I have learnt to use both zhuyin and pinyin for spelling out the pronunciation of a character. As far as I know, the two systems serve the same purpose and are interchangeable in terms of syllables.

As such, why would there be two standards? Does each have a specific context/setting in which they are used? Which one is more popular in general?

Thanks in advance!

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    其实有一些历史原因。历史上曾经出现过很多给汉字注音的方式。在1918年,北洋政府教育部公布注音符号作为正式规范,而拼音是在1958年(新中国成立后)在大陆正式发布,因此台湾等地并没有采用拼音方案。这两种注音方式孰优孰劣见仁见智。 – xdcsy Apr 13 '15 at 11:38

Zhuyin is commonly encountered in Taiwan and Taiwan-centric overseas communities. Not sure about its prevalence in other overseas communities a la Singapore, but I've found zhuyin easier to use with vertical text Chinese as is printed commonly in Taiwan and elsewhere, and suspect Zhuyin/bopomofo/bpmf would be more popular in those regions due to the better compatibility with vertical text. If you want to use the many excellent classical chinese training materials printed in Taiwan you'll need to be able to read bpmf.

I also suspect you'd find that typing bpmf is slightly faster than Pinyin because it uses single symbols for sounds like "eng" that require multiple keystrokes in the Pinyin case. And I personally find Zhuyin aesthetically less disruptive ;)

  • Some valid arguments I have not thought of. Thank you! – Thomas Hsieh Apr 13 '15 at 0:21
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    I just want to add that it's not difficult to learn both systems and that you might learn a thing or two by doing so. – Olle Linge Apr 13 '15 at 9:45

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