Daighi tongiong pingim

Daī-ghî tōng-iōng pīng-im (Taiwanese phonetic transcription system, abbr: DT; Chinese: 臺語通用拼音) is an orthography in the Latin alphabet for Taiwanese Hokkien based upon Tongyong Pinyin. It is able to use the Latin alphabet to indicate the proper variation of pitch with nine diacritic symbols.[1]


  Dental Alveolo-palatal Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless unaspiration     b d g -h/ ' ([ʔ])
aspiration     p t k  
voiced unaspiration     bh   gh  
Affricate voiceless unaspiration z zi        
aspiration c ci        
voiced unaspiration   r        
Fricative voiceless unaspiration s si        
aspiration           h
Nasal voiced unaspiration     m n ng  
Lateral voiced unaspiration       l    
  Front Central Back
Close i   u
Close-mid e   or(2)
Mid   or(1)  
Open-mid     o
Open a    

DT in its present form has 17 initials, 18 finals and 8 tones.

Tone number

Taiwanese is a tonal language, so the pitch (tone) of a spoken word affects its meaning, same as the written words. However, in non-tonal languages, a word's pitch constantly conveys emotion but often does not influence its meaning.[4] In Taiwanese, which has nine tones and two extra tones, neutral tone and nasal vowel.

DT tone number
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th Neutral Nasal
a à â ā(p/t/k/h) ă à ā a(p/t/k/h) á å aⁿ/ann

Tone definition

Schema of the tone sandhi rules in Taiwanese.

Tone marks

Tones are expressed by diacritics; checked syllables (i.e. those ending with glottal stops) are followed by the letter h. Where diacritics are not technically available, e.g. on some parts of the internet, tone alphabet may be used instead.

  1. a (1st tone; yinping)
  2. à (2nd tone; yingshang)
  3. a̠ (3rd tone; yinqu)
  4. ā (ptkh) (4th tone; yinru)
  5. ă (5th tone; yangping)
  6. ä (6th tone; yangshang)
  7. ā (7th tone; yangqu)
  8. a (ptkh) (8th tone; yangru)
  9. á (9th tone; high rising)
  10. å (neutral tone)
  11. aⁿ (ann) (nasal vowel)

Examples for these tones: ciūⁿ (elephant), bâ (leopard), bhè (horse), di (pig), zŭa (snake), āh (duck), lok (deer). And, a neutral tone, sometimes indicated by å(aj) in DT, has no specific contour; its pitch always depends on the tones of the preceding syllables. Taiwanese speakers refer to this tone as the "neutral tone" (Chinese: 輕聲).

Tone sandhi

Tone sandhi or chain shift by circulation, as the tones are encoded by appending and modifying spellings with attention to the rules of the DT system. The basic tone has no modification and tone mark. Generally speaking, the basic tone means the 7th tone (mid even tone; yangqu).[5][6]


A DT word, like an English word, can be formed by only one syllable or several syllables, with the two syllables being the general typicality. Each syllable in DT follows one of the six underlying patterns:[6]


The DT alphabet adopts the Latin alphabet of 19 letters, 4 digraphs, and 6 diacritics to express the basic sounds of Taiwanese:

dt capital letter A B Bh C D E G Gh H I K L M N Ng O Or P R S T U Z
dt lower case a b bh c d e g gh h i k l m n ng o or p r s t u z


bh, z, c, gh, h, r, g, k, l, m, n, ng, b, p, s, d, t

Note that unlike their typical interpretation in modern English language, bh and gh are voiced and unaspirated, whereas b, g, and d are plain unvoiced as in Hanyu Pinyin. p, k, and t are unvoiced and aspirated, corresponding closer to p, t, and k in English. It is inconsistent with the use of h's in the Legge romanization and the use of the diacritic in the International Phonetic Alphabet to signal consonantal aspiration.


The nasals m, n, and ng can be appended to any of the vowels and some of the diphthongs. In addition, m and ng can function as independent syllables by themselves.

The stops h, g, b and d can appear as the last letter in a syllable, in which case they are pronounced with no audible release. (The final h in DT stands for a glottal stop.)

Delimiting symbols

All syllables in each word are normally separated by the dash (-) mark. Generally, syllables before the dash which must undergo tone sandhi.

DT examples

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

DT English
Lēn-hâ-gōk sê-gāi rīn-kūan sūan-ghĕn

Dê 1 diău

Lāng-lăng seⁿ-låi zû-iŭ, zāi zūn-ghiăm gāh kuăn-lī siòng it-lip bīng-dìng. In hù-iù li-sîng gāh liōng-sim, lî-ciaⁿ ìng-gai i hiānn-dī gūan-hē ē zīng-sĭn hō-siōng dùi-dāi.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Greeting of Voyager Golden Record

DT English Audio file:
Voyager Golden Record
Tài-kong bīng-iù, lin hòr! Lin ziâ-bà bhē! Û-ĭng, dôr-lăi ghun-zia zē òr. Friends of space, how are you all! Have you eaten yet? Drop in on us if you have time. Taiwanese(Amoy; Min nan; Formosan) sound record of voyager 1


  1. ^ Wells,J.C.,"Orthographic diacritics and multilingual computing",Dept. of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London,UK,2001.[1].
  2. ^ IPA: Pulmonic Archived 2009-03-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ IPA: Vowels Archived 2009-03-13 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Charles Q. Choi,"Speaking in Tones", Scientific American Magazine,September 2007,2 Page(s).
  5. ^ Li, Hen-zng(李獻璋),"Introduction to Ho-gen hue(福建語法序說)",Minami-kaze Bookstore(南風書局), Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 1950. (in Min Nan Chinese and Japanese)
  6. ^ a b Dan, Hue-liong(陳輝龍),"Taiwanese(臺灣語法(全));Appendum: the Taiwanese auxiliary(附臺灣語助數詞)",Anonymous association publ.(無名會出版部), Taipei, Taiwan,July 1934. (in Min Nan Chinese and Japanese)

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