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Pe̍h-ōe-jī (白话字, pronounced "peʔ˩ ue˩ dzi˨", abbreviated POJ, literally vernacular writing, also known as Church Romanization) is an orthography used to write variants of Southern Min, a Sinitic language, particularly Taiwanese Southern Min and Amoy Hokkien. Developed by Western missionaries working among the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia in the 19th century and refined by missionaries working in Xiamen and Tainan, it uses a modified Latin alphabet and some diacritics to represent the spoken language. After initial success in Fujian, POJ became most widespread in Taiwan, and in the mid-20th century there were over 100,000 people literate in POJ. A large amount of printed material, religious and secular, has been produced in the script, including Taiwan's first newspaper, the Taiwan Church News.

The orthography was suppressed during the Japanese era in Taiwan (1895–1945), and faced further countermeasures during the Kuomintang martial law period (1947–1987). In Fujian, use declined after the establishment of the People's Republic of China (1949) and in the early 21st century the system was not in general use there. Taiwanese Christians, non-native learners of the language, and native-speaker enthusiasts in Taiwan are among those that continue to use Pe̍h-ōe-jī. Full native computer support was developed in 2004, and users can now call on fonts, input methods, and extensive online dictionaries. Rival writing systems have evolved, and there is ongoing debate within the Taiwanese mother tongue movement as to which system should be used. Versions of pe̍h-ōe-jī have been devised for other languages, including Hakka and Teochew.


Template:Chinese The name pe̍h-ōe-jī (Template:Zh) means "vernacular writing", that is, written characters representing everyday spoken language.Template:Sfnp Though the name vernacular writing could be applied to many kinds of writing, romanized and character-based, the term pe̍h-ōe-jī is commonly restricted to the Southern Min romanization system developed by Presbyterian missionaries in the 19th century.Template:Sfnp

The missionaries who invented and refined the system didn't use the name pe̍h-ōe-jī, however, instead using various terms such as "Romanized Amoy Vernacular" and "Romanized Amoy Colloquial".Template:Sfnp The origins of the system and its extensive use in the Christian community has led to it being known by some modern-day writers as "Church Romanization" (Template:Zh; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kàu-hōe Lô-má-jī); often abbreviated in POJ itself to "Kàu-lô" (Template:Zh).Template:Sfnp There is some debate as to whether "pe̍h-ōe-jī" or "Church Romanization" is the more appropriate name.

Objections raised to "pe̍h-ōe-jī" include that the surface meaning of the word itself is more generic than one specific system, and that both literary and colloquial register Southern Min appear in the system (meaning that describing it as "vernacular" writing might be inaccurate).Template:Sfnp Opposition to the name "Church Romanization" is based on the identification with the church, as the writing is used by a wider community than just Christians, and for secular as well as sacred writing.Template:Sfnp One commentator observes that POJ "today is largely disassociated from its former religious purposes".Template:Sfnp The term "romanization" is also disliked by some, who see it as belittling the status of pe̍h-ōe-jī by identifying it as a supplementary phonetic system, rather than a fully-fledged orthography.Template:Sfnp Sources disagree on which represents the more commonly used name of the two.Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp


File:Pa-khek-le Kau-hoe.jpg
Pe̍h-ōe-jī inscription at a church in Tainan (Tâi-lâm) commemorating Thomas Barclay

The history of Peh-oe-ji has been heavily influenced by official attitudes towards the Southern Min vernaculars and the Christian organizations that propagated it. Early documents point to the purpose of the creation of POJ as being pedagogical in nature, closely allied to educating Christian converts.Template:Sfnp

Early development[edit]

