Taiwanese and the related Amoy Hokkien dialect are the most widely spoken Hokkien dialects. Hokkien, along with the related Teochew, is among the most widely spoken non-Mandarin Chinese languages overseas along with Cantonese, Hakka, and Shanghainese. However, most spoken and written Chinese language instruction is in standard Mandarin. Each Chinese language uses Chinese characters and has a set of rules for pronunciation based on the context of how each character is used. However, with the estimated eight thousand to fifty thousand Chinese characters that do exist, there are still many common colloquial terms where the language’s syntax for Chinese characters do not fit how they are spoken. Additionally, unique to each Chinese language exist coined Chinese characters that are only used in that language. In such situations, Romanization is a more feasible alternative to written Chinese characters because it helps preserve the spoken language including colloquial terms that cannot be expressed in written Chinese form.
The Handbook of Taiwanese Romanization focuses on the phonology of Taiwanese and the closely related Amoy Hokkien. It covers five Taiwanese Romanization methods used in available Taiwanese language resources for English, Japanese, and Chinese (Mandarin) speakers. This book is for native Taiwanese speakers who live overseas and are unfamiliar with Chinese characters but want to learn how to express their mother tongue through reading and writing. It is also a tool to aid native speakers in teaching their own children. This book focuses more on Taiwanese and Amoy Hokkien but provides a foundation in phonetics and tones that can be applied to other Hokkien dialects.