By Veronica Tucker,2014-07-04 01:30
8 views 0


    What is that 1,2,3, 4 behind the pinyin?

    Which nine sounds you need to know for typing Chinese?

    Why use two syllable-word, sometimes with the same meaning.

Chinese is a tonale language

    In modern Chinese, every syllable has four different tone pitches (sisheng


    high pitch (yinsheng 陰聲),

    rising pitch (yangsheng 陽聲),

    lower rising pitch (shangsheng 上聲), and

    falling pitch (qusheng 去聲).

    In the pinyin text I quote, I use

    1,2,3,4 instead of symbols to demonstrate the four above tones.

    The quickly falling tone pitch (rusheng 入聲) that once marked a final voiceless stop, disappeared

    during the end of Song and the Yuan Dynasties. Finally, in two-syllable-words, the second

    syllable is sometimes unaccented, so to say a pitchless tone (lingsheng 零聲).

    In Cantonese exist eight different tone pitches: high, upper rising, upper falling, upper entering,

    low, lower rising, lower falling, and lower entering; in daily use they are reduced to six.

The most confusing sound I find when I type Chinese word using pinyin is the


    J zh z

    q ch c

    x sh s

    [b] b [d] d [g] g [dj] j [d] zh [dz] z [p] p [t] t [k] k [tç] q [ts] c [t] ch

    [m] m [n] n [x, h] h [ç] x [s] s [] ch

    [f] f [l] l [] r

Since most of Chinese soft ware gives the suggested words after the first 1 or

    two consonants, if you know the difference of the above, then you can easily find

    1/4 7/4/2010 sunhoofoo


    the words you wanted. (I post them in front of the monitor).This work for me after

    struggling so long to attempt typing Chinese characters in Zhuyin.

It is estimated that modern chineses is simplified to 400 syllable x 4 tones = 1600

    sounds. So with only 400 sounds one could pronounce all the Chinese


The following examples show you the homophony and the reason why in

    Chinese simplification process, pinyin can not substitute the actual characters

    rdYi” for example. Farng Yi is 2 sound. Take “

yi1 yi1 yi1

     = medicine; = one; = cloth

yi2 yi2 yi2

     = Happy ; = move; =suspect

yi3 yi3 yi3 yi3

     = ant; =using ; = second; = chair

yi4 yi4 yi4 yi4

     =justice, meaning = will power; = leisure; =recall


Now, you may add above to your GB vocabulary. Remember , there are only 400

    sound and 1000 words to learn.

The problem in reconstructing old Chinese language is that we do know how words were written,

    but because Chinese script is not a sound script (at least not in general) but a symbolic script, we

    do know nothing about the pronunciation of the old words. Only the researches of Bernard

    Karlgren (1889-1978) and E. G. Pulleyblank (* 1922) helped to reconstruct middle Chinese (Tang

    to Song Dynasties) and finally old and archaic Chinese. Both used the rime dictionaries of the

    Tang and Song Dynasties (Qieyun and Guangyun) and rime groups of the oldest poetry book, the

    Shijing. Frome these studies, we see that the final sound system of old Chinese was much more

    complex than today. While we have today only open syllables (without consonant: cha, ji, bo, dao)

    and the two finals -n (fan, lun, jin) and -ng (fang, cheng, qing). In old Chinese there were also finals like -l, -m, -g, -k, -t, and -p, in archaic Chinese even -gs. And there existed sound clusters at

    the begin of a syllable, like gl-, hl-, tr-, mj-, shw- and so on. Such a sound system makes old

    Chinese much more similar to Tibetian and Burmese.

    Compared to this, modern Chinese sounds quite crippled and oversimplified. Even at the begin of the 20th century, there existed not so much vowel-less syllables like in modern Chinese,

    like the seven syllables [d][t][][],[dz][ts][s]. Syllables like [dzi] or [tsi] have died out. Southern

    2/4 7/4/2010 sunhoofoo


    dialects (or languages?) in China still show final consonants like -m, -p, -t and -k. Chinese

    loanwords in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese show the vanished syllable endings. The

    Chinese loanword "law" (modern Chinese falü, old Chinese something like paplüet) in Korean is pôp, in Japanese a little bit forced to hôritsu, in Vietnamese turned around to luât pháp. Southern Chinese dialects like Cantonese still today show the ancient syllable endings: "law" in Cantonese

    is faatleuht. The simplification of the language was due to the central administration in a vast

    empire that allowed people to come around. Different dialects had to near each other and step by

    step threw away difficult sounds.

