taiwanchurch.org -- Phonetic Script for Taiwanese (Hokkien/Minnan)
NOTE: In addition to the most widespread romanization, that of the
Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, I have developed a new script that
more accurately captures the
relation between different phonetic sounds. It is based on one created
by the Oxford philologist and writer, J.R.R.Tolkien, though I've modified
some things, particularly vowel sounds.
My philosophy on Romanizations: They are good for rendering names into English but I think it is really bad as far as regular usage. The Pinyin of China for Mandarin does not match up with the common English phonetic representation of letters and so Chinese-speakers trying to learn English who were first taught Pinyin get confused, and English-speakers learning Mandarin get confused. It slows the whole process down. As you peruse the Taiwanese Romanization table below, I think you will see what I mean. Things are not always as they seem.
In contrast, in Taiwan for Mandarin they teach a distinct phonetic script called "BoPoMoFo" (from the first four letters), also called "ChuYinFuHow" from the Mandarin name of the system. It takes a little to learn, but then once you know it, you can completely accurately represent the sounds with no cross-language confusion. Taiwanese does not have such a system, so I have developed one. I did not use a modified "BoPoMoFo" for the same reason, but chose a script which is unique, and also very well represents relations between different phonetic sounds.
- Joel Linton, Jan. 1, 2004
For an example of how the script looks, here is a calligraphy page using the Script with Chinese character glosses. It is from the Taiwanese Bible: Colossians 1:13-14. [the image uses 400K of memory]
PHONETIC TABLES for TAIWANESE
Romanization: "h" added to the consonant means aspiration.
Sound: When two consonants together, the capitalized one is stronger sound.
In addition to the consonant/vowels below, above the vowel is words is written one of eight tones. See the next table for that.
|PCT Romanization||Sound||New Script|
|s||"s" or "sh"|
|ch + (a/e/o/u)||"dz"|
|chh + (a/e/o/u)||"ts"|
|i||long e = "ee"|
|o||"soft o" almost a shwa|
|o + .||"guttural o"|
|u||"u" = "oo"|
|^n or ^*||"nasalize vowel"|
|and so on|
TONES There are a total of eight tones in Taiwanese.. if you count the neutral tone. Tone number 2 and number 6 are so similar that usually Tone Number 6 is left out. So the standard numbering is like this:
|Tone Number||Description||PCT Romanization Symbol||New Script|
|1||high level pitch||no symbol (default)||no symbol|
|2||high to middle falling||/|
|3||mid to low falling||\|
|4||glottal stop - descending||no symbol, words ending in (h/k/p/t)||-///|
|5||mid fall then up||^|
|7||mid level pitch||-|
|8||glottal stop - ascending||' + h/k/p/t ending|
|zero tone||extremely short sound||^o||^o|
One more rule about Tones:
When words are combined in a sentence, the last word of a phrase (or wherever you pause) is pronounced with the original tone. The tones of the words before are changed in a consistent manner.
1 changes to 7
For typing emails without a speciallized font, use the PCT romanization.
Type the vowels and consonants first. Then add any vowel markings...
Add a period immediatly after the o vowel "o." to show a glottal "o"
Here is an example from the Taiwanese Bible. Can you read it?
More information on Taiwanese:
back to taiwanchurch.org