Pinyin Tutorial I – Initials

Introduction

  • Pinyin, or more formally Hanyu Pinyin (汉语拼音), is an alphabet (romanization) system developed in China back in the 50’s.
  • Hanyu means the Chinese Language, and Pinyin means “phonetics”.
  • Pinyin is quite close to the English pronunciation system where a Chinese syllable can be composed of an initial(声母)(consonant) and final(韵母)(vowel).
  • Pinyin is generally used in dictionaries and Chinese language textbooks. In addition, the mastery of the Pinyin system makes Chinese word-processing (IME) much easier.
  • In short, mastering the Pinyin is the foundation for successful learning of the Chinese language.
  • Let’s start with initial

Initials

  1. An Initial is a consonant (excluding y and w)
  2. Always at the beginning of a syllable, it cannot exists by itself
  3. In total there are 21 Initials in Chinese:
  4. b
    p
    m
    f
    d
    t
    n
    l
    g
    k
    h
    j
    q
    x
    z
    c
    s
    zh
    ch
    sh
    r
  5. m, f, n, l, h and sh are pronounced as in English.
  6. d like “d” in “bed” (unaspirated)
    j like “g” in “genius” (unaspirated)
    z like “ds” in “beds”
    zh like “j” in “job”
    b like “p” in “spin” (unaspirated)
    g a soft unaspirated “k” sound
    x like “sh” in “sheep” but with the corners of the lips drawn back
    r somewhat like “r” in “rain”

    Particular attention should be paid to the pronunciation of the so-called “aspirated” consonants. It is necessary to breath heavily after the consonant is pronounced.
    p like “p” in “pope”
    t like “t” in “tap”
    k like “k” in “kangaroo”
    q harder than “ch” in “cheap”
    c like “ts” in “cats”
    ch (tongue curled back, aspirated)

    Distinction between certain initials:
    b/p    d/t   g/k    j/q    z/c   zh/ch

All initials:

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

More references:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneDigg thisShare on Tumblr

Learn a Chinese Character a Day