I've been using pinyin in my study, but a Taiwanese co-worker recently arrived. I see that Taiwan only made pinyin official in 2009, so I wonder how likely she is to have mastered pinyin, having finished college before 2009. I do know that at least one university there uses pinyin.

Of course I can ask, but I don't know how reliable her self-assessment will be. I wouldn't mind learning bopomofo, but I don't want it to slow down my learning to actually speak.

  • I don't understand the question. What does her proficiency of pinyin have to do with your learning? Also, there's no harm in asking.
    – judester
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:37
  • Learning to speak is aided by an ability to put the sounds in written form. I'm not a whiz at IPA, plus I would prefer to use the official (not only both countries but ISO) system instead of inventing my own. Actually I did ask, but didn't get an answer.
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:46
  • Having left Taiwan nearly 30 years ago before age of 7, I still get comments on how I have a Taiwanese accent. Unless you want to acquire a "softer" accent, learning Chinese from a native speaker from Taiwan is not something I would advise. Back to pinyin. Someone could have spent no time in the pinyin system and can use it intuitively, and vice versa.
    – judester
    Oct 13, 2017 at 11:53
  • Your advice prompts another question, but it really is a separate question, so, ... chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/26999/…
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 13, 2017 at 12:19
  • 1
    A few days after posting, I was trying to use pinyin to type a character and asked her about the pronunciation (to help me pick the right initial consonant). She couldn't answer because "we don't use that." She doesn't type with bopomofo either. She uses a "write with your finger on the screen" method.
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 18, 2017 at 13:53

3 Answers 3


Not very well known. I lived in Taiwan for a year in 2015, and there were times where I had asked a few Taiwan natives to type words I couldn't understand on my phone. When they saw my phone keyboard input, which was pinyin, they couldn't understand it. Almost all Taiwanese still use bopomofo to type Chinese on their phones. Honestly you don't have to learn bopomofo. Pinyin is easier to learn and the majority of Chinese speakers use it. Just focus on using pinyin, memorizing characters, and speaking to Chinese speakers.

  • My friend doesn’t use bopomofo or pinyin. She uses handwriting recognition. I use pinyin on my laptop and my iPad, but the android version of pinyin is completely different. If I don’t know the pronunciation, I have to use script recognition also.
    – 伟思礼
    Dec 18, 2017 at 23:12

I can't provide an exact answer. I think that all depends on how well that person can type Simplified Chinese - since Pinyin input is the most popular input method for Simplified Chinese currently.

In my experience, if your friends always response in traditional Chinese, and she's like 30+ years old, I am sure she's probably not good at Pinyin/Unwilling to use Pinyin.

BTW, no matter she uses Pinyin or Bopomofo, that's only the ways of typing. That won't affect the communication as long as you know both Simplified/Tradition Chinese. But if you need phonetics to learn, you may have difficulty. At that case, you'd better leverage the online Dictionary tool like yellowbridge.com or even YouTube.

Learning phonetics or pronunciation with Bopomofo seems less efficient to me since all modern Chinese dictionaries provide pronunciation in Pingyin in general.

From a blog post, we can tell even in Taiwan, people start teaching Pinyin over Bopomofo. According to her view, Pinyin is more friendly to a new learner.

If you learn Simplified Chinese, I would definitely recommend Pinyin. I tried to learn Bopomofo myself but I found it difficult. From my point of view, the language itself should be a tool, not a purpose.(Unless you have an academic study purpose)

  • It doesn't affect the communication, but it does affect the learning. You can't learn how to pronounce things from 汉字。
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 18, 2017 at 13:49
  • @伟思礼 Since you don't specify it at your question. So I made my assumption. But if you wiki the "Pinyin" and "Bopomofo". You would know the character share the same pronunciation, in both Pinyin and Bopomofo, as long as they're in "standard modern Chinese". The pronunciation exists before the input system.
    – Kevman
    Oct 18, 2017 at 13:54
  • I already know there is a one-to-one correspondence. But I already know pinyin, and would prefer not to spend time learning bopomofo instead of learning new language.
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 18, 2017 at 13:57
  • @伟思礼 Like I said, it's safe to not learning bopomofo if you know pinyin. I never know bopomofo. In my experience, it doesn't make me looks "less native". lol。 The difference between Bopomofo and Pinyin do nothing to your talking/chatting with your friend, in person and remotely.
    – Kevman
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:01
  • @伟思礼 Let me make an analogy, it's like you typing with a computer keyboard while your friend typing with an old Nokia phone, even if you two speak English.
    – Kevman
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:05

Not so well! Taiwanese learn Mandarin through Zhuyin instead of pinyin. They even use Zhuyin to text. On top of that, even the romanization of language is done without pinyin in Taiwan. 高雄 is not "GaoXiong" but rather "KaoHsiung" so they don't even see it on English signs.

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