Phonetic Annotation - Legend

Phonetic annotation is used on this website to offer an alternative description of pronunciations besides Quốc Ngữ. While learning Chữ nôm you can use this method to record the pronunciation of a character without immediately revealing it as Quốc ngữ would do. That way you can put it directly on a flash card without having to cover the pronunciation while learning it.

A brief explanation

A syllable is split into four components: initial, nucleus, final, tone. For example thuyền is split into: TH, UYÊ, N, and the huyền tone. For each component you can lookup the corresponding shape in the table below.


  • Any character can be used as an initial symbol. The character used stands for the sound that it normally has, e.g. 又 has the pronunciation hựu, therefore it stands for initial sound h
  • The initials shown here are just examples and not obligatory.
  • The finals are all numeric characters and stand for the final sound they have in Chữ hán, e.g. has the Chữ hán pronunciation tam, therefore it stands for final sound m
  • There are no symbols for the finals nh and ch. Instead you use symbols for ng and c.
  • Words ending in anh, ách or ạch are transcribed as if they were written ơng, ớc or ợc
  • The tone marks are the same as in Quốc ngữ, except that the "dot below" is written above instead
  • The little loop on some vowels denote a closed articulation (e.g. , , )
  • The horizontal bar at the top of some vowels denote a gliding [w] sound, as in khoa, xuân

Font download

For using annotation offline, you can download one of these font file:

  • Gothic/Sans-serif version (e.g. ̃)
  • Brushed version (e.g. ̃)


    buýtbóc卜︁ uy buy nhất一︁ buýt一︁

    kem己︁ e ke tam三︁ kem己︁三︁

    bơmbóc卜︁ ơ tam三︁ bơm卜︁三︁


    Choose a deck to practice the symbols.

  • Vowels I
  • Vowels II
  • Tones
  • Consonants I
  • Consonants II
  • Consonants III
  • Consonants IV


    A E Ia O Ua Ưa Ă
    Ơ Ê I Ô U Ư Â
    Oa Ue Uya


    N千︁thiên M三︁tam Nh/Ng〇︁linh U/O九︁cửu
    T一︁nhất P十︁thập C/Ch六︁lục I/Y二︁nhi


    ́sắc ̀huyền ̉hỏi
    ̃ngã ̇nặng

    Hide this section Initials

    Any unambiguous character can be used for initials.

    The following list is just a suggestion.

    - 乙︁ ắt B/P 卜︁ bóc C 己︁ kỷ Ch 匕︁ chuỷ Đ 大︁ đại D 廴︁ dẫn
    Ph 乁︁ phiết Gh 几︁ ghế Gi 之︁ H 又︁ hựu Kh 厶︁ khư L 立︁ lập
    M 木︁ mộc N 乃︁ nải Ng 乂︁ nghệ Nh 人︁ nhân R 了︁ riêu S 彡︁ sam
    T 夕︁ tịch Th 寸︁ thốn Tr 夂︁ truy V 习︁ X 彳︁ xích

    Test the font

    You can test the brushed font here.
    • Type ! directly in front of each word to start annotation symbols, e.g. !hay.
    • Vowels are "a, e, i, o, u, y, q", use y for ư and q for ă.
    • Use upper case letters "A, E, I, O, U, Y, Q" for closed vowels (those with a loop).
    • Tone marks are typed with numbers (1=sắc, 2=hỏi, 3=ngã, 4=huyền, 5=nặng) or uppercase telex letters (S, F, R, X, J).
    • Tone marks must be typed directly after the vowel, e.g. !ha3i not !hai3.
    • Words with a u/o glide are written with w, e.g. !khwa for khoa.
    • The consonant g in gì and gi in giá is written with j or z, e.g. !zao for giao.
    • The consonant đ is written dd or dh.
    • You can also download this font.