The Chinese Phonetic Alphabet

The Chinese Pinyin Alphabet

In the late 1950s, Chinese people began to use the Chinese phonetic alphabet. There have been many different systems of transcription for learning to pronounce Chinese.  A syllable in Chinese is composed of an initial, which is a consonant that begins the syllable,  and a final, which covers the rest of the syllable.

23 INITIALS

b,p,m,f,d,t,n,l,g,k,h,j,q,x,z,c,s,zh,ch,sh,r,y,w

* Chinese people read m, f, n, l, h and sh as in English. * d like “d” in “bed” (unaspirated) j like “g” in “genius”  (unaspirated) z like “ds” in “beds” zh like “j” in “job”

b like “p” in “spin” (unaspirated) g a soft unaspirated “k” sound

x like “sh” in “sheep” but with the corners of the lips drawn back r somewhat like “r” in “rain”

*  You should pay more attention to the pronunciation of the so-called “aspirated” consonants. It is necessary to breathe heavily after the consonant is pronounced. 

p like “p” in “pope” t like “t” in “tap”

k like “k” in “kangaroo”

q harder than “ch” in “cheap” c like “ts” in “cats”

ch (tongue curled back, aspirated) * Distinction between certain initials: b / p d / t g / k j / q z / c zh / ch 

y: yes yellow

w: what why

Chinese Phonetic Alphabet
Chinese Phonetic Alphabet

7 thoughts on “The Chinese Phonetic Alphabet

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