Chinese (Mandarin) Lesson 1: Pinyin

 

欢迎来到 Languo Learning!

Welcome to Languo Learning!

Today, we are going to start our first Chinese Mandarin Lesson.

To start your Chinese learning journey, I’m going to introduce you to Pinyin.

Key Concept 1: Pinyin is the Romanization of the Chinese characters based on their pronunciation. In Mandarin Chinese, the phrase “Pin Yin” literally translates into “spell sound.” In other words, spelling out Chinese phrases with letters from the English alphabet. ¹

Tones

There are four tones in Mandarin. Different characters might be made out of the same vowels and consonants but pronounced with different tones. Therefore, it is important to pronounce those tones correctly.

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1. first tone ( ā ) 
flat, high pitch – imagine singing a pitch, instead of speaking it 


2. second tone ( á ) 
low to middle, rising – a questioning tone (Whát?)


3. third tone ( ǎ ) 
middle to low to high, dipping – if at the end of a sentence or before a pause, it is then followed by a rising pitch


4. fourth tone ( à ) 
high to low, falling – Pronounced like a command (Stop!)


5. There is also a fifth tone, the neutral tone, which is used rarely, mostly for phrase particles.

Vowels


as in father



as in the hen



as in king 



as in saw 



as in soon; but as ü in ju, qu, yu and xu


ü 
ü is hard to pronounce because its pronunciation does not exist in English.

To make the basic ü sound, make a continuous “ee” sound. As you make the sound, round your lips into the position they would need to be in to make an “oo” sound. By making the “ee” sound in your mouth with your lips in the “oo” position, you are pronouncing Mandarin’s ü sound. ²

Consonants

Chinese stops distinguish aspirated and unaspirated, not voiceless and voiced as in English. So p, t, and k should be pronounced with a puff of air.



as in ball 



as in rats


ch 
as in chore


d
as in d


f
as in fun



as in gang



as in her



as in jeer



as in king



as in lease


m
as in mow



as in none


ng
as in sing



as in pan



as in cheap



as in bear



as in sang


sh 
as in shoot



as in tan



as in want



as in sheep


y
as in yet, but silent in yi, yu



as in zebra


zh 
as in jungle


That’s it for this lesson! In our next lesson, we will learn about combining the vowels and consonants to pronounce words.

In the meantime, look over the pronunciations for both the vowels and consonants and try to pronounce them!


¹ Hua, Sara Lynn. “What Is Pinyin?” Chinese Learning Tips, blog.tutorming.com/mandarin-chinese-learning-tips/what-is-pinyin.
² “Chinese Pronunciation – Ü with Easy Consonants.” ChinesePod Official Blog, chinesepod.com/tools/pronunciation/section/15.

 

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One Comment Add yours

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