[by Prof. Liim Keahioong]
Explanation on Concise Atonal Spelling 
and TMSS  Dictionary
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Concise  Atonal  Spelling (Obscure Spelling)
     "Atonal  Spelling"  is  the  spelling  that  is   written  up  only  by  sound  of  word.    It  is  used  in  case  you  cannot  tell  the  exact  tone,  or  when  you  feel  the  definite  tone  is  not  neccesary.     A  sound  is  constructed  with  a  vowel  and  a  consonant.    Consonants  of  Taiwanese  voice  are  as  follows:
(Composite) B C G H J K L M N P S T Z V
Basic csn. b c g h j k l m n p s t z -
Fricative c. - ch - - - kh - - - ph - th zh -
Nasal csn. - cv gv hv - kv - - - pv sv tv zv v
Fr.-Nasal c. - chv - - - khv - - - phv - thv zhv -
Here, "Composite" Consonant Characters" are used for easy finding in a set of vocabularies such as in the present dictionary.    Atonal spelling constructed with above "composite consonants" are generally called as "Concise Atonal Spelling" or "Obscure Spelling".
   Atonal  vowels are  listed  below:
Simple vowel a - - e i - - - - - - o - - - u
Complex v. - ai au - - - ia - iau io iu - oa oai oe ui
Open stop ah aih auh eh ih - iah - iauh ioh iuh oh oah oaih oeh uih
Rear Nasal v. am an ang eng im in iang ien - iong - ong oan - - un
Stop ap at ak ek ip it iak iet - iok - og oat - - ut
      Vowels  listed  above,  may  or  not  preceded  by  a  consonant,  is  known  as   "Sound  Proper".    An  atonal  spelling  of  a  word  is  constructed  with  syllables  of  sound proper.    Here, no differenciation is made for upper and lower stops.    For those entries of this dictionary, lower stops are noticed with an underline, i.e., ~h(=~q), ~p(=~b), ~t(=~d), and ~k(=~g).

Dictionary Arrangement
        In  this  dictionary,  the  ordinary  consonent,  the  fricative  consonent  and  the  nasal consonent  are  arranged  in  the  same  location  as represented by the "Composite" Consonant for  easy  search.    Thus, "ta", "tha", "tVa" and  "thVa"  are  given with the "catch word" of  "Ta".     This  is  because  Western  people  can  seldom  differentiate  consonents  of  these  four  categories.   For the same reason,  "o"  and  "o"  are  given  samely  with "O". Differentiation is, however,  made in the part of TMSS.    Lower stops are arranged at the same place of upper stops.    This is because there are people in some regions cannot differentiate well in their mind those two kinds of stops.
      It should be emphasized that dictionary entries are for searching the word only.   Legal spelling and pronuntiation is in the followed TMSS word.    The former is a simpllified writing of the given word expressing a partial writing up of what you think in mind.   A person with a good preparation on TMSS may sometimes feel difficult to understand the meaning from such a simplified spelling, he has to go to the following TMSS word and think about the meaning..
Special Notice on Spelling in MLT/TMSS and MLT without "o"
        In TMSS words, the followings are observed:  (1)  The character  "o"  is specially invented for helping readers to pronounce the character  "o"  with a sound different from the normal vowel [o] in English "program", '"sorry" or "story".  In Southern part of Taiwan, "o'' is pronounced somewhat like European [ø] or the last sound of English "teacher".    In Taiwanese, a dissyllable word which has "o" to be pronounced as [o],  rarely has a corresponding word of the same spelling where "o" is pronounced as [o], and vice versa.  For instant, the word "olor" is oly pronounced as [olor] and no such word with pronunciation of [olor], [olor], or [olor] exists.   In this connection, the phonetic character "o" is mostly substituted with the normal character of "o" in documents of MLT/TMSS.
      (2)  The spelling with "oe" means that the word may be pronounced as either [oe] or [e].    In MLT documents it is substituted with spelling "oe" for convenience.    The judgement is up to the reader.
      (3)  The symbol of stressed sound (+) shows that the preceding word is stressed to show  it's original sence.   This makes the followed word becomes down-toned weak sound.   For instant, the word "hiefn+khuy"  is pronounced as [hiefn.khuix] i.e. { hienkui }  in phonetogram.
      (4)  The hyphen (-) which binds two words into one, makes the preceding word be pronounced with or without tone-change.    The selection of whether the last tone of the preceding word is to be changed in regular way is up to the speaker at differing situations.
      (5)  The separator ( ' ) is used to separate two letters fro different sylables otherwise they might form a single syllable.   For instance, the spelling [boafnafn] could be either [boaf'nafn] or [boafn'afn], the latter correspond to "good night" in English.   Another example is [khoat'ham] which may be misread as [khoa'tham].  In many popular cases, however, no confusion may arise by omitting the separater.   Examples are [Taioaan], [cidee], [kaoiok], etc. which can never be read as [Ta'io'aan], [ci'dee], [ka'oi'ok], etc.    In ordinary MLT sentences, the separator may be inserted or omitted at author's convenience.   Whenever the reader is accustomed with that word, and no other words of similar spelling can be recalled, the separator may be omitted for easy writing.

TMSS Dictionary with Concise Atonal Spelling      by Professor Liim K. H.