The first people to use a romanized script to write Southern Min were Spanish missionaries in Manila in the 16th century.Template:Sfnp However, it was used mainly as a teaching aid for Spanish learners of the language, and seems not to have had any influence on the development of pe̍h-ōe-jī.Template:Sfnp In the early 19th century, China was closed to Christian missionaries, who instead proselytized to overseas Chinese communities in South East Asia.Template:Sfnp The earliest origins of the system are found in a small vocabulary first printed in 1820 by Walter Henry Medhurst,Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp who went on to publish the Dictionary of the Hok-këèn Dialect of the Chinese Language, According to the Reading and Colloquial Idioms in 1832.Template:Sfnp

This dictionary represents the first major reference work in POJ, although the romanization within was quite different from the modern system, and has been dubbed Early Church Romanization by one scholar of the subject.Template:Sfnp Medhurst, who was stationed in Malacca, was influenced by Robert Morrison's romanization of Mandarin Chinese, but had to innovate in several areas to reflect major differences between Mandarin and Southern Min.Template:Sfnp Several important developments occurred in Medhurst's work, especially the application of consistent tone markings (influenced by contemporary linguistic studies of Sanskrit, which was becoming of more mainstream interest to Western scholars).Template:Sfnp Medhurst was convinced that accurate representation and reproduction of the tonal structure of Southern Min was vital to comprehension: Template:Blockquote

File:Doty frontispiece.png
Frontispiece of Doty's Anglo Chinese Manual of the Amoy Dialect (1853)

The system expounded by Medhurst influenced later dictionary compilers with regard to tonal notation and initials, but both his complicated vowel system and his emphasis on the literary register of Southern Min were dropped by later writers.Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp Following on from Medhurst's work, Samuel Wells Williams became the chief proponent of major changes in the orthography devised by Morrison and adapted by Medhurst. Through personal communication and letters and articles printed in The Chinese Repository a consensus was arrived at for the new version of POJ, although Williams' suggestions were largely not followed.Template:Sfnp

The first major work to represent this new orthography was Elihu Doty's Anglo-Chinese Manual with Romanized Colloquial in the Amoy Dialect,Template:Sfnp published in 1853. The manual can therefore be regarded as the first presentation of a pre-modern POJ, a significant step onwards from Medhurst's orthography and different from today's system in only a few details.Template:Sfnp From this point on various authors adjusted some of the consonants and vowels, but the system of tone marks from Doty's Manual survives intact in modern POJ.Template:Sfnp John Van Nest Talmage has traditionally been regarded as the founder of POJ among the community which uses the orthography, although it now seems that he was an early promoter of the system, rather than its inventor.Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp

In 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was concluded, which included among its provisions the creation of treaty ports in which Christian missionaries would be free to preach.Template:Sfnp Xiamen (then known as Amoy) was one of these treaty ports, and British, Canadian and American missionaries moved in to start preaching to the local inhabitants. These missionaries, housed in the cantonment of Gulangyu, created reference works and religious tracts, including a bible translation.Template:Sfnp Naturally, they based the pronunciation of their romanization on the speech of Xiamen, which became the de facto standard when they eventually moved into other areas of the Hokkien Sprachraum, most notably Taiwan.Template:Sfnp The 1858 Treaty of Tianjin officially opened Taiwan to western missionaries, and missionary societies were quick to send men to work in the field, usually after a sojourn in Xiamen to acquire the rudiments of the language.Template:Sfnp


Template:Quote box Quanzhou and Zhangzhou are two major varieties of Southern Min, and in Xiamen they combined to form something "not Quan, not Zhang" – i.e. not one or the other, but rather a fusion, which became known as Amoy Dialect or Amoy Chinese.Template:Sfnp In Taiwan, with its mixture of migrants from both Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, the linguistic situation was similar; although the resulting blend in the southern city of Tainan differed from the Xiamen blend, it was close enough that the missionaries could ignore the differences and import their system wholesale.Template:Sfnp

