Chinese Mandarin Pronunciation

Using Pinyin

 

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B. J. Burford and E. J. Burford 2007-2013

 

Updated 16 June 2013

 

 

See also the associated language document,

Chinese Mandarin Introductory Course Using Pinyin.

 


USE OF THIS FILE

 

This pronunciation course for Chinese Mandarin in Mandarin is provided in Word ".htm" format with hyperlinks to sound files. The Mandarin Pinyin characters are in one of Jaspell's TrueType "ttf" fonts.

You need do the following:

        Install the Pinyin font JPINNN01.ttf using Windows Start / (Settings /) Control Panel / Fonts / File / Install New Font.

        Open a webpage reader, such as "IExplorer" or "Netscape", that handles ".htm" files with hyperlinks to ".wav" files.

 

The pronunciation course is similar to the early part of the introductory language course "pinyin introductory01.pdf". The "pdf" format only requires the use of Acrobat Reader, a tool available by free download.


 

STUDY 1

Pronunciation of individual and groups of characters

 

PRONUNCIATION 1.1 (Individual Sounds and Their Writing in Pinyin)

 

Pinyin script provides an approximate method for representing the pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese using Roman characters with accents. Some letters are pronounced as in English, but others have very different sounds (as highlighted in the following chart). Pronunciation also varies in different regions of China, but the following guidance is generally acceptable.


 

INDIVIDUAL SOUNDS

Letters

Pronounciation

Position

 a 

a as in father, atone

 

 b 

b as in bag

 

 c 

ts as in bats

 

 ch 

tsh as in hatshop

 

 d 

d as in dog

 

 e 

e as in her

generally

 e 

e as in yes, yeah

after y

 f 

f as in fun

 

 g 

g hard as in get

(not soft as ingel)

 h 

ch gutturally as in loch

 

 i 

i as in sir, circle, chirp

after c, ch, r, s, sh, z, zh

 i 

ee as in been;

i as in bistro

after b, d, j, l, m, n, p, q, t, x, y

 j 

j as in jam

 

 k 

k as in kitchen

 

 l 

l as in love

 

 m 

m as in mug

 

 n 

n as in nibble

 

 o 

o as in or

 

 p 

p as in pun

 

 q 

chh as in matchhead

 

 r 

r rolled as in curl

 

 s 

s as in sat

 

 sh 

sh as in rashly

 

 t 

t as in top

 

 u 

u as in boot

(See group below)

 w 

w as in water

 

 wu 

oo as in pool

not wu

 x 

s as in see;

hs as in aah, see!

 

 y 

y as in yam

 

 yi 

ee as in been

yi is i, not yi

 z 

ds as in suds

 

 zh 

dge as in hedgeless

 

 

 

See also the table below about groups of vowels and syllables.

 

PRACTICE 1.1 (Pronunciation of Characters in Simple Syllables)

 

Read: ba, ca, cha, da, e, ye, er, fa, ga, ha, yi, bi, ci, ju, ka, la, ma, na, bo, pa, qu, re, sa, sha, ta, wu, bu, wa, xi, ya, yi, za, zha

 

Repeat

 

PRONUNCIATION 1.2 (Pronunciation of Special Vowel Groups)

 

See the following table titled: Some Special Vowel Groups and Syllables.

Some groups are marked with an asterisk, *. The following comments apply to these.

If the vowel group starting in i occurs on its own, it needs to be written beginning with y instead of i. So, ian would be written as yan.

Similarly, a group on its own starting in u is written using a w instead of the u. So, uan is written as wan.

Some sound groups are easier recognizable for an English speaker: aisle; ban; bang; naos (sounding like now); eight; tiara; ring.


 

SOME SPECIAL VOWEL GROUPS AND SYLLABLES


Group

 

 

Sounds like

en

 

 

urn or undo

eng

 

 

bung

 i  (in ci, chi, ri, si, shi, zi, zhi)

 

 

shirt (without r), zircon, adze

 i  (in bi, di, fi, ji, li, mi, ni, qi, ti, xi, yi)

 

 

been, deed, jeep, tee, see, eel

ia / ya

*

 

yarn, try a bit

ian / yan

*

 

yen, try any

iang / yang

*

 

young

iao / yao

*

 

yowl

ie / ye

*

 

the air; ee-ye

iong / yong

*

 

Jung (German)

iu / you

*

 

yoyo

 o 

 

 

fore, door

ong (after d, t, n, l, z, c, s, zh, ch, r, g, k, h)

 

 

jung (German); long

ou

 

 

dough

u / wu

*

 

shoe, gnu, do

 u  (in l, n ) / yu

*

 

chew your food

 u  (in ju, qu, xu) / yu

*

 

chew your food

ua / wa

*

 

wax

uai / wai

*

 

wide

uan / wan

*

 

won

uan (after j, q, x) / yuan

*

 

-yen; new end; inuendo

uang / wang

*

 

wangle

ue (in le, ne) / yue

*

 

-ye, new energy

ue (in jue, que, xue) / yue

*

 

-ye, new energy

(uei) / ui / wei

*

 

weigh

un (after d, t, n, l, z, c, s, zh, ch, sh, r, g, k, h) / wen

 

