Foochow Romanized
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Foochow Romanized
Foochow Romanized
Hók-ci?-uâ Lò?-m?-cê, Bàng-uâ-cê
A sample of Foochow Romanized text
Bible in Foochow Romanized (Exodus), published by British and Foreign Bible Society in 1908
Latin alphabet (modified)
LanguagesFuzhou dialect of the Eastern Min language
CreatorMoses Clark White, Robert Samuel Maclay, Caleb Cook Baldwin, Robert Stewart
Time period
late 19th century - ?
Child systems
Hinghwa Romanized, Kienning Colloquial Romanized

Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; ) or Hók-ci?-uâ Lò?-m?-cê (Chinese: ), is a Latin alphabet for the Fuzhou dialect of Eastern Min adopted in the middle of the 19th century by Western missionaries. It had varied at different times, and became standardized in the 1890s. Foochow Romanized was mainly used inside of Church circles, and was taught in some Mission Schools in Fuzhou.[1] But unlike its counterpart Pe?h-?e-j? for Hokkien, even in its prime days Foochow Romanized was by no means universally understood by Christians.[2]


An English-Chinese Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect, 2nd Edition, published in 1905
Dictionary of the Foochow dialect, 3rd Edition, published in 1929
Hand-written note in Foochow Romanized, ca. 1910. It reads: "...You are our dwelling place. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. And we are thankful, because Jesus died for us, resurrected, and enabled us to live in the life full of abundance. He helps us conform to the image of the Lord, and be patient and serve Him with all our heart. He teaches us to willingly forgive people..."

After 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 Latin alphabets 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 [?], [ø], [?], and [y], respectively. This system is described at length in White's linguistic work The Chinese Language Spoken at Fuh Chau.

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 for the plosive consonants, where the spiritus lenis ⟨?⟩ of the aspirated initials was removed and the letters ⟨b⟩, ⟨d⟩ and ⟨g⟩ substituted for [p] [t] and [k]. In the aspect of vowels, ⟨è⟩, ⟨ë⟩, ⟨ò⟩ and ⟨ü⟩ were replaced by ⟨a?⟩, ⟨e?⟩, ⟨o?⟩ and ⟨?⟩. Since the diacritical marks were all shifted to underneath the vowels, this left room above the vowels which was occupied by the newly introduced tonal marks. Thus Foochow Romanized avoids the potentially awkward diacritic stacking seen for instance in the Vietnamese script, where tone and vowel quality marks both sit above the vowel.


The sample characters are taken from the Qi Lin Bayin, a renowned phonology book about the Fuzhou dialect written in the Qing Dynasty. The pronunciations are recorded in standard IPA symbols.


BUC Sample character Pronunciation
b ? /p/
p ? /p?/
m ? /m/
d ? /t/
t ? /t?/
n ? /n/
l ? /l/
g ? /k/
k ? /k?/
ng ? /?/
h ? /h/
c ? /ts/
ch ? /ts?/
s ? /s/
None ? Null Initial


Finals without codas

BUC Sample character Traditional pronunciation Modern pronunciation
a ? /a/ /a/
ia ? /ia/ /ia/
ua ? /ua/ /ua/
a? ? /?/ /e/ or /a/
ie ? /ie/ /ie/
o? ? /?/ /o/ or /?/
io ? /io/ /yo/
uo ? /uo/ /uo/
e? / ae? ? /ø/ or /aø/ /ø/ or /?/
au ? /au/ /au/
eu / aiu ? /eu/ or /aiu/ /eu/ or /au/
ieu ? /ieu/ /iu/
iu / eu ? /iu/ or /eu/ /iu/
oi / o?i ? /oi/ or /?i/ /øy/ or /?y/
ai ? /ai/ /ai/
uai ? /uai/ /uai/
uoi ? /uoi/ /ui/
ui / oi ? /ui/ or /oi/ /ui/
i / e ? /i/ or /ei/ /i/ or /?i/
u / o ? /u/ or /ou/ /u/ or /?u/
? / e ? /y/ or /øy/ /y/ or /oey/

Finals with coda [?]

