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Encyclopedia > Modern Taiwanese Language

Modern Taiwanese Language (MTL) is an orthography in the Latin alphabet for the Taiwanese language based on the Taiwanese Modern Spelling System (TMSS), pioneered by Professor Liim Keahioong in 1943. TMSS has origins in the Pe̍h-ōe-jī orthography created and introduced to Taiwan by Presbyterian missionaries in the 19th century. MTL is able to use the ASCII character set to indicate the proper variation of pitch without subsidiary scripts or diacretic symbols. The orthography of a language is the set of symbols (glyphs and diacritics) used to write a language, as well as the set of rules describing how to write these glyphs correctly, including spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. ... The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today. ... See alternative meanings for other possible definitions. ... Technical note: Due to technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this article. ... Presbyterianism is part of the Reformed churches family of denominations of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. ... A missionary is a propagator of religion, often an evangelist or other representative of a religious community who works among those outside of that community. ... For other uses, see ASCII (disambiguation). ...


The current system

In MTL, the list of letters is:

a b c ch e f g h i j k kh l m n ng Q o p ph q r s t th u v y z zh

The nasal symbol is written as v (POJ: ).


  • Bilabial: p, ph, m, b
  • Alveolar: t, th, n, l
  • Velar: k, kh, h, g
  • Palatal: c, ch, s, j
  • Dental: z, zh, s, j


  • Simple: a, i, u, e, o, Q, m, ng
  • Compound: ai, au, ia, iu, iQ, iau, ui, oa, oe, Qe, oai
  • Special High Tone (1st tone): y, w
  • Special Shouting-Out Tone (2nd tone): ae, ie, uo, ea, ao
  • Front Nasal: v
  • Rear Nasal: m, n, ng

The nasals m, n, and ng can be appended to any of the vowels and some of the diphthongs. In addition, m and ng can function as independent syllables by themselves.

The stops h/q, k/g, p/b and t/d can appear as the last letter in a syllable, in which case they are pronounced as unreleased stops. (The finals h and q stand for a glottal stop of high and low tone, respectively.) An unreleased stop or plosive is a plosive consonant without an audible release burst. ...


Tones are encoded by appending and modifying spellings with attention to the rules of the MTL system.

Examples for the seven tones:

  • 1 (High): ty (豬, pig)
  • 2 (Shouting-out): bea (馬, horse)
  • 3 (Low-falling): pax (豹, leopard)
  • 4 (Low stop): aq (鴨, duck)
  • 5 (Curving upward): zoaa (蛇, snake)
  • 7 (Basic): chviu (象, elephant)
  • 8 (High stop): lok (鹿, deer)

Special Symbols

MTL Example

An audio sample of Taiwanese for the sentence meaning, "Today that girl came to my house to see me."

  • "Kin'afjit hit'ee zabor gyn'ar laai goarn taw khvoax goar."
  • POJ: "Kin-á-jit hit-ê cha-bó· gín-á lâi góan tau khòaⁿ góa."

History of MTL



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