The fact that religious tracts, dictionaries, and teaching guides already existed in the Xiamen tongue meant that the missionaries in Taiwan could begin proselytizing immediately, without the intervening time needed to write those materials.Template:Sfnp Missionary opinion was divided on whether POJ was desirable as an end in itself as a full-fledged orthography, or as a means to literacy in Chinese characters. William Campbell described POJ as a step on the road to reading and writing the characters, claiming that to promote it as an independent writing system would inflame nationalist passions in China, where characters were considered a sacred part of Chinese culture.Template:Sfnp Taking the other side, Thomas Barclay believed that literacy in POJ should be a goal rather than a waypoint: Template:Blockquote A great boon to the promotion of POJ in Taiwan came in 1880 when James Laidlaw Maxwell, a medical missionary based in Tainan, donated a small printing press to the local church,[1] which Thomas Barclay learned how to operate in 1881 before founding the Presbyterian Church Press in 1884. Subsequently the Taiwan Prefectural City Church News, which first appeared in 1885 and was produced by Barclay's Presbyterian Church of Taiwan Press,[1] became the first printed newspaper in Taiwan.Template:Sfnp

As other authors made their own alterations to the conventions laid down by Medhurst and Doty, pe̍h-ōe-jī evolved and eventually settled into its current form. Ernest Tipson's 1934 pocket dictionary was the first reference work to reflect this modern spelling.Template:Sfnp Between Medhurst's dictionary of 1832 and the standardization of POJ in Tipson's time, there were a number of works published, which can be used to chart the change over time of pe̍h-ōe-jī:[2]

Evolution of pe̍h-ōe-jī, 1832–1934
Year Author pe̍h-ōe-jī spellings comparison Source
Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA/Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA Template:IPA
1832 Medhurst ch gn ëen ëet ek eng oe ’h Template:Sfnp
1853 Doty ch ng ian iat iek ieng Template:Sfnp
1869 MacGowan ts ng ien iet ek eng h Template:Sfnp
1873 Douglas ch ts ng ien iet ek eng ɵ͘ h Template:Sfnp
1894 Van Nest Talmage ch ng ian iat ek eng h Template:Sfnp
1911 Warnshuis & de Pree ch ng ian iat ek eng h Template:Sfnp
1913 Campbell ch ts ng ian iat ek eng h Template:Sfnp
1923 Barclay ch ts ng ian iet ek eng h Template:Sfnp
1934 Tipson ch ng ian iat ek eng h Template:Sfnp
File:Taiwanese kana.png
Taiwanese kana used as ruby characters

Competition for POJ was introduced during the Japanese era in Taiwan (1895–1945) in the form of Taiwanese kana, a system designed as a teaching aid and pronunciation guide, rather than an independent orthography like POJ.Template:Sfnp From the 1930s onwards, with the increasing militarization of Japan and the Kōminka movement encouraging Taiwanese people to "Japanize", there were a raft of measures taken against native languages, including Taiwanese.Template:Sfnp While these moves resulted in a suppression of POJ, they were "a logical consequence of increasing the amount of education in Japanese, rather than an explicit attempt to ban a particular Taiwanese orthography in favor of Taiwanese kana".Template:Sfnp

The Second Sino-Japanese War beginning in 1937 brought stricter measures into force, and along with the outlawing of romanized Taiwanese, various publications were prohibited and Confucian-style shobō (Template:Zh) – private schools which taught Classical Chinese with literary Southern Min pronunciation – were closed down in 1939.Template:Sfnp The Japanese authorities came to perceive POJ as an obstacle to Japanization and also suspected that POJ was being used to hide "concealed codes and secret revolutionary messages".Template:Sfnp In the climate of the ongoing war the government banned the Taiwan Church News in 1942 as it was written in POJ.Template:Sfnp

After World War II[edit]

File:Banning of POJ.gif
A decree (1955) banning Pe̍h-ōe-jī.

