Lesson 1

Pinyin Pronunciation Basics

Mandarin Chinese may sound difficult , but is actually relatively easy for English-speakers to pick up. The main reason is that Chinese has a very limited sound inventory, meaning there are not many sounds in the language , and hardly any new ones if you already know English.

In the February of 1958 a system was approved in China where the sounds of Mandarin Chinese were Romanized (uses letters like we do in English) to help learners recognize the pronunciation more easily .This system is called Pinyin (peen yeen) - also referred to as Hanyu Pinyin - which literally translated means "spell sounds". The Mandarin Chinese characters could actually be presented in International Phonetic Alphabets so that the pronunciation of the Mandarin Chinese could be standardized.

To make a complete word (syllable), Pinyin combines a consonant (beginning sounds), one or more vowels (ending sounds) and a tone. In Pinyin consonants are called initials and vowels are called finals. To make a syllable, it follows this pattern:

Syllable = initial (consonant) + final (vowel) + tone (of your voice)

Each Chinese character has one syllable. Same syllable with different tones means different words in Chinese. Pinyin is very important for learning Chinese language. Since there is no indication of the pronunciation when reading a Chinese character, Pinyin can help students know the pronunciation of characters. Make sure you go through lesson 2 to 4 that include introduction to initials, finals and tones.

Proceed to Lesson 2
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