Mandarin (Chinese) for the Mainland - Basic Flag of China

Table Designator: cmn

A translation table is a module in DBT that provides the rules to convert (translate) a document from print-to-braille or from braille-to-print. Normally, it is selected by the DBT template that controls production of the current document. All documents have a template. In fact, for many languages there are multiple templates, with differences in translation rules or formatting, but each references at least one translation table. (For more on templates, see DBT Templates, the Basics.)

Regardless of your template, you can choose a different translation table to translate your current document using the Translation Table selection from the DBT Document Menu.

You can also select different translation tables to use for particular passages in your document. See the section below on Language Table Switching.


The Mandarin tables support print-to-braille translation of Mandarin-language (Pinyin) literary text into uncontracted Mandarin braille. Uncontracted English is also supported.

Translation from braille-to-print is supported for this language.

File Import into DBT

All Chinese characters imported into DBT are converted into Pinyin. You cannot paste Chinese (Han) characters into DBT.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: cmn identifies this translation table for Language Table Switching.

Braille Contractions: This language is usually produced in uncontracted braille. This means that the letters of each word are rendered into braille on a one-for-one basis.

Capital Sign: The Chinese, Mandarin translator does not use any capitalization mark in braille because the native script does not employ capitalization. Text written with the Roman alphabet (such as English) uses dot 6 for capitalization.

Emphasis: The Chinese, Mandarin translator ignores all bold, italics, and underlining from the inkprint text. These are not represented in the braille.

Mathematical Braille: If you use the recommended DBT template with this translator table, you can access the Russian Braille mathematics translator using the math style.

Script Systems Used: This language uses Chinese or Han characters. During file import, these are converted into Pinyin (for Mainland China). During translation, the presence of an uppercase letter switches translation to "English Mode". Scanning Pinyin switches back to "Chinese Mode". In the back translator, the presence of dot 6 switches to "English Mode" and typical patterns of Chinese braille switch to "Chinese Mode".

Translation Modes (DBT Codes which Change the Mode of Translation)

A number of DBT codes affect the mode of the translation or create special translation effects on specific letters or symbols. Some translation modes are specific to particular translator tables.

VRN codes introduce variations from the standard rules for some aspect of braille translation. Chinese, Mandarin supports the following vrn codes.

[vrn~tN], where "t" indicates "tones" and N is an integer between 0 and 3 inclusive. This code sets the level for the representation of tones. The meanings of these levels are as follows:

For more about DBT codes that affect the mode of translation, search on the two words, "translation code", in the topic, DBT Codes Quick Reference.

Language Table Switching

DBT has translation tables for over 200 world languages. Modern versions of DBT allow using multiple language translation tables within a single document.

Suppose that you are working on a document using this base translation table, but it has passages in a foreign language, or that need a technical braille code. At the beginning of each such passage, insert the DBT code lnb, followed by ~ (tilde) and the table designator for the desired language table. (The table designator for each language table is listed in the Key Characteristics.) Note that using the lnb code you can change from the base table to virtually any other translation table and back again.

For some language tables, the table designator is short, like ise for Icelandic. Thus, to switch to Icelandic braille translation, insert [lnb~ise]. The table designators are more elaborate for mathematics code tables and for languages that have multiple translation tables. As an example, the designator for Unified French Braille is fra-xuf. To start a passage in the French Unified Braille code, insert [lnb~fra-xuf]. At the end of a foreign language passage, use the plain [lnb] code to switch back to the original, base, language translation table.

Some translation tables, and hence their table designators, are for braille codes but not for natural languages. Some examples are the International Phonetic Alphabet (designator: qip) and Nemeth Code (designator: qmt-xnem72m) for mathematics. Using lnb with those table designators allows you to switch to the IPA braille code or the Nemeth braille math code.

While a plain [lnb] code returns translation to the base language, it does not restore any other translation properties that might have been in effect before the switch. For example, if you had been using a [g1L] code (for "grade 1 lock") to prevent contractions, you need to repeat that code after the [lnb] code to restore that effect. Fortunately, you can build lnb codes into DBT styles, to customize what modes to enter and exit at the switch in and out of a translation table.

Note that DBT templates whose names contain the word "basic" all have a number of styles defined for switching between different translation tables. (For the list, see Basic Templates.)

Notice that if you include Roman alphabet characters in a document but do not use a language style or code to switch to a different translation table, you will get uncontracted English with the same marks of punctuation, emphasis, and capitalization used for the base language.

References, History, and Credits

Mandarin braille is based on the Pinyin Romanization. When a Mandarin Microsoft Word file is imported into DBT, it is converted into Pinyin Romanization. The Microsoft Word importer into Pinyin Romanization is based on information from the Unihan project. The Unihan project documentation does not offer any information as to who provided the data for the Pinyin Romanization for each Unicode Chinese character. Duxbury Systems would like to offer their thanks to whoever did this work.

For guidance on how Pinyin is written (especially for the rules about the proper placement of accent marks) we used the Wikipedia article: This information guided Duxbury Systems while enhancing the DBT file importer to convert Chinese characters into standard Pinyin with appropriately placed tone marks (shown as accents on some of the vowels).

For information about how to turn Pinyin Romanization into braille, Duxbury used 4 different sources:

Updates and Errors

If you have information about changes in the braille rules for your language, please email Duxbury so that we may update our translation tables. Likewise, if you find errors in your translated document, in either the print-to-braille or braille-to-print direction, please contact us. To describe your problem, it is best to send both the *.dxp and *.dxb files along with a full explanation, because the correct braille is often a matter of very specific circumstances. Contact Duxbury at: