Transcription Guidelines for MPS II

  1. The initials b, d, g, j(i), j, tz are voiceless and unaspirated; whereas p, t, k, ch(i), ch, ts are voiceless and aspirated.
  2. Palatals and Retroflexes are both represented by j, ch, and sh. Since Palatals can only be used with Spread Finals (i.e., the vowels i or iu or any compound final that begins with i or iu as on-glides), the symbol i always follows j, ch, and sh in the transliteration. On the other hand, Retroflexes never occur with Spread Finals, so the symbol i is never used after j, ch, and sh. Hence there is no confusion between these two series of Initials.
  3. The Single Final ih that follows Retroflexes is transliterated as , e.g., jr̄ (知), chŕ (持), shř (始), r̀ (日). The ih that follows Dentals is transliterated as z, e.g., tz̄ (資), tsź (慈), sz̀ (四).
  4. The Single Final ih is transliterated as r or z. But when it occurs after the Initials ㄖ or ㄗ, only one r or zi is used since the initial symbol already contains r or z. For example, 日 is spelled as but not as rr̀ and 子 as tž not tzž.
  5. Although the Retroflex Final ㄦ is transliterated as er, e.g., er (兒), retroflexion of other Finals only requires one r to be added to the Finals that undergo retroflexion, e.g., huār (花兒), yer (葉兒), gǒur (狗兒).
  6. The Compound Final ㄨㄥ occurring after an Initial is transliterated as -ung.
  7. When the Single Finals ㄧ, ㄨ, ㄩ are used in isolation, they are transliterated as yi, wu, yu. When Compound Finals that have ㄧ, ㄨ, and ㄩ as on-glides are used in isolation, the on-glides ㄧ, ㄨ, and ㄩ are spelled as y, w and yu. For details, see the following tables:
    ㄧㄚ ㄧㄛ ㄧㄝ ㄧㄞ ㄧㄠ ㄧㄡ ㄧㄢ ㄧㄣ ㄧㄤ ㄧㄥ
    yi ya yo ye yai yau you yan yin yang ying
    ㄨㄚ ㄨㄛ ㄨㄞ ㄨㄟ ㄨㄢ ㄨㄣ ㄨㄤ ㄨㄥ
    wu wa wo wai wei wan wen wang weng
    ㄩㄝ ㄩㄢ ㄩㄣ ㄩㄥ
    yu yue yuan yun yung
  8. When ㄝ is used alone, it can be written as to distinguish it from ㄜ. When it is used with on-glides i or iu, it is written as e.
  9. Tone symbols are essentially the same as those used in MPS I, i.e.,  ̄ for the First Tone,  ́ for the Second Tone,  ̌ for the Third Tone and  ̀ for the Fourth Tone. Tone symbols are placed on the nucleus vowel of the Final. The Neutral Tone is left unmarked, e.g., 偉大中華,錦繡的何山 (wěi dà de zhōng huá, jǐn xiù de hé shān).
  10. When compound words are transliterated, hyphens can be used to separate the component words to avoid possible confusions in the syllabification, e.g., compare Shi-an 西安 with shian 仙 or fa-nan 發難 with fan-an 翻案.
  11. Chinese proper nouns are transliterated in accordance with the Chinese convention of word order, namely, with family names preceding given names. When the given name contains more than one word, a hyphen is used between the words, e.g., Chen Huai-sheng, Yu You-ren.
  12. The first symbol of proper nouns, such as names of people and places, should be capitalized. For the sake of convenience, proper names can be transliterated without tone marks in ordinary use.
This text on Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II (MPS II), Taiwan's former official romanization system for Mandarin Chinese, is from a July 1986 book by Taiwan's Ministry of Education.