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80/20 Guide to Chinese Pronunciation – Part 2


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To continue with Chinese pronunciation…

1. Consonants

There are 24 consonants in pinyin which are pronounced a lot like in English.

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

Chinese pronunciation of Consonants

b as in boy

p as in pine

m as in mother

f as in food

d as in dig

t as in talk

n as in none

l as in loud

g as in good

k as in kid

ng as in song

h as in hot

j as in jeep

q like “ch” in cheat

x like a sound between the “s” in see and the “sh” in she

zh like “dg” in sludge

ch as in children

sh as in shake

r as in raw

z like “ds” in words

c like “ts” in eats

s as in son

y as in Yao Ming

w as in we

2. Vowels

There are 6 simple vowels.

a, o, e, i, u, ü

Chinese pronunciation of Vowels

a as in mama

o as in drop

e as in earn

I as in sit

U as in look

ü like the u in the French rue

3. Vowel Combinations

In Chinese pronunciation, basic vowels can form vowel combinations with each other or with a nasal consonant.

Chinese pronunciation of Vowel Combinations

- ai like eye

- an sounds like “ah” with an emphatic “n” at the end (NOT like “an” in can)

- ang sounds like “ah” with a soft “ng” (NOT like “ang” in hang)

- ao is like “ao” in Tao

- ei is like “ay” in bay

- en is like “u” in sun

- eng is like “ung” in sung

- er like “ur” in purse

- ia is like ya

- iang is like young

- ie is like yeah

- iu is like the “ou” in you

- ian like yen

- iao is like “eow” in meow

- in as in “in” in gin

- ing as in “ing” in sing

- iong is like pinyin “yong”

- ong is like “ong” in kong

- ou is like “ow” in low

- ua is like “ua” in guava

- uan like one

- uang like “oo” + ang

- ui is like way

- un is like “wou” in would and ending in “n” sound (woon)

- uo sounds like “wo” as in wall

- uai is like why

- ua is like “wa”

- üan like yuan and written without two dots

- üe is like “yue” (“we” in “wet”)

Now, I know you’re going to ask…

Get the rules and tips of using pinyin at http://www.living-chinese-symbols.com/chinese-pronunciation.html

About The Author
Kah Joon Liow
Want to learn Chinese for pleasure and profit in less time? Like to discover the culture of Chinese characters and enhance your life? Liow Kah Joon is your guide. Sign up for his free Chinese Symbols ezine at http://www.living-chinese-symbols.com.

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  • Posted On January 11, 2007
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