Initially the Kuomintang government in Taiwan had a liberal attitude towards "local dialects" (i.e. non-Mandarin varieties of Chinese). The Mandarin Promotion Council produced booklets outlining versions of Mandarin Phonetic Symbols ("Bopomofo") for writing the Taiwanese tongue, these being intended for newly arrived government officials from outside Taiwan as well as local Taiwanese.Template:Sfnp The first government action against native languages came in 1953, when the use of Taiwanese or Japanese for instruction was forbidden.Template:Sfnp The next move to suppress the movement came in 1955, when the use of POJ for proselytizing was outlawed.Template:Sfnp At that point in time there were 115,000 people literate in POJ in Taiwan, Fujian, and southeast Asia.Template:Sfnp

Two years later, missionaries were banned from using romanized bibles, and the use of "native languages" (i.e. Taiwanese, Hakka, and the Aboriginal languages) in church work became illegal.Template:Sfnp The ban on POJ bibles was overturned in 1959, but churches were "encouraged" to use character bibles instead.Template:Sfnp Government activities against POJ intensified in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when several publications were banned or seized in an effort to prevent the spread of the romanization. In 1964 use of Taiwanese in schools or official settings was forbidden,Template:Sfnp and transgression in schools punished with beatings, fines and humiliation.Template:Sfnp The Taiwan Church News (printed in POJ) was banned in 1969, and only allowed to return a year later when the publishers agreed to print it in Chinese characters.Template:SfnpTemplate:Sfnp

In 1974, the Government Information Office banned A Dictionary of Southern Min, with a government official saying: "We have no objection to the dictionary being used by foreigners. They could use it in mimeographed form. But we don't want it published as a book and sold publicly because of the Romanization it contains. Chinese should not be learning Chinese through Romanization."[3] Also in the 1970s, a POJ New Testament translation known as the "Red Cover Bible" was confiscated and banned by the Nationalist regime.Template:Sfnp Official moves against native languages continued into the 1980s, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior decided in 1984 to forbid missionaries to use "local dialects" and romanizations in their work.Template:Sfnp

With the ending of martial law in 1987, the restrictions on "local languages" were quietly lifted,Template:Sfnp resulting in growing interest in Taiwanese writing during the 1990s.Template:Sfnp For the first time since the 1950s, Taiwanese language and literature was discussed and debated openly in newspapers and journals.Template:Sfnp There was also support from the then opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, for writing in the language.Template:Sfnp From a total of 26 documented orthographies for Taiwanese in 1987 (including defunct systems), there were a further 38 invented from 1987 to 1999, including 30 different romanizations, six adaptations of Zhuyin fuhao and two Hangul-like systems.Template:Sfnp Some commentators believe that the Kuomintang, while steering clear of outright banning of the native language movements after the end of martial law, took a "divide and conquer" approach by promoting Taiwanese Language Phonetic Alphabet (TLPA), an alternative to POJ,Template:Sfnp which was at the time the choice of the majority inside the nativization movement.Template:Sfnp Native language education has remained a fiercely debated topic in Taiwan into the 21st century, and is the subject of much political wrangling.[4][5]

Current system[edit]

Template:See also The current system of pe̍h-ōe-jī has been stable since the 1930s, with a few minor exceptions (detailed below).Template:Sfnp There is a fair degree of similarity with the Vietnamese orthography Quốc Ngữ, including the Template:Angle bracket distinction and the use of Template:Angle bracket in Quốc Ngữ compared with Template:Angle bracket in POJ.Template:Sfnp POJ uses the following letters and combinations:Template:Sfnp

Capital Letters A B Ch Chh E G H I J K Kh L M N Ng O P Ph S T Th U
Small Letters a b ch chh e g h i j k kh l m n ng o p ph s t th u