 

won, dun

(ueng) / weng

*

 

swung

un (in jun, qun, xun) / yun

*

 

unique; German

uo / wo

 

 

wall

 


PRACTICE 1.2 (Pronunciation of Special Vowel Groups and Syllables)

 

With the help of the table (of special vowel groups and syllables) given above please read these syllables:

 

Read:

en, ben, beng, ci, bi, ya, jia, lia, yian, dian, dianr, yang, liang, yao, biao, jiao, ye, bie, jie, xie, yong, jiong, xiong, you, miu, jiu, o

 

Repeat

 

Read:

bo, dong, rong, zhong, wu, bu, yu, n, l, ju, qu, wa, zhua, hua, wai, guai, wan, duan, juan, quan, xuan, wang, huang, chuang, yue

 

Repeat

 

Read:

le, ne, jue, xue, wei, dui, zui, wen, dun, hun, yun, jun, xun, wo, duo, shuo, huo, huor .

 

Repeat

 


PRONUNCIATION 1.3 (Pronunciation of i Depending on Its Context)

 

The vowel i may occur after some, but not all consonants. If the sound of the letter i occurs on its own, the sound is represented by yi.

 

The letter i can be pronounced in two different ways, depending on which sort of consonant it occurs with. It is easier to remember which is right, if you register where in your mouth the first group is pronounced.

 

Note: c, ch, r, s, sh, z, and zh are a family of sounds. They are all pronounced in the roof of the mouth towards the front of the palate with the help of different amounts of pressure from the tongue. With r the tongue barely touches the palate, whereas with zh the tongue is folded back there somewhat painfully.

 

WAYS TO PRONOUNCE I

 

 

 

 

 ci 

*

what sir did

bi

been

 chi 

*

what churns around

di

deed

 ri 

*

never irksome

ji

jeep

 si 

*

sir

li

leek

 shi 

*

shirt

mi

meek

 zi 

*

zircon

ni

need

 zhi 

*

adjourn

pi

peek

 

 

 

qi

cheek

 

 

 

ti

tee

 

 

 

xi

aah, see!

 

 

 

yi

eel

Repeat

 

 

Repeat

 

 

* If this i occurs with characters in the group in left hand column, but it occurs without a tonal mark especially at the tail end of a word it tends to be restrained. (Compare the end of English words like sire, shire, adze, badge, etc., in which the final vowel e is almost lost.) For example, this applies to shi, but not to sh, sh, sh, or sh.


 

PRACTICE 1.3 (Varying Pronunciation of i)

 

With the help of the table given above please read these syllables:

 

 

Read: bi, ci, chi, di, ji, li, mi, ni, pi, qi, ri, si, shi, ti, xi, yi, zi, zhi.

 

Repeat


 

PRONUNCIATION 1.4 (Vowel Tones and Their Tone Marks in Pinyin)

 

Mandarin is pronounced with tones. These are indicated in Pinyin script by tone marks.

 

Mandarin

Tone

Pinyin

Tone mark

Description of Tone

Example

First tone

 

highest and level pitch

m (mother)

Second tone

 

starts high and rises

mfan (trouble)

Third tone

 

falls first and then rises

m (horse)

Fourth tone

 

starts high and then falls

m (scold)

(Toneless)

(No mark)

unstressed or neutral

ma (eh, surely!)

 

 

 

Repeat

 

NOTE 1

When a third tone () precedes another third tone, pronounce it as a second tone (). Hence hn ho is pronounced hn ho. Similarly, n ho is pronounced more like n ho.

 

NOTE 2

Some words like b change before a fourth tone syllable    or before a toneless syllable. b changes to b.

 


PRACTICE 1.4 (Pronunciation of Vowel Tones)

 

Read the following verses (from Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Lng y fngmin,

shnglng de gush

yu

ixn,

xl,

hpng,

On the other hand,

the fruitage of the spirit

is / have

love,

joy,

peace,

 

 

 

 

 

 

jinrn,

rnc,

lingshn,

xnxn,

wnh,

zzh.

long-suffering,

kindness,

goodness,

faith,

mildness,

self-control.

 

Lng y fngmin, shnglng de gush yu ixn, xl, hpng, jinrn, rnc, lingshn, xnxn, wnh, zzh.

 

PRACTICE 1.5 (Pronunciation of Vowel Tones)

 

Read:

 

Qng d zhge ho xioxi.

Please read this good news.

W xwng gi n zhge tbi qngti.

I'd like to give you this special invitation.

Xwng hn kui jindo n!

See you soon! (Like very quickly get to see you.)

Zh n zo r kngf!

Get well soon!

 


DIALOGUE 1.1 (Pronunciation of Vowel Tones)

 

Read this dialogue as two persons, A and B:

 

 A 

Zoshng ho

Good morning

 B 

Zoshng ho.

Good morning

 A 

Hn goxng jindo n

Nice to see you.

 B 

W y hn goxng jindo n.

Nice to see you too.

 A 

W jio X. N jio shnme mngzi?

I'm called X. What name are you called?

