· 08:55, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Everytype, a colloquialism which is enshrined in some sort of computer technical documentation is nevertheless a colloquialism in the general world - and it is a jargon in the computer technical standards world. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:28, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation. Ain't is a colloquialism, as are many metaphors and idioms and most slang. "Bopomofo" is not "informal" or "non-literary", it is just one of the names of this script. You have mis-used the word "colloquialism". -- Evertype· 10:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
"Bopomofo" is a colloquialism in one context and a jargon in another context, as explained above. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 14:12, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Neutral: I withdraw my opposition that I stated in the previous request for rename. I don't have enough information for myself to say I support it, but as I stated earlier my opposition is weak as well. We don't have reliable sources pushing one way or the other. However, if Jiang and PalaceGuard, both of whom have long impressed me with their knowledge of Chinese language and the region even when I disagree with them, and if Shrigley, whom I've seen working on Taiwan related topics recently particularly in relation to the move, all support the move all because they say "bopomofo" is commonly used for something other than Zhuyin , then I'm willing to take their word for it. Readin (talk) 03:41, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose WP:UCN "bopomofo" is the commonly used name for this, and it's even used in English WP:UE per those unicode documents, etc. Further WP:OFFICIALNAME, use the common name instead of the official one. Also "Zhuyin fuhao" has also been used to refer to hanyu pinyin and tongyu pinyin. -- (talk) 05:16, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
Anon user, please show a cite that "zhuyin fuhao" is another name for hanyu pinyin. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:08, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Mild preference for move, but not much in it 243 for Zhuyin fuhao vs. 396 for bopomofo in Google Scholar search. But I suspect that simply shows that computer texts outnumber educational texts in Google Scholar's database. "Zhuyin fuhao" is more accessible internationally and outside IT circles. In ictu oculi (talk) 13:45, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • oppose per WP:COMMONNAME; as well as the above arguments the incoming links are almost all directly to the article. If the official name were more common or commonly used you would expect most, or at least far more, of the links to be via the redirect or redirects. But only four articles link here via the Zhuyin Fuhao redirect.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 16:49, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
JohnBlackburne, most of the incoming links link to this page through the template "Types of writing systems", i.e. a single instance repeated across all the articles which use that template, where, in fact, the link is piped to appear as "Zhùyīn fúhào" on the page. They should either be considered as one link, or a reference to "zhuyin fuhao" rather than "bopomofo" but which is piped rather than redirected, presumably for coding parsimony. Would you be willing to reconsider your vote with that consideration in mind? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 17:19, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I had a look and Template:List of writing systems (which I presume you mean) is included in 193 articles: [12]. There are over 1000 links to this page. So it only accounts for a minority of them.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 17:37, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I do not have the technical know-how to quickly analyse all 1000 links, JohnBlackburne, but just taking a quick sample from the first 50 links, apart from many that are linked as described above via Template:List of writing systems, other examples are links directly to "Zhuyin" from Template:alphabet and many links directly to "Bopomofo" from Template:Chinese. In terms of links in the main body of the text, this occurs relatively rarely whether directly or via redirects. Of the 20-odd links (all randomly from the first 50 results) I did a text search on, looking only at the body text, i.e. not counting subject matter templates, I only found these: Chinese input methods for computers had two links which both appear as "Zhuyin", and no mention of "bopomofo", and Ruby character had three links, twice appearing as "zhuyin" and once as "zhuyin fuhao". ("Bopomofo" is mentioned once as an alternative name for "zhuyin", while "zhuyin" is mentioned a totla of seven times).
This seems to suggest that while usage in templates is varied, and "bopomofo" appears in the very frequently used template:Chinese, in actual body text usage "Zhuyin" seems to occur more frequently.
As an aside, as you may have read above, I still believe the most powerful indicator against "bopomofo" is the OED, which mentions "zhuyin zimu" and "zhuyin" as English language names for the writing system, but does not mention "bopomofo" at all. The OED is not an encyclopaedia, and it would not have included these foreign-derived words unless they were established English words.
Would you be willing to reconsider your vote in light of this? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 18:29, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
No. My reason is still WP:COMMONNAME and I only looked at the stats for confirmation of it, not seeing that anyone else had. Again with only four articles linking to zhuyin fuhao, the suggested move target, there's no indication it is commonly used on WP. And if the OED does not even mention Bopomofo I would dismiss it as a useful guide on this.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 18:51, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I do not follow your argument for dismissing the OED. The OED is a comprehensive dictionary of words in the English language, if a word is not recorded in it, then it is evidence (though not conclusive proof) that it is not recognised as a word in the English dictionary. In a discussino about whether "foreign-derived word A" or "foreign-derived word B" is the common English word for something, it must be eminently relevant if "foreign-derived word A" is included in the OED as an English word and "foreign-derived word B" is not. We have quite a good article at Oxford English Dictionary if that is helpful.
