Chinese Braille
Script type
Print basis
Pinyin, zhuyin
LanguagesStandard Mandarin
Related scripts
Parent systems
Night writing
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Mainland Chinese Braille
Traditional Chinese現行盲文
Simplified Chinese现行盲文
Literal meaningCurrent Braille
A sample Mainland Chinese Braille text in Xujiahui Park, Shanghai. Most of the tones are omitted except for in a few places that may cause confusion.
A sample Mainland Chinese Braille text in Xujiahui Park, Shanghai. Most of the tones are omitted except for in a few places that may cause confusion.

(Mainland) Chinese Braille is a braille script used for Standard Mandarin in China.[1] Consonants and basic finals conform to international braille, but additional finals form a semi-syllabary, as in zhuyin (bopomofo). Each syllable is written with up to three Braille cells, representing the initial, final, and tone, respectively. In practice tone is generally omitted as it is in pinyin.

Braille charts

Traditional Chinese Braille is as follows:[2][3]

Initials

Chinese Braille initials generally follow the pinyin assignments of international braille. However, j, q, x are replaced with g, k, h, as the difference is predictable from the final. (This reflects the historical change of g, k, h (and also z, c, s) to j, q, x before i and ü.) The digraphs ch, sh, zh are assigned to (its pronunciation in Russian Braille), (a common pronunciation in international braille), and . R is assigned to , reflecting the old Wade-Giles transcription of ⟨j⟩. ( is used for the final er, the pronunciation of the name of that letter in English Braille.)

Pinyin b p m f d t n l g/j k/q h/x zh ch sh r z c s
Bopomofo


Braille

Finals

The finals approximate international values for several of the basic vowels ( e (o), yi, wo, wu, , you, ei), but then necessarily diverge. However, there are a few parallels with other braille alphabets: er and wai are pronounced like the names of those letters in English braille; ye, ya, and you are pronounced like those letters in Russian Braille. yuan, yue, yin, are similar to the old French pronunciations oin, ieu, in. For the most part, however, Chinese Braille finals do not obviously derive from previous conventions.

The pinyin final -i is only written where it corresponds to yi. Otherwise* (in ci zi si ri chi zhi shi) no final is written, a convention also found in zhuyin. The final -e is not written in de, a common grammatical particle written with several different characters in print.[4]

Pinyin Bopomofo Braille
a
e/o

ai
ei
ao
ou
an
en
ang
eng
Pinyin Bopomofo Braille
yi, -i*
ya, -ia ㄧㄚ
ye, -ie ㄧㄝ
yao, -iao ㄧㄠ
you, -iu ㄧㄡ
yan, -ian ㄧㄢ
yang, -iang ㄧㄤ
yin, -in ㄧㄣ
ying, -ing ㄧㄥ
Pinyin Bopomofo Braille
wu, -u
wa, -ua ㄨㄚ
wo, -uo ㄨㄛ
wai, -uai ㄨㄞ
wei, -ui ㄨㄟ
wan, -uan ㄨㄢ
wen, -un ㄨㄣ
wang, -uang ㄨㄤ
weng, -ong ㄨㄥ
Pinyin Bopomofo Braille
yu, -ü
yue, -üe ㄩㄝ
yuan, -üan ㄩㄢ
yun, -ün ㄩㄣ
yong, -iong ㄩㄥ
er

Tones

Tone is marked sparingly.

Tone 1 2 3 4 neutral
Pinyin ¯ ´ ˇ ` (none)
Zhuyin (none) ˊ ˇ ˋ ˙
Braille
(none)

Punctuation

Chinese Braille punctuation approximates the form of international braille punctuation, but several spread the corresponding dots across two cells rather than one. For example, the period is , which is the same pattern as the international single-cell norm of .

Print - · and
Chinese Braille
French equivalent

Numbers

A braille cell ⠼ called number sign (simplified Chinese: 数号; traditional Chinese: 數號; pinyin: shùhào) is needed when representing numbers.

Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Braille

Examples:

0, 1, 2, … 9,
10, 11, 12, … 19, … 29, … 99,
100, 256, 1024, 1048576.

Rules

Two examples, the first with full tone marking, the second with tone for disambiguation only:

时间不早了! (時間不早了!)
⠱⠂⠛⠩⠁⠀⠃⠥⠆⠀⠵⠖⠄⠀⠇⠢⠰⠂
时间 了!
Shíjiān zǎo le!
time not early PFV
草地上的花是风吹开的。
⠉⠖⠄⠙⠊⠆⠀⠱⠦⠀⠙⠀⠓⠿⠁⠀⠱⠆⠀⠋⠼⠀⠟⠺⠅⠪⠀⠙⠐⠆
草地 吹开 的。
cǎodì shang de huā shi feng chuikai de.
grass above which flower is wind [a] by

Ambiguity

Chinese Braille has the same low level of ambiguity that pinyin does. In practice, tone is omitted 95% of the time, which leads to a space saving of a third. Tone is also omitted in pinyin military telegraphy, and causes little confusion in context.

The initial pairs g/j, k/q, h/x are distinguished by the final: initials j, q, x are followed by the vowels i or ü, while the initials g, k, h are followed by other vowels. This reflects the historical derivation of j, q, x from g, k, h before i and ü,[5] and parallels the dual pronunciations of c and g in Spanish and Italian. In pinyin, the redundancy is resolved in the other direction, with the diaeresis omitted from ü after j, q, x. Thus braille ⟨gü⟩ is equivalent to pinyin ju:

gu,
ju.

Usage

The China Library for the Blind (Chinese: 中国盲文图书馆) in Beijing has several thousand volumes, mostly published by the China Braille Press (Chinese: 中国盲文出版社).[6] The National Taiwan Library has a Braille room with a postal mail service and some electronic documents.[7][irrelevant citation]

See also

A sample of Moon type in various languages including Ningbo Chinese.
A sample of Moon type in various languages including Ningbo Chinese.

Notes

  1. ^ The meaning of this metaphorical sentence should be “Flowers on the grasslands bloom because of the blowing wind.”

References

  1. ^ Pace Unesco (2013), a different alphabet is used in Taiwan, Taiwanese Braille.
  2. ^ Vivian Aldridge, 2000 [2002] How is Chinese written in braille?
  3. ^ GB/T 15720-2008, 中国盲文 (Chinese Braille)
  4. ^ UNESCO (2013) World Braille Usage, 3rd edition.
    ( is mistakenly said to be a contraction of di in the charts, but is confirmed as de in the sample.)
  5. ^ They also derive from z, c, s before i or ü, and this is the identity reflected in Taiwanese braille.
  6. ^ Fruchterman, Jim (2008-10-08). "Beneblog: Technology Meets Society: China Braille Press". Benetech.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  7. ^ "Delivery of Library Materials". Southernlibrarianship.icaap.org. Retrieved 2012-08-13.

Further reading