Foochow Romanized

Foochow Romanized

Foochow Romanized, a.k.a. Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; Chinese characters: 平話字) or Hók-ciŭ-uâ Lò̤-mā-cê (Chinese characters: 福州話羅馬字), is a romanized orthography for the Fuzhou dialect adopted in the middle of 19th century by Western missionaries. It had varied at different times, and became standardized several decades later. Foochow Romanized was mainly used inside of Church circles, and was taught in some Mission Schools in Fuzhou. [ [ 福州女校三鼎甲] (Chinese)] But unlike its counterpart Pe̍h-ōe-jī for Southern Min Language, Foochow Romanized, even in its prime days, was by no means universally understood by Christians. [R. S. Maclay, C. C. Baldwin, Samuel H. Leger: , 1929]

History of Foochow Romanized

rightAfter Fuzhou became one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanjing at the end of First Opium War (from 1839 to 1842), many Western missionaries arrived in the city. Faced with widespread illiteracy, they developed romanization schemes for Fuzhou dialect.

The first attempt in romanizing Fuzhou dialect was made by the American Methodist M. C. White, who borrowed a system of orthography known as the System of Sir William Jones. In this system, 14 initials were designed exactly according to their voicing and aspiration. P, T, K and CH stand for [p] , [t] , [k] and [ts] ; while the Greek spiritus lenis "᾿" were affixed to the above initials to represent their aspirated counterparts. Besides the default five vowels of Latin alphabet, four diacritic-marked letters È, Ë, Ò and Ü were also introduced, representing [ɛ] , [ø] , [ɔ] and [y] , respectively. This system is described at length in White's linguistic work "".

Subsequent missionaries, including Robert S. Maclay from American Methodist Episcopal Mission, R. W. Stewart from the Church of England and Charles Hartwell from the American Board Mission, further modified White's System in several ways. The most significant change was made in the scheme of plosive consonants, by which the spiritus lenis "᾿" of the aspirated initials was totally removed and the letters B, D and G were introduced to represent [p] [t] and [k] . In the aspect of vowels, È, Ë, Ò and Ü were replaced by , , and Ṳ; and since the diacritical marks were all shifted to underneath the vowels, tonal marks were thus invented.


The sample characters are taken from the phonetics book "Qī Lín Bāyīn" (《戚林八音》, Foochow Romanized: Unicode|Chék Lìng Báik-ĭng), a renowned phonology book about the Fuzhou dialect written in the Qing Dynasty. The pronunciations are recorded in standard IPA symbols.


Rimes with codas [-ŋ] and [-k]


See also

* Fuzhou dialect
* Qī Lín Bāyīn
* Min Dong
* Pe̍h-oē-jī

External links

* (in Foochowese)
* [ Unicode|GÔ IÓK CṲ̆] : The Old Testament, in Foochow Romanized.
* [ Unicode|SĬNG IÓK CṲ̆] : The New Testament, in Foochow Romanized.

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