Learning Chinese 學中文

Learning about bopomofo (zhuyin)

I have always said,”bo po mo fo” when we see “bpmf” in Mandarin class and never really wondered why. We just do…? But while we learn the 聲母 (initial sounds) in Pinyin and string them with 韻母 (ending sounds) and definitively come up with the sounds to match all Chinese characters (with plenty of overlap), there is also the “bopomofo system” of phonetics. It’s not like I’ve never encountered it before. I just never questioned about the “squiggles” besides the characters in some of the readers my mum purchased in Hong Kong way back.

I realized there is another system of learning Mandarin tones when Kiddo’s daycare friend’s Taiwanese mother was looking for a school and I desperately wanted them to learn Chinese together as they were splitting up after daycare. Would I follow and send Kiddo to in-person two days per week bopomofo class? And what is bopomofo?

Those squiggles which are a giveaway that you’re holding text from Taiwan where it’s only used there now. Daycare mom doesn’t know Pinyin and I rudimentarily learned it during one semester of a continuing education course for adults (Chinese for Cantonese speakers at Langara FTW). Practically speaking, unfortunately, I just had to register Kiddo in Pinyin class because it’s more widely used and I could have learned bopomofo alongside him but it’s just not the best use of my resources.

So like so many things, I admire it from a distance – such pretty printables on Etsy and look up our names in zhuyin.

Our names in Zhuyin

Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese character

Zhuyin dictionary I used for the above: Chinese Converter

And because I was feeling creative ….