Thursday, April 14, 2011


Pinyin is the alphabetical basis most important to learning Chinese for any native English speaker. Luckily, most Chinese people also know pinyin and it becomes a useful tool when asking how to pronounce characters or names.

Though there is an official alphabetical way of reading the consonants, it is not necessary when actually using pinyin to pronounce words. When studying Chinese, since you'd read pinyin the way it should be said instead of spelling it out, going over how to say them individually would be as useful as giving my cat my tax forms and throwing pens and Taxes for Dummies books at it every January. So far I haven't received any money back and I keep getting letters and threatening phone calls from someone called the "Federal Government" but this year I think the claw marks really captured the essence of my financial earnings.

Consonants, for the most part, are pronounced the same way as the hard sounds of their English counterparts aside from the following (particularly the ones that scare substitute teachers shitless when they appear on a list of student names):

c (not pronounced like k)

C has a very odd pronunciation in which it makes a "ts" noise. Start with a normal t sound and follow with a s sound just like the end of "cats". It's a lot easier than it looks.

The Zh sound is like a soft g as in how you would say "George". It's very similar to a j sound.

The Q sound is the same as a "ch" sound like the beginning of "cheese".

 The X sound is the same as a "sh" sound as in "shell".

You might be wondering why a language would have two different "ch" and "sh" noises when they are exactly the same but there is a major difference in pronunciation when adding an i to either ch and q or sh and x but I'll go over that tomorrow when I cover vowel sounds.


  1. I'm trying to learn Russian, but this seems interesting too!


  2. I wish i wasn't so awful at learning new languages

  3. The only language I've really tried to learn was german. Ich weiss ein bisschen, aber ich nicht gut bin. Oh well! Followed

  4. This is really cool stuff, picture is kinda small though.