Pha̍k-fa-sṳ (白話字) is an orthography similar to Pe̍h-ōe-jī and used to write Hakka, a Chinese language. It was invented by the Presbyterian church in the 19th century. The Hakka New Testament published in 1924 is written in this system.

Writing system

Pha̍k-fa-sṳ uses a modified Latin alphabet (an additional trema ṳ for the close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/) and some diacritics for tones. A single hyphen is added to indicate a compound.


Shortly after the missionaries of the Basel Missionary Society, Reverend Theodore Hamberg and Rudolf Lechler arrived in China in 1847, Hamberg and his colleagues began compiling the Hakka to English to Hakka to German dictionaries. Lechler was initially allocated the evangelizing work amongst the Shantou population, but because of opposition from the local authorities there, the Shantou mission was abandoned and he joined Hamberg in the mission work amongst the Hakka in 1852. After Hamberg died unexpectedly in 1854, Lechler continued with the dictionary work together with fellow missionary colleagues for over fifty years. During this time, Reverend Charles Piton also made several revisions to the dictionary.[1]

The first publication of Romanized Hakka in Pha̍k-fa-sṳ was done by Donald MacIver [2] in 1905 at Shantou titled "A Chinese-English Dictionary: Hakka Dialect as Spoken in Guangdong Province" and he noted that some of the content was based on the dictionaries compiled by the previous Basel missionaries. However the basel missionaries had been using the Lepsius Romanization system which was different from Pha̍k-fa-sṳ.[3]

Current system


Pha̍k-fa-sṳ Extended bopomofo IPA Examples
p p pak-kûng 伯公
ph pha̍k-fa 白話
t t tú-sṳ́ 肚笥
th thai-ngìn 大人
k k/c kâ-yèn 家園
kh kʰ/cʰ khiung-ha 共下
ch ㄗ/ㄐ ts cho-tet 做得
chh ㄘ/ㄑ tsʰ chhâ-é 車仔
l l lî-mà 鯉嬤
m m Mî-koet 美國
n n nài-sâ 泥沙
ng ŋ/ɲ ngiù-ngiuk 牛肉
s ㄙ/ㄒ s se-ngìn 細人
f f fî-kî 飛機
v ʋ vùn-sṳ 文字
h h/ç heu-sâng 後生


Pha̍k-fa-sṳ Extended bopomofo IPA Examples
y j yá-têu 迓兜


Pha̍k-fa-sṳ Extended bopomofo IPA
a a
i i
u u
e e
o o
er ɤ/ə

Tone markings

Pha̍k-fa-sṳ Diacritic Chinese tone name Pitch (Sixian) Pitch (Hailu) Examples
â circumflex yinping (dark even) 24 42 fôn 歡
á acute yinshang (dark rising) 31 14 hí 喜
a none yinqu (dark departing) 55 33 mien 面
ap none yinru (dark entering) 21 4 chuk 粥
à grave yangping (light even) 11 44 thèu 頭
á acute yangshang (light rising)
(merged with yinshang)
31 14 hí 喜
(å) ring yangqu (light departing) -- 33 thåi 大
a̍k vertical line above yangru (light entering) 5 2 sṳ̍t 食
  • All words are written in their original tones instead of tones with tone sandhi.

See also


  1. ^ An Insight into the Composition of the Hakka-English Dictionary[permanent dead link] (《客英大辭典》海陸成份初探)
  2. ^ Donald MacIver (1852-1910) The Chinese name he adopted was 紀多納
  3. ^ A Hakka index to the Chinese-English dictionary

External links