Just what the question asks.

I’ll note that Chinese does use it extensively with pinyin when teaching Chinese to western foreigners. However I’m referring to using in materials by and for native speakers. Japanese uses furigana extensively in materials written for younger audiences.

It looks like there is some use of it in Chinese for Bopomofo.

  • 1
    Zhuyin fuhao (bopomofo) is used commonly in Taiwan as ruby/furigana for learning purposes, but it's not widespread in regular text, even when rare or difficult-to-read characters are used.
    – jogloran
    May 9, 2021 at 19:21
  • 1
    Do harakat (special diacritics used in Arabic to indicate exact pronunciation, most common in religious texts and materials for learners/younger audiences) count? Various other Semitic languages have their own equivalents.
    – Draconis
    May 9, 2021 at 19:59
  • 1
    Pinyin isn’t normally used in regular texts in Chinese, but it’s not limited to just teaching either – it’s very commonly found on street signs, on product packaging, etc. Unlike furigana, however, it’s commonly used complementarily to characters, e.g., when the company byline on some packaging is given only in Pinyin and not in characters. May 9, 2021 at 21:41
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: What is rare with Pinyin outside teaching though is including tones, both via accents and via numbers. May 10, 2021 at 10:45
  • @Draconis Yes, probably. Do you have any examples you can point to? May 10, 2021 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


I would count Pinyin as romanization or transliteration, which is a distinct concept to furigana and ruby. The equivalent to Pinyin is Romaji.

I count furigana, and especially ruby to be the kana written in a small font above the normal sized kanji. You never see this in Chinese though it would be possible. In Taiwan when Zhuyin Fuhao is used I've never seen it typeset above the hanzi. It is sometimes in full-sized letters and sometimes grouped together as a syllable in the space a hanzi would take, a bit like Korean hangul blocks made up of a few jamo.

In Korean, it would be possible to annotate very old texts in hanja with hangul Ruby. I haven't seen old texts in Korean so I don't know what is done. What I have seen is the opposite. Hangul texts where the occasional rare word is annotated with a hanja character. When this is done it's not in small text above as with ruby, it's full-size inline with the hanja in parentheses.

  • 1
    +1. Pay no attention to my userpic.
    – Yellow Sky
    May 10, 2021 at 11:59
  • Ruby is a typesetting technique, it's very possible for it to be ruby and a romanization. Yeah, you see it in Korean newspapers occasionally too. As best I can tell something like furigana is unique to Japanese then. May 10, 2021 at 20:07
  • @JoshuaOlson: I would say it's a standardized method of disambiguation or something like that, and it's implemented as via a typesetting technique. That may or may not be splitting hairs depending on who is asking and why... When HTML first got furigana/ruby I experimented with it myself with other scripts and languages and putting romaji instead of kana. In fact I think I tried to do it before via HTML tables. Do you have any pictures of it in Korean? I have a few Korean novels but I don't think I ever looked at a newspaper when I've been over there. SE ecourages answering your own questions. May 11, 2021 at 2:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.