Taiwanese kana () is a katakana-based writing system that was used to write Taiwanese Hokkien (commonly called "Taiwanese") when the Geography of Taiwan, island of Taiwan was Taiwan under Japanese rule, under Japanese rule. It functioned as a phonetic guide to hanzi, much like furigana in Japanese language, Japanese or Bopomofo, Zhuyin fuhao in Chinese language, Chinese. There were similar systems for other languages in Taiwan as well, including Hakka Chinese, Hakka and Formosan languages. The system was imposed by Japan at the time and used in a few dictionaries, as well as textbooks. The Taiwanese-Japanese Dictionary, published in 1931–32, is an example. It uses various signs and diacritics to identify sounds that do not exist in Japanese. The system is chiefly based on the Amoy dialect of Hokkien. Through the system, the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan aimed to help Taiwanese people learn the Japanese language, as well as help Japanese people learn the Taiwanese language. Linguistically speaking, however, the syllabary system was cumbersome for a language that has phonology far more complicated than Japanese. After Japanese administration ended, the system soon became obsolete. Now, only a few scholars, such as those who study the aforementioned dictionary, learn Taiwanese kana. The system has undergone some modification over time. This article is mainly about the last edition, used from roughly 1931.

Basic rules

Mapped sounds are mostly similar to katakana in Japanese, with the kana , , , , , and not used. Each syllable is written with two or three kana (with a few exceptions). Notable differences include:


* There are six vowels in Taiwanese: , , , , , . Note that the pronunciations of and are different from Japanese. * The vowel is pronounced in the diphthongs and , also their extensions such as , . In some dialects may be pronounced or . * In syllables with a single vowel, the kana for the vowel is repeated, like the long vowels in Japanese. For example, , , , . * The small kana , , , , , are defined as short vowels. They are used to represent the second vowel in the middle of a syllable, or a final glottal stop. For example, , for , . * There are two optional vowel kana for Choâⁿ-chiu accent (Quanzhou dialect): and . For example, , , .


* is pronounced , not as in Japanese. * There are five overlined kana to distinguish and /. , , , , ''or'' . : * The Aspiration (phonetics), aspirated consonants , , , / are represented by adding an underdot to the kana. For example, for . * Final nasal stop, nasal consonants are written as , , . Note that , are pronounced , when they are used as initials. For example, , for . * The syllabic consonant is spelt (u+), for example [kŋ̍]. Note that without a preceding vowel is written as a single , not or . * The syllabic consonant is spelt (u+), for example . Note that without a preceding vowel is written as a single , not or . * Initial is spelt as with a nasal tone sign. For example, , . * Final plosives (which have no audible release) are , , , similar to the kana used in Ainu language, Ainu. * Final glottal stops are represented by the short-vowel small kana (, , , , , ) at the end. For example, , .

Tone signs

There are different Tone (linguistics), tone signs for normal vowels and nasal vowels. : * When a text is Horizontal and vertical writing in East Asian scripts, written vertically, these signs are written on the right side of letters. Taiwanese kana is only attested in vertical orientation, so it is unknown where the signs would be placed if it were written horizontally. * Initial consonants , , are always written with nasal vowel tone signs, whereas , , are always with normal vowels. Note that and share the same initial kana.

Taiwanese kana chart

Rime chart

Syllable chart

# Tone signs are always needed for a syllable. # always takes normal vowel tone signs; , , always take nasal vowel tone signs. # Some spellings are not clear. 仔(á) was sometimes written as rather than . 的(ê) was sometimes written as rather than . # is spelt with , such as in , , , , and so on.


Unicode support

Amongst Computer software, software/Character encoding, encodings, Mojikyo fully supports the system. Unicode has been able to represent small ku () and small pu () Katakana Phonetic Extensions, since Unicode 3.2, small katakana wo (kana), wo () Small Kana Extension, since Unicode 12.0, and tone signs Kana Extended-B, since Unicode 14.0 (2021). It also requires the use of the Overline, combining overline and Dot (diacritic)#Underdot, combining dot below with kana to represent overlined and underdotted kana (like so: ). Font support for these small kana and for sensible rendering of these uncommon combining sequences is in practice limited; overlines and less well-supported small kana are simulated in the tables below using markup.


Further reading

* ** * ** * * {{cite thesis , type=Master's thesis, author=Chun-Hui Chen , date=June 2002 , script-title=zh:《訂正臺灣十五音字母詳解》 音系研究 , trans-title=Phonetic study on ''The revised guide of 15 Taiwanese letters'' , publisher=National Sun Yat-sen University , url=http://etd.lib.nsysu.edu.tw/ETD-db/ETD-search/getfile?URN=etd-0730102-160424&filename=etd-0730102-160424.pdf , language=zh *Lîm, Chùn-io̍k. (2008)
Taiwan under Japanese rule Kana Transcription of Chinese Hokkien writing system