Bopomofo called Zhuyin or Mandarin Phonetic Symbols, is the major Chinese transliteration system for Mandarin Chinese and other related languages and dialects, nowadays most used in Taiwanese Mandarin. It is used to transcribe other varieties of Chinese other varieties of Standard Chinese and related Mandarin dialects, as well as Taiwanese Hokkien. Zhuyin Fuhao and Zhuyin are traditional terms, whereas Bopomofo is the colloquial term used by the ISO and Unicode. Consisting of 37 characters and four tone marks, it transcribes all possible sounds in Mandarin. Zhuyin was introduced in China by the Republican Government in the 1910s and used alongside the Wade–Giles system, which used a modified Latin alphabet; the Wade system was replaced by Hanyu Pinyin in 1958 by the Government of the People's Republic of China, at the International Organization for Standardization in 1982. Bopomofo is an official transliteration system in Taiwan, being used in Guoyu Jianbian Cidian, Guoyu Chongbian Cidian and other documents.
It is used as the main electronic input method for Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. Taiwan adopted Hanyu Pinyin as one of the official romanization systems for Mandarin Chinese in 2009, but the system is not used in electronic input. To the way that the word "alphabet" is derived from the names of the first two letters of the alphabet, the name "Bopomofo" is derived from the first four syllables in the conventional ordering of available syllables in Mandarin Chinese; the four Bopomofo characters that correspond to these syllables are placed first in a list of these characters. The same sequence is sometimes used by other speakers of Chinese to refer to other phonetic systems; the original formal name of the system was 国音字母. It was renamed 注音符号. In official documents, Zhuyin is called "Mandarin Phonetic Symbols I", abbreviated as "MPS I". In English translations, the system is also called either Chu-in or the Mandarin Phonetic Symbols. A romanized phonetic system was released in 1984 as Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II.
The Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation, led by Wu Zhihui from 1912 to 1913, created a system called Zhuyin Zimu, based on Zhang Binglin's shorthand. A draft was released on July 11, 1913, by the Republic of China National Ministry of Education, but it was not proclaimed until November 23, 1928, it was renamed first Guoyin Zimu and in April 1930, Zhuyin Fuhao. The last renaming addressed fears that the alphabetic system might independently replace Chinese characters. Bopomofo is the predominant phonetic system in teaching reading and writing in elementary school in Taiwan, it is the most popular way to enter Chinese characters into computers and smartphones and to look up characters in a dictionary. In elementary school in the lower years, Chinese characters in textbooks are annotated with Bopomofo as ruby characters as an aid to learning. Additionally, one children's newspaper in Taiwan, the Mandarin Daily News, annotates all articles with Zhuyin ruby characters. In teaching Mandarin, Taiwan institutions and some overseas communities such as Filipino Chinese use Bopomofo.
Bopomofo is shown in a secondary position to Hanyu Pinyin in all editions of Xiandai Hanyu Cidian from the 1960 edition to present 2016 edition. The Zhuyin characters were created by Zhang Binglin, taken from "regularized" forms of ancient Chinese characters, the modern readings of which contain the sound that each letter represents; the consonants are listed in order of place of articulation, from the front of the mouth to the back, /b/, /p/, /m/, /f/, /d/, /t/, /n/, /l/ etc. Zhuyin is written in the same stroke order rule as Chinese characters. Note that ㄖ is written with three strokes, unlike the character from which it is derived, which has four strokes. ㄧ can be written as a horizontal line. Traditionally, it should be written as a horizontal line in vertical writing, a vertical line in horizontal writing; the Republic of China exclusively uses horizontal writing, so the vertical form has become the standard form there. Language education in Taiwan uses vertical writing, so most people learn it as a horizontal line, use a horizontal form in horizontal writing.
In 2008, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education decided that the primary form should always be the horizontal form, but that the vertical form is accepted alternative. Unicode 8.0.0 published an errata in 2014 that updates the representative glyph to be the horizontal form. Computer fonts may only display one form or the other, or may be able to display both if the font is aware of changes needed for vertical writing; as shown in the following table, tone marks for the second and fourth tones are shared between bopomofo and pinyin. In bopomofo, the first tone mark is omitted but can be included while a dot above indicates the fifth tone. In pinyin, a macron indicates the first tone and the lack of a marker indicates the fifth tone. 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. Zhuyin, when used in conjunction with Chinese characters, are placed to the right of the Chinese character vertically or to the top of the Chinese character in a horizontal
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