Chinese braille

Chinese braille

Chinese braille (simplified Chinese: 现行盲文; traditional Chinese: 現行盲文; pinyin: Xiànxíng Mángwén, literally "Current Braille") is a braille system for the Chinese language, especially in People's Republic of China. It is different from other braille systems, although a few of the patterns have been borrowed from alphabetical Braille as can be seen in the tables below.

One Chinese character is generally represented by 1 to 3 Braille cells, following its pronunciation in Standard Chinese. Every Mandarin syllable is decomposed into 3 parts: onset or initial (simplified Chinese: 声母; traditional Chinese: 聲母; pinyin: shēngmǔ), rime or final (simplified Chinese: 韵母; traditional Chinese: 韻母; pinyin: yùnmǔ), and tone (simplified Chinese: 声调; traditional Chinese: 聲調; pinyin: shēngdiào).




Pinyin b c d f g/j h/x r k/q l m n p ch s t z sh zh
Equivalent Braille ASCII B C D F G H J K L M N P Q S T Z : /


Pinyin Braille equivalent Braille ASCII
ye/ie E
yi/i I
wo/uo O
er R
wu/u U
an V
wei/ui W
yang/iang X
wai/uai Y
yuan/üan &
wa/ua =
ou (
ei !
yue/üe )
ying/ing *
yin/in <
yan/ian %
yong/iong ?
ya/ia $
wan/uan ]
you/iu \
ai [
wen/un 3 (i.e. lower 3)
weng/ong 4 (i.e. lower 4)
o/e 5 (i.e. lower 5)
ao 6 (i.e. lower 6)
wang/uang 7 (i.e. lower 7)
ang 8 (i.e. lower 8)
a 9 (i.e. lower 9)
en 0 (i.e. lower 0)
yao/iao >
yu/ü +
eng #
yun/ün _


tones 1 2 3 4 neutral
Pinyin marks ¯ ´ ˇ ` (none)
Braille (none)
Equivalent Braille ASCII A 1 (i.e. lower 1) ' 2 (i.e. lower 2) (none)


Symbols , ? ! : ; - · (interpunct) ( ) [/]
Braille ⠐⠆ ⠐⠄ ⠰⠂ ⠠⠤ ⠐⠐⠐ ⠠⠄ ⠰⠄ ⠠⠆ ⠰⠆
equivalent Braille ASCII "2 " "' ;1 3 ; ,- """ ,' ;' ,2 ;2


  • Spaces are added between words, rather than between syllables.
  • Tone is marked only in case of necessity. It is represented immediately after the rime.
  • The rimes of the syllables zi, ci, si, zhi, chi, shi, ri are not marked.
Simplified Chinese: 时间不早了!
Traditional Chinese: 時間不早了!
Pinyin: Shíjiān bù zǎo le!
Literally: time not early (perfective particle)!

Braille: ⠱⠂⠛⠩⠁⠀⠃⠥⠆⠀⠵⠖⠄⠀⠇⠢⠰⠂

Equivalent Braille ASCII: :1G%A BU2 Z6' L5;1


The onset pairs g/j, k/q, h/x each has the same dot pattern. This, however, leads to no ambiguity, because the onsets j, q, x are only followed by rimes which begin with i or ü while the onsets g, k, h are never followed by such rimes. Note that the syllable spelled in pinyin as ju is actually a combination of j and ü, and is represented as such (⠛⠬ for ju; ⠛⠥ for gu). Similarly, most rime pairs that have the same dot patterns do not cause ambiguity. There are only three pairs of syllables (mo/me, e/o, le/lo) which are ambiguous. None of them seems to cause real confusion.

Whilst the Braille assignment does not cause much ambiguity, the rule of tone omission does. In practice, most tones are omitted, which leads to a lot of confusion. Nevertheless, this practice is barely reproachable because the representation of tone by an extra Braille cell is quite uneconomical. Systematic indication of tones in the current system could lengthen the text by 50%.

Two-Cell Chinese Braille

A more delicate system known as Two-Cell Chinese Braille (simplified Chinese: 汉语双拼盲文; traditional Chinese: 漢語雙拼盲文; pinyin: Hànyǔ shuāngpīn mángwén) was designed in the 1970s. It encodes all the information (onset, rime and tone) of one syllable in two Braille cells, thus is at the same time unambiguous and economical. This new system is now used in parallel with the current system.

