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I was browsing through the Taiwanese version of apple.com. When I was checking out the iPad Air 2 section, one of the image showed the iPad keyboard with some characters that I have never seen before. Are they Chinese or Japanese? From what I have learned, they are not in hiragana and katakana scripts. And also, what is their meaning? Thanks.

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They are Bopomofos (注音符号): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bopomofo

According to Wikipedia, Zhuyin fuhao, Zhuyin or Bopomofo is a system of phonetic notation for the transcription of spoken Chinese, particularly the Mandarin dialect.

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    +1. Since it is used in taiwan, they'd say it is used to transcribe 國語. – Philipp Sep 1 '15 at 19:57
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    It's also used for Minnan and other dialects, if you check out MoEdict (.com?) you can see it being used widely like "pinyin" for languages in TW. – user3306356 Sep 2 '15 at 2:34
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    "注音符号" also can be found in many dictionaries in China mainland as well. But it is not taught in school these days. – Madwyn Sep 4 '15 at 11:19
  • Don't be scared of that keyboard layout. Search "learn zhuyin" or similar on the App Store and you'll find free apps to learn zhuyin. It takes as long as a week to be learned with the available apps and it's way better than pinyin both as an input system and as a phonetic notation. – Fry Simpson Mar 20 '17 at 9:22
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It's zhuyin (注音) , or bopomofo in English. Just as hanyupinyin/pinyin (漢語拼音/拼音) is the phonetic 'spelling' system in Mainland China, it's zhuyin in Taiwan. Zhuyin is taught in kindergartens and elementary schools, and people use it for typing and looking up in dictionaries (not the only way for typing and dictionary lookup though).

As it's the same language with the same pronunciation system, there are conversion tables between them. zhuyin-pinyin conversion table

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