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The untold spy story of WWI

In 1910 a proposed Alliance between Germany and France (See New York Times Article ) worried Britain so they sent someone to 'sniff around'.

The story is a personal journey of discovery set in the vibrant energy that is Zanzibar. Susan finds herself in the palace of the great Sultan of Zanzibar as private tutor to his children. She immerses herself in the heady experiences of that rich island. From making friends with her personal servant, Subira, to falling in love with Asim, a senior member of the Sultan's court. Susan delights in the discovery of Zanzibar and the discovery of herself. The only shadow being that she was recruited by British Military Intelligence as a spy. That compromises her love for Asim and will eventually cut the silken thread that is her journey into the exotic.

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The Lion Awakes - ARCHIVES
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Zhuyin fuhao / Bopomofo (注音符號/ㄅㄆㄇㄈ)



Zhuyin fuhao is a phonetic script used in dictionaries, children's books, text books for people learning Chinese and in some newspapers and magazines to show the pronunciation of the characters. It is also used to show the Taiwanese pronunciation of characters and to write Taiwanese words for which no characters exist.

It was created in China between 1912 and 1913 by the Commission on the Unification of Pronunciation (讀音統一會), but was abandoned in favour of Hanyu Pinyin after 1949, and has been used in Taiwan since then.

Initially is was called 注音字母 (zhùyīn zìmŭ - "sound anotating letters") or 國音字母 (gúoyīn zìmŭ - "national phonetic letters") and it was first proposed as the national standard for transcribing Mandarin Chinese at a government-sponsored conference in 1913 and officially adopted as such in 1928. It was renamed 注音符號 (zhùyīn fúhào - "phonetic symbols") in 1930, and is popularly known as ㄅㄆㄇㄈ (bopomofo) after the names of the first 4 symbols.

The Zhuyin symbols were developed from Chinese characters and use parts of characters that have the relevant pronunciation in Mandarin. For example, ㄅ (archaic variant of 包) comes from 勹, part of 包 (bāo). Many of the Zhuyin symbols are modelled on obsolete or cursive characters.

Listen to the kid, he knows what he is doing


Learning Chinese – Pinyin or Zhuyin?

When you’re learning Chinese in school or university, you will most likely first learn some form of Pinyin for a period of time before progressing on to learning and reading the Chinese characters themselves. While learning a phonetic alphabet is an essential part of learning Chinese, you do have a choice about which phonetic alphabet you learn, and the choice you make will affect your pronunciation, reading ability, and how fast you learn.

You’re probably wondering how the choice of phonetic alphabet could have such a big influence on the learning process, after all, it’s all Chinese in the end, isn’t it?

While Pinyin might be easier for westerners to grasp from the outset, the use of the roman alphabet to represent the Chinese sounds may have an adverse effect on pronunciation – shouldn’t a new language with unique aspects of pronunciation warrant a completely new phonetic alphabet that allows the learner to detach themselves from the pronunciation of their mother tongue?

That’s were Zhuyin comes in. Zhuyin, or BoPoMoFo, is a Chinese phonetic alphabet that was used in mainland China until being replaced by Pinyin, and that is in widespread use in Taiwan.

Apart from providing a new system of pronunciation that enables you to complete remove yourself from any influence of English pronunciation, Zhuyin also has great benefits when reading Chinese. Learners of Chinese will know this all too well – that when you look at a poster or newspaper that has both English and Chinese, your eyes are automatically drawn to the English. Naturally, this problem also occurs when reading Pinyin accompanied Chinese too, and is amplified by the Pinyin being on a separate line than the Chinese.


Consider the following text

When learning Chinese and reading this text, the reader is forced to look away from the Chinese to read the Pinyin, subsequently overlooking the Chinese

When reading vocabulary or terminology lists, as the Pinyin is even further away from the Chinese, the effect is more pronounced

Again, resulting in the Chinese being ignored or overlooked unless the read specifically diverts their attention to it


Zhuyin, on the other hand, is tucked in next to the character, almost becoming part of the character. It is nearly impossible to read the Zhuyin without being exposed to the Chinese character. The result is that when reading Chinese, the reader of Zhuyin receives increased exposure and reinforcement of the Chinese characters, at the same time speeding up retention.

Obviously the main set back up Zhuyin is that the learner must first memorise all of the characters that represent the Zhuyin alphabet. This process usually takes a couple of weeks, but as seen above, the long term benefits far outweigh this temporary setback.

Another thing to consider is that Pinyin based learning materials are far more widely available than Zhuyin based materials. Meaning that you are more likely to find something that interests you in Pinyin, than in Zhuyin. Although, if you are willing to use learning materials that aren’t specifically targeted at foreign learners, then you can still find many books available that feature Zhuyin pronunciation. For example, the except below is taken from a book targeted at Taiwanese secondary/high school children, but if you can read Zhuyin then you can read this book too


Ultimately, the choice of whether to learn Pinyin or Zhuyin, especially if you are learning in school, may not be yours. Added to the fact that Zhuyin learning materials aren’t as widespread in the west as Pinyin materials, it might not be as easy to get a Zhuyin-based start in Chinese. But even if you’ve been learning Chinese for a long time, it’s still worth your while learning Zhuyin, if not only to increase the variety of learning materials available to you, and get a non-mainland China perspective on things.