I also do not follow why you are looking only at where the link lands, rather than what the text actually says in the article. If this really is an argument about how words are used, I would have thought words on the page was what mattered.
However I can see you have made up your mind and it will be futile to try to sway you further. For the purpose of preserving a record for future move discussions, could you please elaborate on what basis you have decided that "Bopomofo" is the common name? I ask because I am not convinced of such by the evidence raised. Was it the google hits count, or was it the usage in Unicode/ISO standards, or was it something else? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 19:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
I would like to point out that recognizing that the OED has a certain editorial practice and a doubtless huge backlog is not "dismissing" the OED. Just because they haven't got round to publishing an article on Bopomofo does not mean that it isn't a word, or a valid word. And they'll certainly notice the 500K Google examples when they get round to it. -- Evertype· 19:41, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment I've been asked by the two primary combatants here to chime in. I opposed the move from zhuyin above. To me, saying "bopomofo" is like saying "the ABCs" rather than "the alphabet". It sounds a bit silly. Also, Unicode decisions are not a good reason for a move: there are lots of Unicode names we don't use; they were created for a specific purpose which does not apply in general. However, I can't agree with some of the arguments for move presented here: It doesn't matter if "zhuyin" is official (no more than the Unicode argument), and "bopomofo" is certainly not ambiguous in English, which is the only language that matters for us. Also, my impression is (though this is OR) that it was much more familiar than "zhuyin" before its adoption by Unicode. So, as I see it "zhuyin" is more formal, "bopomofo" more familiar. — kwami (talk) 19:08, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comments Trying to cut through some of the weeds:
    • OED as mentioned by PalaceGuard above is a reliable source for English in general. Of everything presented so far, I believe this would be the only one that would stand up to scrutiny under Wikipedia guidelines.
    • Unicode/ISO usage can be presumed to be supportable by reliable sources, but shows a particular usage rather than general usage.
    • Anecdotal evidence is better for showing that something happens but not for showing something never happens. That is based on my experience, I can verify that people I know use "bopomofo" to mean Zhuyin, but I can't verify that no one uses it for other meanings. It sounds like PalaceGuard grew up in China and used "bopomofo" to mean Pinyin. This establishes two different uses for the term, but does nothing to tell us which is more common.
    • While we've established by anecdote that "bopomofo" may mean different things in Chinese, we don't have any reliable evidence one way or the other for English.
    • Most of the other arguments (including my own) have been speculative in nature. Readin (talk) 19:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
      • Perhaps indeed Zhuyin was more prevalent before the advent of the Bopomofo script in Unicode, but then (this might be OR too) almost nobody in the English-speaking world would have encountered it much. Nowadays everybody has fonts in their operating systems which contains the characters (that's verifiable, if the operating system is anywhere near modern), and if they try to get info on them, they'll get the name "Bopomofo".
      • That said, however, while, yes, OED is a "reliable source" it is not the only one, and we are supposed to use our intelligence. Their latest citation for zhuyin is 1979, more than a decade before Unicode, and we are allowed to take the 500K Google hits into account. In fact the OED's entry (zhuyin zimu) is the one that gets the fewest hits! It's clearly not the most familiar name. -- Evertype· 19:41, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
        • "and we are supposed to use our intelligence" Actually, we're not supposed to use it too much. SeeWP:OR. Can you provide us examples of the other reliable sources? Readin (talk) 20:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Comment. I first encountered bopomofo as the named Unicode range, maybe a decade ago. This article was the first I knew of an alternate name. Ironically, if this were my field of expertise, I'd probably favor "zhuyin fuhao". But if neither term is ambiguous in English, and they mean the same thing in English, I'm not sure it matters. Automatic redirects are wonderful things.--Curtis Clark (talk) 22:55, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose, most common name, not commonly referring to anything else in English. —Kusma (t·c) 13:52, 27 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. I see no evidence (other than anecdotal evidence) that "bopomofo" is the common name, other than the fact that Wikipedia and ISO uses it, but overly pedantic and ambiguous common names are not supported by policy even if they are common. "Bopomofo" is not the name of the system - it is just the first few symbols in its phonetic ordering. Note: "Ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined in reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more frequently used by reliable sources." "When there is no single obvious term that is obviously the most frequently used for the topic, as used by a significant majority of reliable English language sources, editors should reach a consensus as to which title is best by considering the questions indicated above." --Jiang (talk) 21:15, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Bopomofo referring to Pinyin and other systems[edit]