BUC Traditional pronunciation Modern pronunciation
ah /a?/ /a?/
iah /ia?/ /ia?/
uah /ua?/ /ua?/
a?h // /e?/
ieh /ie?/ /ie?/
o?h // /o?/ or //
ioh /io?/ /yo?/
uoh /uo?/ /uo?/
e?h /ø?/ /ø?/

Finals with codas [-?] and [-k]

BUC Sample character Traditional pronunciation Modern pronunciation
ang ? /a?/ /a?/
iang ? /ia?/ /ia?/
uang ? /ua?/ /ua?/
ieng ? /ie?/ /ie?/
iong ? /io?/ /yo?/
uong ? /uo?/ /uo?/
ing / eng ? /i?/ or /ei?/ /i?/ or /?i?/
ung / ong ? /u?/ or /ou?/ /u?/ or /?u?/
?ng / eng ? /y?/ or /øy?/ /y?/ or /oey?/
eng / aing ? /ei?/ or /ai?/ /ei?/ or /ai?/
ong / aung ? /ou?/ or /au?/ /ou?/ or /?u?/
e?ng / ae?ng ? /ø?/ or /aø?/ /øy?/ or /?y?/


Name Tone numeral BUC symbol Example
Shàngpíng (, BUC: Siông-bìng) 55 ? G?ng
Sh?ngsh?ng (, BUC: Si?ng-si?ng) 33 ? G?ng
Shàngqù (, BUC: Siông-ké) 213 ? Góng
Shàngrù (, BUC: Siông-?k) 24 ? Gók
Xiàpíng (, BUC: Hâ-bìng) 53 ? Gùng
Xiàqù (, BUC: Hâ-ké) 242 ? Gông
Xiàrù (, BUC: Hâ-?k) 5 ? G?k

Note that Foochow Romanized uses the breve, not the caron (?), to indicate Y?npíng and Yángrù tones of Fuzhou dialect.

Sample text

Foochow Romanized Chinese characters (traditional) English Translation Audio File
Báe?k-h?ng gâe?ng N?k-tàu ? The North Wind and the Sun About this soundlisten
Ô sh huòi, Báe?k-h?ng gâe?ng N?k-tàu du?h h? dó?i c?ng, káng diê-nè?ng bu?ng-sê duâi. ,,? Once upon a time, the North Wind and the Sun were disputing which was stronger. About this soundlisten
C?ng lì c?ng kó? mò? su? iàng. They disputed on and on without reaching a conclusion. About this soundlisten
Ci? sèng-hâiu, duô l ô sh ciéh nè?ng giàng l, s?ng l sêng du?h sh iông gâu-gâu gì duâi-?. ,, Just at that moment, there was a man walking along the road, wearing a very heavy coat. About this soundlisten
? lâng ciéh g?ng h, diê-nè?ng ô bu?ng-sê s?ng gáe? c? ciéh nè?ng gâe?ng duâi-? táung lâi gó?, cêu sáung diê-nè?ng bu?ng-sê duâi. ,?, The two agreed that who first succeeded in making this man take his coat off should be considered stronger. About this soundlisten
D?ng n?, Báe?k-h?ng cêu s?i l?k s?-miâng dék chu?i, bók-guó ? mu?ng chu?i dék lê-hâi, c? ciéh l giàng-duô gì nè?ng cêu ci?ng h? iông duâi-? mu?ng b?u mu?ng g?ng gó?. ,,,? Then, the North Wind exerted all his strength to blow, but the harder he blew, the tighter that walking man wrapped his coat. About this soundlisten
Gáu mu?i-hâiu, Báe?k-h?ng mò? bâing-huák, cêu c?ng-ku?ng láe?k gó?. ,, At last, the North Wind was at his wits' end, so he gave up. About this soundlisten
Guó nék-òng, N?k-tàu chók lì. , After a while, the Sun came out. About this soundlisten
I?k-p-p s?i s?i l?k sh pu?h, h? ciéh l giàng-duô gì nè?ng chék-káik cêu ci?ng h? iông duâi-? táung lh lì. ,? He shined out forcibly with a sweltering heat, and immediately that walking man took off his coat. About this soundlisten
C?-hâ Báe?k-h?ng cêu nâ diông sìng-nêng, lâng gá nè?ng di?-sié, gó sê N?k-tàu gì bu?ng-sê duâi. ,, And so the North Wind had no choice but to confess that the Sun was stronger of the two. About this soundlisten




External links

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