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After years of frustration about not being able to distinguish ㄥ ㄣ, and nearly no improvements on iOS Zhuyin keyboard layout. I decided to switch to Pinyin for both mobile usage and daily desktop (I am a Mac user). What's your suggested ways of learning and your experience?

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  • Pinyin->Zhuyin is difficult, as there're many symbols to remember, but Zhuyin->Pinyin would be much easier, as they are (almost) one-to-one mapping and you have already know English. Just practice for several hours.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 4:31

3 Answers 3

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  1. There is an (almost) one-to-one mapping from Zhuyin to Pinyin, replacing symbols with letters. In my humble opinion, Pinyin only save one from remembering symbols.

  2. Neither Pinyin nor Zhuyin is perfect. Better learn both of them.

    Pinyin is the result of an attempt of romanization, everything is going well except that, after all, Chinese language is quite different from Latin family languages in many aspects, spelling, pronunciation, logic, or the way of thinking, so a perfectly matched mapping can be really hard to realize, if not impossible. So it's not surprising when the Pinyin transliteration is found to be a little strange to English pronunciation rules, e.g. in qi vs. chee, or gu vs. koo. A more intuitive transliteration is Wade-Giles. As a citizen of China, one had better learn and use Pinyin as Pinyin simplifies and boosts the learning or the input in digital devices in many situations. Chinese romanization is still in progress, and we all might contribute to it. Personally speaking, it is quite controversial to put Pinyin into the position of official representation of Chinese language pronunciation, say, for the lacking of cultural heritage, abrupt as a centaur. When it comes to input method, I prefer the faster heuristic Pinyin (such as Google's, QQ's and Sogou's) than Zhuyin.

    Zhuyin, based on a system invented by the late philosopher 章太炎 in 1910's. Zhuyin symbols presents a concise representation, which implies a simplification of pronunciation patterns, in other words, a standardized Mandarin would prevail and dialects or variations had to fend for themselves. Zhuyin is still officially in use among Taiwanese people, some of which feel it hard to move to Pinyin, for many reasons, such as personal habit or belief. Say it practically, Zhuyin has some advantage: some vowel Zhuyin symbols may give less keyboard hits than Pinyin, e.g. ㄠ (L) vs. ao (AO).

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  • Could you elaborate on 'neither Pinyin nor Zhuyin is perfect'?
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 2:51
  • Could you elaborate on 'you'?
    – George
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 3:52
  • 'You' here refers to the person who wrote this answer, whom the system suggests there is no need to mention with '@' symbol.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 4:10
  • I refuse to reply to someone who doesn't show politeness.
    – George
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 5:34
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    Why was the comment impolite? If it was, that's definitely not the intention.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 7:52
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I had a similar experience learning Chinese (My first teacher was from Taiwan, so we learned Zhu Yin). I found that the best way to learn pinyin was through chat room practice. Live conversations gave both contextual and applicable meaning to the pinyin I was using, and therefore helped solidify my understanding of pinyin.

I recommend going to http://www.zhongwen.com/ and clicking on Liaotian! and start chatting.

That site gives a comprehensive pinyin learning experience by displaying the pinyin dictionary right next to your chat room- so looking up words is convenient.

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Being a Chinese in mainland, I never learnt ZhuYin. I learn PinYin at my primary school.

But my mama learnt ZhuYin(60 years ago). And I remember that my old Chinese dictionary has both ZhuYin and PinYin.

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  • Zhuyin also appears in the appendix part of new version 新华字典 and 现代汉语词典.
    – Stan
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 16:56

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