Forum Activities

Pinyin

Learning - Pinyin

 

Overview


Pinyin (Chinese: 拼音) is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters to teach Mandarin Chinese in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, and is a way to represent Chinese characters and express the sounds in the Chinese language using the alphabet.

 

Initials and finals


The pronunciation and spelling of Chinese words are generally given in terms of initials and finals, which represent the segmental phonemic portion of the language, rather than letter by letter. Words expressed in pinyin use a set of 21 sounds representing the beginning of the word called initials, and a set of 37 sounds representing the end of the word called finals. These combine to form about 420 different sounds.

 

Tones and Rules


Words in Mandarin that have the same pronunciation can have different meanings depending on how the word is said. The "tone" of a word describes how the the pitch of the speaker's voice changes as the word is said. There are four "tones" in Mandarin which we will cover in detail in the "Tones" section. The tones are represented in pinyin by marks above the words.

 

Exercises

 

Practice what you learned!