Chinese phonology traditionally divides syllables in Chinese languages into three parts; firstly the initial, a consonant or consonant blend which appears at the beginning of the syllable, secondly the final, consisting of a medial vowel (optional), a nucleus vowel, and an optional ending; and finally the tone, which is applied to the whole syllable.Template:Sfnp In terms of the non-tonal (i.e. phonemic) features, the nucleus vowel is the only required part of a licit consonant in Chinese languages.Template:Sfnp Unlike Mandarin but like other southern varieties of Chinese, Taiwanese has final plosives, which have no audible release, a feature that has been preserved from Middle Chinese.Template:Sfnp There is some debate as to whether these stops are a tonal feature or a phonemic one, with some authorities distinguishing between Template:Angle bracket as a tonal feature, and Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, and Template:Angle bracket as phonemic features.Template:Sfnp Southern Min dialects also have an optional nasal property, which is written with a superscript Template:Angle bracket and usually identified as being part of the vowel.Template:Sfnp

A legitimate syllable in Hokkien takes the form (initial) + (medial vowel) + nucleus + (stop) + tone, where items in parenthesis indicate optional components.Template:Sfnp

The initials are:Template:Sfnp

Bilabial Alveolar Alveolo-palatal Velar Glottal
Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless
Nasal [[Bilabial nasal|m Template:IPA]]
ㄇ 毛 (mo͘ )
[[Alveolar nasal|n Template:IPA]]
ㄋ 耐 (nāi)
[[Velar nasal|ng Template:IPA]]
ㄫ 雅 (ngá)
Plosive Unaspirated [[Voiceless bilabial plosive|p Template:IPA]]
ㄅ 邊 (pian)
[[Voiced bilabial plosive|b Template:IPA]]
ㆠ 文 (bûn)
[[Voiceless alveolar plosive|t Template:IPA]]
ㄉ 地 (tē)
[[Voiceless velar plosive|k Template:IPA]]
ㄍ 求 (kiû)
[[Voiced velar plosive|g Template:IPA]]
ㆣ 語 (gí)
Aspirated [[Voiceless bilabial plosive|ph Template:IPA]]
ㄆ 波 (pho)
[[Voiceless alveolar plosive|th Template:IPA]]
ㄊ 他 (thaⁿ)
[[Voiceless velar plosive|kh Template:IPA]]
ㄎ 去 (khì)
Affricate Unaspirated [[Voiceless alveolar affricate|ch Template:IPA]]
ㄗ 曾 (chan)
[[Voiced alveolar affricate|j Template:IPA]]
ㆡ 熱 (joa̍h)
[[Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate|chi Template:IPA]]
ㄐ 尖 (chiam)
[[Voiced alveolo-palatal affricate|ji Template:IPA]]
ㆢ 入 (ji̍p)
Aspirated [[Voiceless alveolar affricate|chh Template:IPA]]
ㄘ 出 (chhut)
[[Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate|chhi Template:IPA]]
ㄑ 手 (chhiú)
Fricative [[Voiceless alveolar sibilant|s Template:IPA]]
ㄙ 衫 (saⁿ)
[[Voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant|si Template:IPA]]
ㄒ 寫 (siá)
[[Voiceless glottal fricative|h Template:IPA]]
ㄏ 喜 (hí)
Lateral [[Alveolar lateral approximant|l Template:IPA]]
ㄌ 柳 (liú)


Front Central Back
Simple Nasal Simple Simple Nasal
Close [[Close front unrounded vowel|i Template:IPA]]
ㄧ 衣 (i)
[[Close front unrounded vowel|iⁿ Template:IPA]]
ㆪ 圓 (îⁿ)
[[Close back rounded vowel|u Template:IPA]]
ㄨ 污 (u)
[[Close back rounded vowel|uⁿ Template:IPA]]
ㆫ 張 (tiuⁿ)
Mid [[Close-mid front unrounded vowel|e Template:IPA]]
ㆤ 禮 (lé)
[[Close-mid front unrounded vowel|eⁿ Template:IPA]]
ㆥ 生 (seⁿ)
[[Mid-central vowel|o Template:IPA]]
ㄜ 高 (ko)
[[Open-mid back rounded vowel| Template:IPA]]
ㆦ 烏 (o͘ )
[[Open-mid back rounded vowel|oⁿ Template:IPA]]
ㆧ 翁 (oⁿ)
Open [[Open front unrounded vowel|a Template:IPA]]
ㄚ 查 (cha)
[[Open front unrounded vowel|aⁿ Template:IPA]]
ㆩ 衫 (saⁿ)
Diphthongs & Triphthongs
Diphthongs ai Template:IPA
au Template:IPA
ia Template:IPA
io Template:IPA
iu Template:IPA
oa Template:IPA
oe Template:IPA
ui Template:IPA
Triphthongs iau Template:IPA
oai Template:IPA

