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Pha?k-fa-s? is an orthography similar to Pe?h-?e-j? and used to write Hakka, a variety of Chinese. Hakka is a whole branch of Chinese, and Hakka dialects are not necessarily mutually intelligible with each other, considering the large geographical region. This article discusses a specific variety of Hakka. The orthography was invented by the Presbyterian church in the 19th century. The Hakka New Testament published in 1924 is written in this system.

Writing system

Pha?k-fa-s? uses a modified Latin alphabet (an additional trema ? for the close central unrounded vowel /?/) and some diacritics for tones. A single hyphen is added to indicate a compound.


Shortly after the missionaries of the Basel Missionary Society, Reverend Theodore Hamberg and Rudolf Lechler arrived in China in 1847, Hamberg and his colleagues began compiling the Hakka to English to Hakka to German dictionaries. Lechler was initially allocated the evangelizing work amongst the Shantou population, but because of opposition from the local authorities there, the Shantou mission was abandoned and he joined Hamberg in the mission work with the Hakka in 1852. After Hamberg died unexpectedly in 1854, Lechler continued with the dictionary work together with fellow missionary colleagues for over fifty years. During that time, Reverend Charles Piton also made several revisions to the dictionary.[1]

The first publication of Romanized Hakka in Pha?k-fa-s? was done by Donald MacIver (1852-1910) in 1905 at Shantou and was titled A Chinese-English dictionary : Hakka-dialect, as spoken in Kwang-tung province. He noted that some of the content was based on the dictionaries compiled by the previous Basel missionaries. However, the latter had used the Lepsius romanization, which was different from Pha?k-fa-s?.[2] MacIver made the changes to the dictionary, but he realised that Hakka vocabulary written by the Basel missionaries belonged to the Hakka dialects of southwestern Guangdong Province: Haifeng County, Lufeng County, Jiexi County and Wuhua County. On the other hand, MacIver's Hakka vocabulary was extracted from the northeastern part of Guangdong Province such as Jiaying Prefecture (now Meizhou).

Current system


Capital letters A Ch Chh E F H I K Kh L M N Ng O P Ph S T Th U ? V Y
Lowercase letters a ch chh e f h i k kh l m n ng o p ph s t th u ? v y
Letter names a chi chhi e fi hi i ki khi li mi ni ngi o pi phi si ti thi u ? vi yi


Pha?k-fa-s? Extended bopomofo IPA Examples
p ? p pak-kûng
ph ? p? pha?k-fa
m ? m Mî-koet
f ? f fî-kî
v ? ? vùn-s?
t ? t tú-s
th ? t? thai-ngìn
n ? n nài-sâ
l ? l lî-mà
k ? k kâ-yèn
kh ? k? khiung-ha
ng(i) ? ?/? ngiù-ngiuk
h ? h heu-sâng
ch(i) ?/? ts/t? cho-tet
chh(i) ?/? ts?/t chhâ-é
s(i) ?/? s/? se-ngìn


Pha?k-fa-s? Extended bopomofo IPA
a ? a
i ? i
u ? u
e ? e
o ? o
? ? ?
er ? ?/?
-p ? p?
-t ? t?
-k ? k?

Tone marks

Listed below are tone marks of Pha?k-fa-s? with tone value of Sixian and Hailu dialects of Taiwanese Hakka:[3]

Chinese Tone Name Tone Mark Diacritics Examples Sixian Hailu
y?npíng circumflex ? fû 24 53
yángpíng grave accent ? fù 11 55
sh?ngsh?ng acute accent ? fú 31 24
y?nqù (no mark) ? fu 55 11
yángqù ring ? f? 33
y?nrù (no mark) ? fuk 2 5
yángrù vertical line ? fu?k 5 2

Comparison of Chinese and Taiwanese Pha?k-fa-s?

Comparisons were made between The Hakka New Testament (1924) and the Hakka Bible: Today's Taiwan Hakka Version (2012). The former was published in Shantou, China, while the latter was published in Taiwan.


Below are rules for switching between Chinese and Taiwanese Pha?k-fa-s?:[4]

Comparison of Initials
Rules Character Chinese PFS Taiwanese PFS
ny->ng ? nyên ngièn
sh->s ? shìn s?n
ts->ch ? tsò cho
tsh->chh ? tsh chh?
kw->k ? kwong kông

Tone marks

The table below compares the tone marks of Chinese Pha?k-fa-s?, Taiwanese Pha?k-fa-s?, and Pe?h-?e-j? of Southern Min.

Comparison of Tone Marks of Pha?k-fa-s? and Pe?h-?e-j?
Tone Name Chinese PFS Taiwanese PFS Taiwanese POJ
a â a
â à â
á á á
à a à
(å) ?
ap ap ap
a?p a?p a?p


  1. Taiwanese Hakka does not differentiate between (y?nsh?ng) and (yángsh?ng). Certain dialects (but not the standard) of Taiwanese Hokkien does have yángsh?ng (?).
  2. Sixian Hakka does not differentiate between (y?nqù) and (yángqù), but Hailu does have yángqù (å).

See also


External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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