This may seem related to the RM, but I'm asking mostly to determine whether the statements should stay in the article text. The article says "for those who first encountered a different system, such as hanyu pinyin, "bopomofo" usually means that system first encountered" and "the same sequence (bopomofo) is used by other speakers of Chinese to refer to other phonetic systems. For example, it is a colloquial name for Hanyu pinyin in mainland China".

I know from asking older people that bopomofo is indeed used to refer to Zhuyin Fuhao in their generation, but I find it unlikely that it'd also be used to refer to Pinyin in China, since the symbols in Pinyin intrinsically have pronunciations (from English) already. So can we get a source for these claims (or alternatively, someone from China who can confirm that it is indeed the case)? Thanks. wctaiwan (talk) 04:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I can only provide anecdotal support at this point but I can confirm anecdotally through my schooling in China that pinyin is indeed first introduced to students as "bopomofo", since those are the first four syllables in the list of pinyin syllables. Pinyin is not taught in the sequence "a, b, c, d", but in the sequence "b(o), p(o), m(o), f(o), d(e), t(e), n(e), l(e), g(e), k(e)..." etc. Hence why they are introduced as the "bopomofo", somewhat analogously to how the English alphabet might be referred to as the "ABCs".
(As an aside, while many people call pinyin characters by their equivalent English names because of increased familiarity with English, the pinyin characters actually have a different set of official names, which are closer to their Latin/French pronunciations than English ones.) --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:26, 25 July 2012 (UTC)


Okay seriously, who changed Zhuyin to this? It's true Bopomofo could be alternatively called Zhuyin. But it should not replace the name of this title. I looked up, the "concensus" for the move actually consists of only a few "agrees". I can't believe the administrator would move such an important page into a incorrect name over just a few invalid "opinions"

So here are the reasons why it should not be called Bopomofo:

1. As the above says, Bopomofo could also refer to Pinyin. By saying Zhuyin = Pinyin is a totally inaccurate. That actually also explains why if you do a google search you get more for Bopomofo not Zhuyin.

2. Bopomofo is not the official name. Since I was a Taiwanese student, the textbooks, dictionaries or national exams refer it as Zhuyin Fuhao not Bopomofo. Bopomofo is like a slang. So if you don't understand this, think of ABC as alphabets. The official name for it is "Latin Alphabets", you don't call it as "ABCD".

So same as Zhuyin, you call it "Zhuyin Fuhao" not "Bopomofo" just like how you should not call "Latin Alphabets" as "ABCD".

3. Goggle search produce more Bopomofo results not Zhuyin? Again, Bopomofo could refer to Pinyin and we all know how many people there are in China that use Pinyin system. This is not an accurate indicator. If you just type in "ABC" rather than "Lain Alphabets" I bet you get more searches from "ABC". What kind of logic is this?

Someone has to change this back. This is such a joke.Jjj84206 (talk) 13:31, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

This has been discussed many times before and each time the decision has been to use the current name. Consensus can change, and editors can be are often are persuaded by good arguments and evidence, so there is nothing to stop you starting another requested move discussion. But you should first review the previous discussions to see if your points have already been considered, as if you just make the same arguments again without new evidence it it likely the move request will fail.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 14:08, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I did, and as I said the opposing opinions are not valid and I addressed why it's invalid with my 3 points. If these 3 points have already been addressed but ignored, that is unfortunate and there's no point to start a request then. I'm just surprised that wikipedia would move a page through just a few flawed opinions.Jjj84206 (talk) 18:55, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
The issue is that there is a group of very vocal users who are approaching the issue from their computer-centric perspective, in which they value the "official" name used by computer standard-setting organisations above actual usage in the real world. For those of us who oppose that view on the basis of real world usage, there seems to be no way out because the voting is a game of numbers - if your opponents cannot see the real world arguments because they do not value the real world, then tough luck.
I believe the tide of time is on our side, because Wikipedia users will over time become composed more of normal people than computer specialists, so over time the argument that real world usage trumps computer standards should become more convincing. In the mean time the only thing we can do is ensure that the article's content is accurate. Wikipedia, afterall, is meant to be an encyclopaedia about the real world, not just about computers.
Or, we could just petition the ISO to change the ridiculous name they have decided to use! --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 16:24, 2 November 2014 (UTC)


Remember that we should not include the mess of transcriptions and translations in the lead since we already have all of them available to the curious in the {{Chinese}} infobox. See WP:MOS-ZH and take it up there if you strongly disagree with the policy.

