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  Pinyin 1 - Consonants



Pronouncing...

 

The romanization system known as Pinyin is a transcription of the sounds of Chinese into the Latin alphabet, enabling one to sound out the characters of Chinese.

But it is an inexact transcription: some Chinese sounds cannot be exactly duplicated with equivalent English letters. For instance the Pinyin letter x is a sound somewhat between s and sh.

Following is a Pinyin pronounciation guide. Most of the vowels and consonants approximate their English counterparts, but notice the significant disparities.

Consonants

 

Some consonants are pronounced aspirated, others unaspirated. An aspirated word is pronounced with an initial h sound or with a strong puff of breath.

In Mandarin, the consonants p, t and k are pronounced the same as b, d, and g, but the former are aspirated, the latter unaspirated.

To illustrate aspiration for yourself, try holding a piece of paper in front of your mouth: say the word puff with the force on the p. The paper flutters.

Now try to say puff without causing the paper to move. You are now saying it unaspirated.

There is a corresponding dissimilarity between j and q: q is aspirated, j is not.


b


p


m

f

d


t

n

l

g


k

h

j

q


x


Pronounced like the b in bay, but unaspirated, or like the p in spare (without any puff of breath on the p).

Like the p in pay, only more aspirated (a strong puff of breath).

Like the m in mom

Like the f in for

Like the d in do, but unaspirated, or like the tt in stand (without any puff of breath on the t).

Like the t in to, but with a strong aspiration.

Like the n in nice

Like the l in love

Like the g in gum, but unaspirated, or like the c in score but without a strong puff of breath.

Like the c in come, but with a strong puff of breath.

Like the h in hum.

Like the j in jet, but without any puff of breath.

Like the ch in church, holding down the tip of the tongue behind the lower front teeth.

Like the sh in she, holding down the tip of the tongue behind the lower front teeth, and with the lips spread wide. This is a sound halfway between s and sh.

The following four consonants should be pronounced with the tongue curled up backwards to touch the roof of the mouth.


zh

ch

sh

r
Like the ge in qem.

Like the ch in cherry.

Like the sh in show.

Like the r in rake.

In Pinyin, z, c and s each can only be pronounced in one way, unlike the English.


z

c

s

y

y(i)

y(u)

w

ng
Like the ds in buds.

Like the ts in its.

Like the s in so.

Like the y in yes.

Like the e in me (minimal vowel).

Yw, the y in yes quickly followed bythe w in walk.

Like the w in way.

Like the ng in ming.