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Pinyin gotchas

Revision as of 01:38, 19 March 2015 by Mscottmoore (Talk | contribs) (Switched to "Basic Pronunciation" template)

If you're too lazy to read through the whole pinyin quick start guide (but you really should), or maybe if you're just looking to review what you've learned before, you should be well served by this simple list of all the little "gotchas" that confuse people when they first start learning pinyin.

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  1. Pinyin "j-" does not sound like the English letter "j"; it may sound like that to you, but it's actually a whole different sound you have to learn
  2. Pinyin "q-" does not sound like the English letter "q" or "k"; it may sound like the English "ch" sound to you, but it's a whole different sound you have to learn
  3. Pinyin "x-" does not sound like the English "x" or even the "sh" sound; it may sound like the English "sh" sound to you, but it's a whole different sound you have to learn
  4. Pinyin "r-" does not sound like the English "r"; it may sometimes sound like that to you, but it's actually a whole different sound you have to learn
  5. Pinyin "yan" sounds like the English word "yen" (as in "the Japanese yen")
  6. Pinyin "h-" comes in two varieties: smooth and "raspy" (both are correct)
  7. Pinyin "r-" comes in two varieties: smooth and "buzzy" (both are correct)
  8. Pinyin "ying" comes in two varieties: the southern version (yi- + ng), and the northern version (yi + eng)
  9. Pinyin "-ui" (as in "dui" or "hui" is actually a "-uei" sound; the "e" is pronounced but not written
  10. Pinyin "i" is pronounced pretty consistently like English "ee," except for the syllables "zi, ci, si", "zhi, chi, shi" and "ri"
  11. Pinyin "e" makes two sounds: one like English "uh" and one like English "e" (as in "pen")

Sources and further reading

Books

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