 B 

W jio X.

I'm called X.

 A 

Wmen xwng xingyu hpng de shngmng, ksh yu du knnan.

We'd like to enjoy a life of peace, but we have much difficulty.

 B 

Du!

Correct!

 A 

W xwng gi n zhfn qngti.

I'd like to give you this invitation.

 B 

Wishnme?

For what?

 A 

Mi Xngqy yu ptnghu yng de toln.

Each Monday there's a discussion using Mandarin.

 B 

Toln de hut sh shnme?

What is the topic?

 A 

Wmen xux Shngd de yyn. T shu le T hu znyng bngzh yrn.

We study God's prophecy. He said how He will help righteous ones.

 B 

Zi nr?

Where?

 A 

W nng li rng n dch.

I can come and give you a lift by car.

 B 

Xixie. Ksh w nng zul.

Thanks. However, I can go on foot.

 


DIALOGUE 1.2 (Pronunciation of Vowel Tones)

 

Read this dialogue as two persons, A and B:

 

 A 

N xing d zhge ho xioxi ma?

Would you like to read this good news?

 B 

Hode

OK

 A 

N du zhge hut gn xngq ma?

Are you interested in this topic?

 B 

W yu xngq lioji. Ksh gu yhur.

I'm interested in understanding. But later.

 A 

Zh sh wde dinhu hom.

Zh sh wde ymir dzh.

This is my telephone number.

This is my email address.

 B 

Xixie.

Thanks.

 A 

N nng gos w nde dinhu hom h dzh ma?

Could you tell me your telephone number and address?

 B 

Hode. Gi n.

OK. Here you are.

 A 

Mngtin Yngwn yng de toln hu sh:

Shngd du n hn zhngsh ma?

Tomorrow the topic in English will be:

Does God count you as important?

 


 

STUDY 2

Greetings and appreciation; read

 

VOCABULARY 2.1 (Greetings, Request and Thanks)

 

Hunyng! *

Welcome!

N ho!

Hello! Hi! Howdy! How do you do!

ptnghu

Mandarin

 

 

Qng

Please!

d

[to] read

Xixie!

Thanks!

Xixie nn!

Thank you! (polite form)

 

* See guidance on Mandarin pronunciation and Pinyin script.

Check especially h in Pronunciation 1.1.

Check especially q, and x in Pronunciation 1.1.

Check tones and tonal marks in Pronunciation 1.4.

Remember, when a third tone () precedes another third tone, pronounce it as a second tone (). So, n ho is pronounced more like n ho.

 

PRACTICE 2.1 (Greetings and Appreciation)

 

N ho!

Hi!

qng

please

Qng d

Please read.

Xixie

Thanks!

ptnghu

Mandarin

Hunyng

Welcome!

 


 

STUDY 3

Presenting a message; style awareness

 

VOCABULARY 3.1 (Messages)

 

zh; zhi

this (some person or thing here)

zhge

this (particular)

n

that (some person or thing there)

nge

that (particular)

ho

well, good fine

xioxi

news

xnx

information, message

qngti

invitation

 

(Remember, h in ho is pronounced raspingly, like ch in Scottish loch)

(Pronounce zh in zh like dge in hedgeless. Curl back the tongue.)

 

GRAMMAR 3.1 (Style Awareness)

 

You may be able to discern subtle differences in how a word feels according to context. Observe in the following example that zh would feel too vague and general, so its good to add -ge to make the object in the sentence more specific.

 

The examples provided at the start of this course try to make meaningful sentences, but with only a few words learned at this stage, it is almost unavoidable that some of them lack some of the finer style you can achieve with a wider choice of words.

 

Qng d zh[ge].

Please read this [item].

 


INCREMENTAL CONSTRUCTION 3.1 (Messages)

 

Learn the following method or constructing a sentence incrementally.

 

N ho!

Hi!

Qng d

Please read.

xioxi

news

ho xioxi

good news

zhge xioxi

this news

zhge ho xioxi

this good news

d zhge ho xioxi

Read this good news

Qng d zhge ho xioxi!

Please read this good news!

 

INCREMENTAL CONSTRUCTION 3.2 (Messages)

 

N ho!

Hi!

Qng d

Please read.

qngti

invitation

ho qngti

good invitation

zhge qngti

this invitation

zhge ho qngti

this nice invitation

d zhge ho qngti

read this nice invitation

Qng d zhge ho qngti!

Please read this nice invitation!

Xixie!

Thanks!

Xixie nn!

Thank you! (polite form)

 


REVIEW 3.1

 

Greetings! / Hello! /

How are you?

n ho! [- h is pronounced like ch in loch]

 

 

Please!

qng! [- q is lpronounced ike ch in chicken]

Read!

d!

Please read !

qng d !

 

 

information

xnx

this [a word used in place of a person or thing]

zh [- zh is pronounced like dge in fudge]

this particular

zhge - g is like g in get

this information

zhge xnx

Please read this invitation.

Qng d zhge xnx.

 

 

Please read this invitation.

Qng d zhge qngti.

 

 

Thanks!

xixie!

Thank you! (polite form)

xixie nn!