The Chinese Phonetics
Pinyin is a Chinese phonetic system. It is an essential tool for learners of Mandarin who want to enunciate the language clearly.
Known as Hanyu pinyin in full, it is the Romanization system for transcribing Mandarin Chinese sounds. Although not the only system around, it is the most widely recognized. It was endorsed by the Chinese government and began to be taught in schools in 1958. It has since been used by many organizations worldwide, including ISO.
It is hard to learn pinyin without sound. For that reason, we have prepared for you a video tutorial to help you gain some preliminary understanding of the system. The tutorial goes through every sound, and is a good point to start if you want to learn pinyin.
To accompany the tutorial, we have prepared the pinyin table for your reference. You may want to refer to it when going through the tutorial.
Also known as Pinyin alphabet
Chinese Pinyin uses alphabet. It is for this reason that some would conveniently describe it as Chinese alphabet or Chinese symbols.
While looks familiar, it is important for you to be aware that:
- It is meant for Mandarin Chinese only
- It sounds differently from the English convention
The pronunciation of the vowels and consonants can be very different from the ways English words are pronounced. So, do not take things for granted.
Learn Mandarin by Pinyin
While we do encourage using the phenetics system to learn the language, you should know its limitation as well -- so that you'd not have unrealistic expectations about it.
LIMITATION: While pinyin is convenient, it cannot replace the characters. There are simply too many Chinese words sharing same sounds, and using pinyin as the main tool for written communication will cause too much confusion.
We therefore recommend that:
Whenever you learn a new word, in addition to pinyin, look at the associated characters. You may not be able to memorize the characters immediately, but do not underestimate the power of subliminal learning. You will be pleasantly surprised how the little extra effort in taking a glance at the Chinese characters will pay off in the long-run.
Go to Mandarin tutorials
Go to home page