Coda endings:

Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal consonant [[Bilabial nasal|-m Template:IPA]]
[[Alveolar nasal|-n Template:IPA]]
[[Velar nasal|-ng Template:IPA]]
Stop consonant -p Template:IPA
-t Template:IPA
-k Template:IPA
[[Glottal stop|-h Template:IPA]]
Syllabic consonant
Bilabial Velar
Nasal m Template:IPA
ㆬ 姆 (ḿ)
ng Template:IPA
ㆭ 酸 (sng)

POJ has a limited amount of legitimate syllables, although sources disagree on some particular instances of these syllables. The following table contains all the licit spellings of POJ syllables, based on a number of sources:

Sources: Campbell,Template:Sfnp Embree,Template:Sfnp Kì.Template:Sfnp

Tone markings[edit]

Number Diacritic Chinese tone name Example
1 none 陰平 (yinping)
dark level
foot; leg
2 acute 上聲 (shangsheng)
3 grave 陰去 (yinqu)
dark departing
4 none 陰入 (yinru)
dark entering
5 circumflex 陽平 (yangping)
light level
7 macron 陽去 (yangqu)
light departing
8 vertical line above 陽入 (yangru)
light entering
File:POJ tone marks.png
The five tone markings used in pe̍h-ōe-jī, representing tones 2, 3, 5, 7, and 8

In standard Amoy or Taiwanese Hokkien there are seven distinct tones, which by convention are numbered 1–8, with number 6 omitted (tone 6 used to be a distinct tone, but has long since merged with tone 2).[6] Tones 1 and 4 are both represented without a diacritic, and can be distinguished from each other by the syllable ending, which is a vowel, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, or Template:Angle bracket for tone 1, and Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, and Template:Angle bracket for tone 4.

Southern Min languages undergo considerable tone sandhi, i.e. changes to the tone depending on the position of the syllable in any given sentence or utterance.Template:Sfnp However, like Hanyu Pinyin for Mandarin Chinese, POJ always marks the citation tone (i.e. the original, pre-sandhi tone) rather than the tone which is actually spoken.Template:Sfnp This means that when reading aloud the reader must adjust the tone markings on the page to account for sandhi. Some textbooks for learners of the language mark both the citation tone and the sandhi tone to assist the learner.Template:Sfnp

There is some debate as to the correct placement of tone marks in the case of diphthongs and triphthongs, particularly those which include Template:Angle bracket and Template:Angle bracket.Template:Sfnp Most modern writers follow six rules:Template:Sfnp

  1. If the syllable has one vowel, that vowel should be tone-marked; viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket
  2. If a diphthong contains Template:Angle bracket or Template:Angle bracket, the tone mark goes above the other vowel; viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket
  3. If a diphthong includes both Template:Angle bracket and Template:Angle bracket, mark the Template:Angle bracket; viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket
  4. If the final is made up of three or more letters, mark the second vowel (except when rules 2 and 3 apply); viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket
  5. If Template:Angle bracket occurs with Template:Angle bracket or Template:Angle bracket, mark the Template:Angle bracket; viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket
  6. If the syllable has no vowel, mark the nasal consonant; viz. Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket, Template:Angle bracket