Reading alound a text in classical written language, the listeners are hardly able to understand a

    great part of the text. Measurements of the spoken language to encounter this homophony was the development of

    two-syllable words for nouns, verbs, adjectives and even for

    conjunctions. Today, most words in Chinese consist of two syllables, composed of two single

    words, like aiqing "love" from ai "love, affection" and qing "feeling, sentiment, temperament".

    The classical word fang can have the meanings of "direction" (modern: fangxiang 方向),

    "location" (difang 地方), "square" (fangxing 方形; fangmi 方米 fangzhang ܐtion), "aspect, side,

    party" (fangmian 方面), "mode, manner" (fangshi 方式), "method" (fangfa 方法), "plan, concept"

    (fanglüe 方略), "stategy" (fangce 方策), "recipe" (fangji 方劑, fangzi 方子, fangr 方ㄦ, "occultism"

    (fangshu 方術, fangji 方技), "honest, upright" (fangzheng 方正), "just now" (fangcai 方才), and so

    on; to discern between the different meanings, two-syllable words came up (in brackets).

    Pinyin Transcription

    Today, the People's Republic of China uses the transscription system Pinyin ??µ "Arranged

    Sounds", a system more coherent in reflecting consonants than the Wade/Giles system,

    introducing letters of the

    Roman alphabet that are used for very different sounds in European languages: "h" reflects a

    sound more similar to the guttural [x], "j" is [dj], "q" is [tç], "x" is [ç]. The vowel-rare

    sounds are "zh" for [d], "ch" for [t], "sh" is like [] in English, but a little bit more

    guttural, "r" is the French "j" with an inheriting English "r" [], "z" for [dz], "c" for [ts], and "s" just for [s].

    Lexically very useful, this consonantial system is destroyed by a horrible, that means unlogical

    system for the vowels. [y] is sometimes written "u" like in "qu" for [tçy] or "xuan" for [çyn], sometimes written "ü" like "nü" for [ny] or "lüe" for [ly]. [] is sometimes written "e" like in "lüe" for

    [ly], sometimes written "a" like "xuan" for [çyn]. [o] is sometimes written "o" like "bo" for [bo], sometimes written "uo" like "luo" for [lo]. [u] is sometimes written "u" like "lu" for [lu], sometimes

    written "o" like "gong" for [gu]. The letter "a" sometimes stands for [a] like "xia" for [çja],

    sometimes for [] like "xian" for [çjn]. Redundant are the letters "y" like "yi" for [i], while it is used

    for [j] in "yao" for [ja], and "w" like "wu" for [u], while it is used for [] in "wo" for [o]. It can be argued that the syllables "gong" and "xuan" are pronunciations of the south: [go] and [çyan].

Tones pitches are markes by accents: an upper dash for the rising tone, a raising accent for

    the raising tone, an upside down circumflex for the low rising tone, and a falling accent for

    the falling pitch (b, bá, b, bà). But the Pinyin system claims to be the correct pronunciation of

    the capital Beijing. In that sense, it should be more coherent to the northern pronunciation.

    Nevertheless, the Pinyin system should be accepted as an official transscription of Chinese

    words that becomes more and more common outside of China.

The table below gives an overview over the pinyin transscription of the Chinese sounds, the

    3/4 7/4/2010 sunhoofoo


    brackets include the pronunciation according to the international sound transscription, after the

    brackets pinyin transscription.

    [b] b [d] d [g] g [dj] j [d] zh [dz] z

    [p] p [t] t [k] k [tç] q [ts] c [t] ch

    [m] m [n] n [x, h] h [ç] x [s] s [] ch

    [f] f [l] l [] r

    The vowel-less syllables [d][t][][],[dz][ts][s] are written zhi, chi, shi, ri, zi, ci, si. The simple

    vowels [i][u][y] are written yi, wu, yu. The syllables of two-syllable words are written as one word:


    [uŋ] [a] [o] [ə] [ε] [ai] [ei] [aω] [ou] [an] [ən] [aŋ] [əŋ] [ər] ong, a o e ê ai ei ao ou an en ang eng er eng

    [-[-[-i] [-ja] [-jε] [-jεn] [-in] [-iaŋ] [-iŋ] [-juŋ] jaω] jou] ian iong i ia ie in iang ing iu iao

    [-[-[-[-[-[-[-[-[-n] u] ωa] ωo] ωai] ωei] ωan] ωaŋ] ωəŋ] un ui u ua uo uai uan uang eng [-[-[-[-yεn] y] yε] yn] uan ue un ü

    4/4 7/4/2010 sunhoofoo

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email