Attachments :
Thomas Chan wrote (on June 20, 2001):
> I was wondering if anyone knows of any non-Chinese references
> (e.g., English, Japanese, other Western, etc) about WANG Zhao's
> \u738b\u7167 Guanhua Zimu \u5b98\u8a71\u5b57\u6bcd 'Mandarin letters'
> alphabet/syllabary invented in 1900 to write Mandarin Chinese (later
> adapted and expanded by LAO Naixuan \u52de\u4e43\u5ba3 for
> other Chinese languages).

Sorry, I could find absolutely nothing in my sources. I was surprised that
even Coulmas' Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems doesn't have
anything about this script.

However, I played a little bit with your sample, during a couple of
week-ends. My tentative idea is that the script must be quite similar in
principle to Bopomofo: it is an alphabet having letters for initial
consonants and for "finals" (vowel or diphthong, possibly followed by a
nasal consonant).

However, the arrangement of letters in a syllable seems inspired by Hangul,
in that the letters for consonant and final are placed side by side to
constitute square blocks that resemble Han characters.

I came to these conclusions by assuming that the underlined (or, rather,
side-lined) words are proper names: a convention that I have seen used also
in the Chinese script proper.

I have compared these words with the proper names that occur in the
indicated verses of gospel of Luke (see
by&searchtype=fetch&searchstring=Luke+3), and I convinced myself that I was
reading the following proper names: Annas, Caiaphas, Zacharias and Elias.

The names show some alterations that are not totally unexpected for
Mandarin: final "-s" is dropped for simplicity; "s"/"z" are not
distinguished; initial "a-" becomes "ya-".

Two other underlined words that occur often should be John and Jordan, but I
don't understand how those might have been transliterated. Especially, I
don't understand how they don't start by the same consonant.

See attached a GIF summarizing my assumptions, and my tentative value for
the 9 letters that I would have "deciphered".

Thomas, if you have a chart of the Guanhua Zimu alphabet, I am curious to
see if my "deciphering" is correct.