A single hyphen is used to indicate a compound. What constitutes a compound is controversial, with some authors equating it to a "word" in English, and others not willing to limit it to the English concept of a word.Template:Sfnp Examples from POJ include Template:Angle bracket "forty", Template:Angle bracket "circus", and Template:Angle bracket "recover (from illness)". The rule-based sandhi behaviour of tones in compounds has not yet been clearly defined by linguists.Template:Sfnp A double hyphen Template:Angle bracket is used when POJ is deployed as an orthography (rather than as a transcription system) to indicate that the following syllable should be pronounced in the neutral tone.Template:Sfnp It also marks to the reader that the preceding syllable does not undergo tone sandhi, as it would were the following syllable non-neutral. Morphemes following a double hyphen are often (but not always) grammatical function words.Template:Sfnp

Audio examples[edit]

POJ Translation Audio File
Template:Lang A teacher/master speaks, students quietly listen. Template:Audio
Template:Lang Today that girl came to my house to see me. Template:Audio
Template:Lang Space friends, how are you? Have you eaten yet? When you have the time, come on over to eat. Listen (from NASA Voyager Golden Record)

Regional differences[edit]

In addition to the standard syllables detailed above, there are several regional variations of Hokkien speech which can be represented with non-standard or semi-standard spellings. In Zhangzhou and parts of Taiwan which are closely related to the Zhangzhou dialect (particularly the northeastern coast around Yilan), the final Template:Angle bracket is replaced with Template:Angle bracket, for example in "egg" Template:Angle bracket and "cooked rice" Template:Angle bracket.Template:Sfnp


Template:Quote box Due to POJ's origins in the church, much of the material in the script is religious in nature, including several Bible translations, books of hymns, and guides to morality. The Tainan Church Press, established in 1884, has been printing POJ materials ever since, with periods of quiet when POJ was suppressed in the early 1940s and from around 1955 to 1987. In the period to 1955, over 2.3 million volumes of POJ books were printed,Template:Sfnp and one study in 2002 catalogued 840 different POJ texts in existence.Template:Sfnp Besides a Southern Min version of Wikipedia in the orthography,Template:Sfnp there are teaching materials, religious texts, and books about linguistics, medicine and geography.


POJ was initially not well supported by word-processing applications due to the special diacritics needed to write it. Support has now improved and there are now sufficient resources to both enter and display POJ correctly. Several input methods exist to enter Unicode-compliant POJ, including OpenVanilla (Mac OS X and Windows), the cross-platform Tai-lo Input Method released by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education, and the Firefox add-on Transliterator, which allows in-browser POJ input.Template:Sfnp When POJ was first used in word-processing applications it was not fully supported by the Unicode standard, thus necessitating work-arounds. One employed was encoding the necessary characters in the "Private Use" section of Unicode, but this required both the writer and the reader to have the correct custom font installed.Template:Sfnp Another solution was to replace troublesome characters with near equivalents, for example substituting Template:Angle bracket for Template:Angle bracket or using a standard Template:Angle bracket followed by an interpunct to represent Template:Angle bracket.Template:Sfnp With the introduction into Unicode 4.1.0 of the combining diacritic COMBINING DOT ABOVE RIGHT (U+0358) in 2004, all the necessary characters were present to write regular POJ without the need for workarounds.Template:Sfnp[7] However, even after the addition of these characters, there are still relatively few fonts which are able to properly render the script, including the combining diacritics. Some of those which can are Charis SIL, DejaVu, Doulos SIL, Linux Libertine, and Taigi Unicode.Template:Sfnp

Han-Romanization mixed script[edit]