Also, there's apparently disagreement with where this page should be located. I'm not on one side or the other (I see Bopomofo and Zhuyin both used and can let someone else figure out which is the overall ENGLISH COMMONNAME) but we should start the lead sentence with whichever is being used. — LlywelynII 02:53, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

One (zhuyin fuhao) is the official name, the other (Bopomofo) is a colloquial name. The article is at the latter because a view has been taken that the latter is the "common name", but (I think) it is not disputed that the former is the official name. Accordingly, it makes sense to address both in the lead like other articles that deal with things with both an official and a different common name. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 16:30, 2 November 2014 (UTC)


The spelling has gotten inconsistent. Per WP:ENGVAR and this edit, the usage for this page was established as American English. It should kindly be maintained pending a new consensus to the contrary. — LlywelynII 04:09, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Article currently refutes its own claim of 1:1 mapping between Pinyin and Zhuyin/Bopomofo[edit]

In the Comparison section this claim is made:

Zhuyin and pinyin are based on the same Mandarin pronunciations, hence there is a 1-to-1 correspondence between the two systems. In the table below, the 'Zhuyin' and 'pinyin' columns show equivalency.
(Emphasis added)

Then in the second table below that, under the heading Vowels u, y there is a column that illustrates clearly the very opposite of the claim:

Two sounds are given in IPA as "uɤŋ" and "ʊŋ". Each has a 1:1 mapping with pinyin in "weng" and "ong". But then they both share a single zhuyin/bopomofo 2:1 mapping to "ㄨㄥ".

How should we deal with this internal inconsistency? — Hippietrail (talk) 08:47, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

It is pinyin "weng" if it is at the beginning of a syllable, and "ong" if there is an initial consonant. The correspondence is 1-1 if you consider complete syllables. Standalone ㄨㄥ is always "weng". —Kusma (t·c) 11:41, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes I eventually reached the same conclusion. The wording should be amended to say this as the syllable-based correspondence is not intuitive to non-Chinese speakers and the claim or the table just looks wrong on the face of it. — Hippietrail (talk) 15:14, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe a footnote after 'show equivalency' that says something about weng and -ong could do the trick, but I don't have a perfect suggestion how to do it. —Kusma (t·c) 17:09, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Old books[edit]

Frederick William Baller called Bopomofo as "National Script Symbols" in his coursebook on Mandarin.

An Idiom a Lesson: A Short Course in Elementary Chinese By Frederick William Baller

Kuoyü and Phonetic Bible

Rajmaan (talk) 16:48, 31 May 2014 (UTC)


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.

That's biased. The author was clearly against the "communist" Pinyin. Why would anyone use vertical Pinyin (Latin letters) in a text? If you have a vertical Chinese text you could still put the Pinyin above the characters. You don't need to put it next to them. Yes, if you really want the transliteration next to the characters, Zhuyin looks better, but that doesn't mean that vertical text also requires vertical transliteration. -- (talk) 17:56, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

Agreed - makes no sense. The proper way to print pinyin in vertical text is to print it sideways, the same way that Roman alphabet text is usually printed in such contexts. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 16:33, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Etymology of ㄘ[edit]

In the etymology section the origin of is explained as:

  • "Variant of , dialectically ciī. Compare semi-cursive form Qi1 seven semicursive.png and seal-script Qi1 seven seal.png."

Now instead of using a graphic for a semi-cursive form I would prefer using the non-cursive character 𠀁 (cf. the corresponding entry in the Unihan database where it is defined as "the original form for "). Any objections? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 18:20, 22 October 2016 (UTC)

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Etymology of ㄊ[edit]

The bopomofo character ㄊ is used to spell the sound /tʰ/. The page here says:

From 𠫓 tū, upside-down form of (Shuowen Seal Radical 528.svg and Shuowen Seal Radical 525.svg in seal script)

Meanwhile, Wiktionary's entry says:

Derived from 𠫓, an ancient form of (Mandarin: ).

The Wikipedia derivation is purportedly from the Wenlin Software for learning Chinese. However, the phonetic basis for this derivation seems shaky at best. Meanwhile, although the Wiktionary entry currently has no references (i.e. cites), the Chinese Wikipedia article for ㄊ seems to corroborate Wiktionary's information more than the English Wikipedia's.

Does anyone have any further information about the etymology of this ㄊ glyph? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │Tala við mig 22:39, 20 January 2017 (UTC)

They're not conflicting, but Wiktionary's explanation makes it clearer. The glyph 𠫓, according to Shuowen, originates as the upside down form of 子. That does not mean 𠫓 is etymologically related to 子. Justinrleung (talk) 23:18, 20 January 2017 (UTC)