Origin of zhuyin symbols
Zhuyin Origin IPA* Pinyin WG** Example
From 勹, the ancient form and current top portion of 包 bāo p b p 八 (ㄅㄚ, bā)
From 攵, the combining form of 攴 p p' 杷 (ㄆㄚˊ, pá)
From 冂, the archaic character and current radical 冖 m m m 馬 (ㄇㄚˇ, mǎ)
From 匚 fāng f f f 法 (ㄈㄚˇ, fǎ)
From the archaic form of 刀 dāo. Compare the bamboo form Dao1 knife bamboo graph.png. t d t 地 (ㄉㄧˋ, dì)
From the upside-down 子 seen at the top of 充 t t' 提 (ㄊㄧˊ, tí)
From Nai3 chu silk form.png/𠄎, ancient form of 乃 nǎi n n n 你 (ㄋㄧˇ, nǐ)
From the archaic form of 力 l l l 利 (ㄌㄧˋ, lì)
From the obsolete character 巜 guì/kuài" 'river' k g k 告 (ㄍㄠˋ, gào)
From the archaic character 丂 kǎo k k' 考 (ㄎㄠˇ, kǎo)
From the archaic character and current radical 厂 hàn x h h 好 (ㄏㄠˇ, hǎo)
From the archaic character 丩 jiū ʨ j ch 叫 (ㄐㄧㄠˋ, jiào)
From the archaic character ㄑ quǎn, graphic root of the character 巛 chuān (modern 川) ʨʰ q ch' 巧 (ㄑㄧㄠˇ, qiǎo)
From 丅, an ancient form of 下 xià. ɕ x hs 小 (ㄒㄧㄠˇ, xiǎo)
From Zhi1 seal.png/㞢, archaic form of 之 zhī. ʈʂ zh ch 主 (ㄓㄨˇ, zhǔ)
From the character and radical 彳 chì ʈʂʰ ch ch' 出 (ㄔㄨ, chū)
From the character 尸 shī ʂ sh sh 束 (ㄕㄨˋ, shù)
Modified from the seal script form of 日 ʐ r j 入 (ㄖㄨˋ, rù)
From the archaic character and current radical 卩 jié, dialectically zié ʦ z ts 在 (ㄗㄞˋ, zài)
Variant of 七 , dialectically ciī. Compare semi-cursive form Qi1 seven semicursive.png and seal-script Qi1 seven seal.png. ʦʰ c ts' 才 (ㄘㄞˊ, cái)
From the archaic character 厶 sī, which was later replaced by its compound 私 sī. s s s 塞 (ㄙㄞ, sāi)
Rhymes & Medials
Zhuyin Origin IPA Pinyin WG Example
From 丫 āh a a a 大 (ㄉㄚˋ, dà)
From the obsolete character 𠀀 hē, inhalation, the reverse of 丂 kǎo, which is preserved as a phonetic in the compound 可 kě. ǫ/ɔ o o 多 (ㄉㄨㄛ, duō)
Derived from its allophone in Standard Chinese, ㄛ o ɤ e o/ê 得 (ㄉㄜˊ, dé)
From 也 yě. Compare the Warring States bamboo form Ye3 also chu3jian3 warring state of chu3 small.png ɛ ê eh 爹 (ㄉㄧㄝ, diē)
From 𠀅 hài, bronze form of 亥. ai ai 晒 (ㄕㄞˋ, shài)
From 乁 yí, an obsolete character meaning 移 "to move". ei ei 誰 (ㄕㄟˊ, shéi)
From 幺 yāo ɑʊ ao ao 少 (ㄕㄠˇ, shǎo)
From 又 yòu ou ou 收 (ㄕㄡ, shōu)
From the obsolete character ㄢ hàn "to bloom", preserved as a phonetic in the compound 犯 fàn an an an 山 (ㄕㄢ, shān)
From 乚 yǐn ən en ên 申 (ㄕㄣ, shēn)
From 尢 wāng ɑŋ ang ang 上 (ㄕㄤˋ, shàng)
From 厶, an obsolete form of 厷 gōng ɤŋ eng êng 生 (ㄕㄥ, shēng)
From 儿, the bottom portion of 兒 ér used as a cursive form əɻ er êrh 而 (ㄦˊ, ér)
From 一 i i/y i 逆 (ㄋㄧˋ, nì)
From 㐅, ancient form of 五 wǔ. u u/w u/w 努 (ㄋㄨˇ, nǔ)
From the ancient character 凵 qū, which remains as a radical y ü/yu/u ü/yü 女 (ㄋㄩˇ, nǚ)
U+312D.svg Perhaps 市, in addition to ㄓ. It is the minimal vowel of ㄓ, ㄔ, ㄕ, ㄖ, ㄗ, ㄘ, ㄙ. ɿ/ʅ -i ih/û 資 (ㄗ, zī)


 *International Phonetic Alphabet



Hear the Zhunyin Pronounced


It is also VITAL to remember when you are first learning that

Chinese words are either in One Part or Two Parts

It is important when learning to say each part clearly before putting them together

This site has excellent examples of that






1st    High and Level

2nd    Starts medium in tone, then rises to the top

3rd    Starts low, dips to the bottom, then rises towards the the starting point - a bit like a low rumble really, not like a swooping roller-coaster ride

4th    Starts at the top then falls sharply and quickly to the bottom, it sounds like a short sharp high sound because it starts at the top - do not mistake it for the first tone.