Template:Quote box One of the most popular modern ways of writing Taiwanese is by using a mixed orthographyTemplate:Sfnp called Hàn-lôTemplate:Sfnp (Template:Zh; literally Chinese-Roman), and sometimes Han-Romanization mixed script, a style not unlike written Japanese or (historically) Korean.Template:Sfnp In fact, the term Hàn-lô does not describe one specific system, but covers any kind of writing in Southern Min which features both Chinese characters and romanization.Template:Sfnp That romanization is usually POJ, although recently some texts have begun appearing with Tâi-lô spellings too. The problem with using only Chinese characters to write Southern Min is that there are many morphemes (estimated to be around 15 percent of running text)Template:Sfnp which are not definitively associated with a particular character. Various strategies have been developed to deal with the issue, including creating new characters, allocating Chinese characters used in written Mandarin with similar meanings (but dissimilar etymology) to represent the missing characters, or using romanization for the "missing 15%".Template:Sfnp There are two rationales for using mixed orthography writing, with two different aims. The first is to allow native speakers (almost all of whom can already write Chinese characters) to make use of their knowledge of characters, while replacing the missing 15% with romanization.Template:Sfnp The second is to wean character literates off using them gradually, to be replaced eventually by fully romanized text.Template:Sfnp Examples of modern texts in Hàn-lô include religious, pedagogical, scholarly, and literary works, such as:

Adaptations for other languages or dialects[edit]

POJ has been adapted for several other languages and dialects, with varying degrees of success. For Hakka, missionaries and others have produced a Bible translation, hymn book, textbooks, and dictionaries.Template:Sfnp Materials produced in the orthography, called Pha̍k-fa-sṳ, include:

A modified version of POJ has also been created for Teochew.[8]

Current status[edit]

File:Books which use the Pe̍h-ōe-jī romanisation system for Southern Min-Taiwanese.jpg
Some books which use pe̍h-ōe-jī, including textbooks, dictionaries, a bible, poetry, and academic works

Most native Southern Min speakers in Taiwan are unfamiliar with POJ or any other writing system for the language,Template:Sfnp commonly asserting that "Taiwanese has no writing",Template:Sfnp or, if they are made aware of POJ, considering romanization as the "low" form of writing, in contrast with the "high" form (Chinese characters).Template:Sfnp For those who are introduced to POJ alongside Han-lo and completely Chinese character-based systems, a clear preference has been shown for all-character systems, with all-romanization systems at the bottom of the preference list, likely because of the preexisting familiarity of readers with Chinese characters.Template:Sfnp

POJ remains the Taiwanese orthography "with the richest inventory of written work, including dictionaries, textbooks, literature [...] and other publications in many areas".Template:Sfnp A 1999 estimate put the number of literate POJ users at around 100,000,Template:Sfnp and secular organizations have been formed to promote the use of romanization among Taiwanese speakers.Template:Sfnp

Outside Taiwan, POJ is rarely used. For example, in Fujian, Xiamen University uses a romanization known as Bbánlám pìngyīm, based on Pinyin. In other areas where Hokkien is spoken, such as Singapore, the Speak Mandarin Campaign is underway to actively discourage people from speaking Hokkien or other Chinese dialects in favour of switching to Mandarin instead.[9]

In 2006, Taiwan's Ministry of Education chose an official romanization for use in teaching the language in the state school system.Template:Sfnp POJ was one of the candidate systems, along with Daighi tongiong pingim, but a compromise system, the Taiwanese Romanization System or Tâi-Lô, was chosen in the end.[10] Tâi-Lô retains most of the orthographic standards of POJ, including the tone marks, while changing the troublesome Template:Angle bracket character for Template:Angle bracket, swapping Template:Angle bracket for Template:Angle bracket, and replacing Template:Angle bracket in diphthongs with Template:Angle bracket.Template:Sfnp Supporters of Taiwanese writing are in general deeply suspicious of government involvement, given the history of official suppression of native languages,Template:Sfnp making it unclear whether Tâi-Lô or POJ will become the dominant system in the future.




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External links[edit]

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Input methods



POJ-compliant fonts



Texts and dictionaries


  • Template:Cite web – list of books in Taiwanese, including those written in POJ.
  • Template:Cite web – collection of Taiwanese texts in various orthographies, including many in POJ.
  • Template:Cite web – dictionary which includes POJ, Taiwanese in Chinese characters, and Mandarin characters. Some English definitions also available.
  • Template:Citation – sample images of various older POJ texts.