Bopomofo with diacritics

From: Gerrit Sangel (
Date: Wed Nov 19 2008 - 13:32:28 CST

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    Hello list,

    I am wondering if it is possible to write Bopomofo with tone marks on top
    (like in Pinyin)? I know, they are usually written after the syllable in
    horizontal writing, but I saw an example of a diacritic nonetheless and it is
    is a bit more convenient.

    In the Unicode book, it says only to use the Mandarin tone marks. The problem
    with them is that they are spacing characters, so e.g. I would write


    This now has three issues:

    1. If I don’t define a Chinese font, the tone mark is used from a latin font
    and doesn’t really look Chinese.
    2. This is too wide. Because the characters are by nature a bit wider than
    latin letters, the same syllable is wider than in Pinyin. Added to that, if I
    write the tone mark after the syllable, it get’s even longer. This is
    especially bad for vocabulary lists or something like this, where I don’t
    want to have such a wide cell for the reading. Putting the tone mark on top,
    would at least save one character.
    3. What do I do with vertical writing if I encode the characters like that? If
    doing so, the tone mark will not get at the right of the syllable, but under
    it. Does the application have to see that it is a Zhuyin syllable, check if
    it is written correctly and then display it correctly (which would mean, that
    it would need extra support for Zhuyin. I somehow guess that no application
    will support that)?

    I also used the combining diacritical marks for the spacing characters and put
    them on top of the bopomofo characters, but the results were a bit...
    unsatisfactory. But maybe this is the correct way and the fonts with which I
    tested it just didn’t support it?

    Can somebody help me with this?

    Gerrit Sangel

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