Bopomofo or Zhuyin Fuhao (注音符號)

I know a little bit of Spanish.  Just a wee little bit.  Enough to be dangerous.  Un poquito.  Muy poquito.

It really gets me in trouble, because after the initial Hola that spontaneously comes out (I’m from So Cal, after all :P), the opposite party usually gets all excited and starts sputtering out a bunch of Spanish to me.  J- started doing that today, and I was dutifully copying and pasting each line into Google Translate, trying to figure out what the heck he was saying.

Thank goodness the whole thing was over instant messaging, so I didn’t have to actually say anything.  I was complaining to E- about how J- wouldn’t let up, even after I wrote back in English, explaining that my Spanish really sucks, and I couldn’t understand anything.  I think J- is kind of like N-, who believes that I know a lot more German than I realize…  and just need more practice in stringing the words together.

Uh…  no.  I do realize that I DON’T know that much German (nor Spanish), so it’s not like I magically have all these foreign language skills in my head, just waiting for the right moment to flow off my lips.  If I don’t know it, I really don’t know it.  (But N- probably does have a point that I will never improve unless I start practicing though.  Üben, üben!)

Anyway, E- suddenly had the brilliant idea that I should write back to J- in pinyin, to give him a taste of not knowing what the other person was talking about.  But…  pinyin!?  The very word makes me shudder.  Ugh.  😦

Let me explain.

I’m from Taiwan.  That means we don’t use pinyin, which was promulgated by the People’s Republic of China.  We use Zhuyin Fuhao (注音符號), also known colloquially as bopomofo.  Come on, how can you not like something that has the word “mofo” in its name?  😉  LOL.

Bopomofo is the bomb.  Using 37 characters and four tone marks, it transcribes ALL possible sounds in Mandarin.  It’s the way we first learned how to read Chinese as kids.  The original Chinese phonetic symbol alphabet.

In fact, I can’t read most Chinese characters, but I can always sound out words using bopomofo.  It’s a lifesaver if you know Chinese by ear and can’t read or write.

E- is from Hong Kong and has never heard of bopomofo.  I guess it’s strictly a Taiwanese thing.

Google Translate doesn’t have pinyin its language options, so I didn’t bother using it with J-.  Besides, I don’t know how to write in pinyin anyway.  And good luck trying to find anything there for bopomofo.  But it was still nice to share the existence of bopomofo with E- and relive a blast from my past.  😉

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