How to pronounce Chinese: Pinyin Introduction

August 17, 2010 | Posted by Sarah

When learning Chinese, one inevitable part is the study of pinyin. So what is pinyin and what is it used for? Just read the following brief introduction, and you may have an idea about it.

What's pinyin?

Pinyin is the system used to turn Chinese sounds into romanized letters. First developed in mainland China in 1958, it was adopted as an official international standard in 1982. As of January 1, 2009, pinyin is also the official Romanization system of Taiwan.

Pinyin may be misleading

While a very useful way for non-Chinese to learn Chinese sounds, and for Chinese to learn English letters, pinyin is not perfect. This is because several Chinese sounds don’t exist in English, or the sounds represented by the English letters mislead the learner into pronouncing the sound as if it were English.

Remember to be skeptical

So, the first rule when you start to learn pinyin is that you should always be skeptical of reading pinyin like you’re reading English. It is best to listen to the Chinese sound and try to remember it independent of the pinyin. Then, after a while, the pinyin will come to represent these sounds to you.

Reading pinyin as if it were English will mislead you because English words are pronounced according to syllables. Chinese words, on the other hand, are syllables themselves -- they do not add up to a word like in English because each one is a word itself.

Put simply, speaking Chinese is about pronouncing isolated syllables.

  • Chris
    December 01, 2010 10:12 am
    Hi there -- You can say: 端午节快乐! duān​wǔ​jié​ kuài​lè​ Happy Dragon Boat Day! Any other questions for your project?
  • me
    December 01, 2010 10:12 am
    how would you say happy dragon boat day in chinese
  • me
    December 01, 2010 10:12 am
    ?? im way confused and i got a project comin up
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