Initial and medial is coded in the first cell; final and tone is coded in the second cell.[1]

Initials (in first cell):

b ⠉ p ⠦ m ⠪ f ⠖
d ⠌ t ⠎ n ⠏ l ⠇ r ⠔
g/j ⠁ k/q ⠅ h/x ⠃
zh ⠉ ch ⠍ sh ⠋
z ⠙ c ⠝ s ⠛ 
y ⠒ w ⠢ yu ⠲

The zero initial consonant is represented by ⠾


i = dot 5 (⠐) u = dot 6 (⠠) ü = 5+6⠰
  • Initials that use dots 5+6 themselves cannot have medials.
  • i is used to distinguish between g/k/h and j/q/x; if i (dot 5) is present then it's j/q/x.

Vowels (in second cell):

a  ⠚ e/o  ⠒ ai  ⠛ ao ⠓ ei ⠌ ou ⠅ an ⠋ ang ⠙ en ⠁ eng ⠑

No vowel: ⠃

  • ⠒ is o after b/p/m/f, otherwise e. No vowel (? or no dots) is u after b/p/m/f.


  • Tone 1 (mā): add dot 3 to second cell: ⠄ unless the second cell already contains dot 3 (ei ⠌ and ou ⠅) in which case add dot 5 ⠐
  • Tone 2 (má): add dot 6 to second cell: ⠠
  • Tone 3 (mǎ): add dots 3 and 6 to second cell: ⠤ unless the second cell already contains dot 3 (ei ⠌ and ou ⠅) in which case add dots 5 and 6 (⠰)
  • Tone 4 (mà) and neutral: no change to second cell (note that there is ambiguity between tone 4 and neutral; this should not cause trouble in practice)

Special representations:

  • ér or èr: ⠔⠚, ěr: ⠔⠾
  • ⠔ as a suffix means erhua. ⠔⠤ is used as an erhua in mid-word.
  • shi on its own = ⠋, as a suffix it is ⠔ and elsewhere ⠋⠃
  • the sound that occurs in the first half of "ei" and the second half of "ye" is represented by⠐⠊
  • yo =⠈⠊
  • the exclamation 哦 (o) = ⠠⠊

Resolving common homophones:

  • tā: 他 (he) ⠎⠞, 她 (she) ⠈⠎⠶, 它 (it) ⠐⠎⠶ (i.e. precede "she" with dot 4, and "it" with dot 5)
  • zài: 在 (at) ⠙⠛, 再 (again) ⠈⠙⠛ (i.e. precede "again" with dot 4)
  • shì: 是 (is) by itself and as an ending is ⠋, 事 (thing) ⠋⠃
  • de: for 的 write ⠌ with spaces before and after; for 地 (adverbial particle) write ⠌⠒ with spaces before and after; for 得 write ⠌⠒ with no space before but with a space after.

Other combinations:

  • for -in, use medial i and ending "en"; for -ing, use i + eng
  • for -un, use u + en; u + eng gives -ong
  • for -n, use en

ong ⠠⠑ iong ⠰⠑

Digits: Use ⠼ (the standard Braille number sign) followed by 1=⠁ 2=⠃ 3=⠌ 4=⠙ 5=⠑ 6=⠋ 7=⠛ 8=⠓ 9=⠊ 0=⠚

Punctuation marks:

  • comma=⠐
  • stop=⠐⠆
  • question mark = ⠐⠄(dot 5, dot 3)
  • dunhao (、) ⠈
  • quotes ⠘
  • colon ⠤
  • semicolon ⠰
  • apostrophe ⠐⠐⠐
  • title quotes 《》 ⠠⠄ and ⠠
  • exclamation mark ⠰⠂

The reference adds some Chinese rhymes to help remember the above.


The China Library for the Blind (中国盲文图书馆) in Beijing has several thousand volumes, mostly published by the China Braille Press (中国盲文出版社).[2] The National Taiwan Library has a Braille room with a postal mail service and some electronic documents.[3]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

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