I. Pinyin: Pinyin is a spelling system, which use the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet to transcribe the sounds of Mandarin Chinese. II. Chinese syllables: A Chinese syllable consists of 3 elements: initial, the final and the tone. II. (I). Finals: There are three kinds of finals in Mandarin Chinese: simple finals, which are also known as simple vowels; compound finals or compound vowels, and finals with a nasal ending , also known as vowels with a nasal ending. 1. Simple finals: There are six simple finals: A, O, E, I, U, U A a: To form this final, open the mouth wide and lift the middle back part of the tongue slightly toward the roof of the mouth, as in English "f a ther". Aa-Aa-Aa-Aa O o: To form this final, open the mouth just a bit and round the lip into "O"; shape; draw the tongue toward the back of the mouth and raise the middle back part of the tongue slightly, as in English "m o re". Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo-Oo E e: To form this final, keep the moth open medium-wide, with the upper and lower front teeth slightly apart. The corners of the mouth should be spread as when saying "ee". The tongue should be toward the back of the mouth, and its middle back section slightly raised. There is no correspondent to this sound in English, but it sounds very similar to the "U" in English "b u d". Students should make an effort to imitate. Ee-Ee-Ee-Ee-Ee I i: To form this vowel, raise the front middle part of the tongue so that it nearly touches the roof of the mouth. Spread the lips flat, very much as in English "t ea". Ii-Ii-Ii-Ii-Ii U u: Draw the tongue toward the back of the mouth and raise the back slightly. Round the lips as much as possible . It is the same as English "oo ze". Uu-Uu-Uu-Uu-Uu U u: Keep the tongue forward in the mouth and raise the front middle section of it, as if preparing to form the final "i". At the same time, round the lips as if you want to pronounce "u". It is like the French"t u". Uu-Uu-Uu-Uu-Uu Here again six simple finals: A, O, E, I, U, U 2. Compound finals: AI EI AO OU IA IAO IE IOU UA UO UAI UEI UE In Chinese, compound finals are comprised of a main vowel and a secondary vowel. When the initial vowel are A, E, and O, they are stressed, that is, prolonged. The vowels following are soft and brief. For example, "AI', you begin with the mouth open, in position to form the simple vowel "A", then, gradually close the mouth up into the position for "I": AI ai-AI ai-AI ai-AI ai-AI ai , as in English "eye". EI ei-EI ei-EI ei-EI ei-EI ei-EI ei, as in English "d ay". AO ao-AO ao-AO ao-AO ao-AO ao, as in English "c ow". OU ou-OU ou-OU ou-OU ou-OU ou, as in English "g o", "l ow". As for the compound finals which begin with the initial vowel I, U, or U, the main vowels come after them. I, U, and U are transitional sounds. For example "UA", to form this construction, simply form the vowel "U" and then without stopping the air flow, add onto it the main vowel "A". UA ua-UA ua-UA ua-UA ua-UA ua UO uo-UO uo-UO uo-UO uo -UO uo UAI uai-UAI uai-UAI uai-UAI uai-UAI uai UEI uei-UEI uei-UEI uei-UEI uei-UEI uei IA ia-IA ia-IA ia-IA ia-IA ia IAO iao-IAO iao-IAO iao-IAO iao-IAO iao IE ie-IE ie-IE ie-IE ie-IE ie *Note that the main vowel "E" in "IE"is not fully actualized. It pronounced as "e" in English word "b e t". The compound final"EI"sounds like English word "ye s". Again: IE ie-IE ie-IE ie-IE ie-IE ie IOU iou-IOU iou-IOUiou-IOU iou-IOU iou UE ue-UE ue-UE ue-UE ue-UE ue *Note that "E" in "UE" is carried out the same as "E" in "IE". Here again the compound finals: AI EI AO OU IA IAO IE IOU UA UO UAI UEI UE 2. Nasal finals: In Mandarin Chinese, finals can be followed not only by other finals (as they are in compound finals), but also by the nasal ending "N" and "NG". Finals with "N" ending are known as front nasals, and finals with "NG" ending are known as back nasals. (1) front nasal: AN EN IAN IN UAN UEN UAN UN To pronounce a front nasal, first you form the final, no matter it is "A" or "UA", then, without stopping the air flow, form "N". To form "N", place the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, then leaving the mouth half-open, let the air flow pass through the nasal cavity rather than though the mouth, as in English "i n", "noo n" . Now let's hear the Chinese front nasal: AN an-AN an-AN an-AN an-AN an EN en-EN en-EN en-EN en-EN en IAN ian-IAN ian-IAN ian-IAN ian-IAN ian-IAN ian IN in-IN in-IN-IN in-IN in-IN in UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan UEN uen-UEN uen-UEN uen-UEN uen-UEN uen UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan-UAN uan UN un-UN un-UN un-UN un-UN un Again all the front nasals: AN EN IAN IN UAN UEN UAN UN (2) Back nasals: ANG ENG ONG IANG ING IONG UANG UENG To pronounce a back nasal, first form the final, whether is "O" or "IA", and then without stopping the air flow, follow it with nasal "NG". To form a "NG", keep the tongue against the soft palate and, with the mouth slightly open, let the air flow out through the nasal cavity rather than the mouth. As "NG" is a voiced consonant, the vocal chords should vibrate while it is being formed. Now let's hear the back nasals one by one: ANG ang-ANG ang -ANG ang-ANG ang -ANG ang ENG eng-ENG eng- ENG eng-ENG eng-ENG eng ONG ong-ONG ong-ONG ong-ONG ong-ONG ong IANG iang-IANG iang-IANG iang-IANG iang-IANG iang ING ing-ING ing-ING ing-ING ing-ING ing IONG iong-IONG iong-IONG iong-IONG iong-IONG iong UANG uang-UANG uang-UANG uang-UANG uang-UANG uang UENG ueng-UENG ueng-UENG ueng-UENG ueng-UENG ueng Here again are the back nasals: ANG ENG ONG IANG ING IONG UANG UENG The following are the 35 finals in three categories:
|6 simple finals||a, o, e, i, u, u|
|13 compound finals||ai, ei, ao, ou
ia, iao, ie, iou
ua, uo, uai, uei
|16 nasal finals||an, en, ang, eng, ong
ian, in, iang, ing, iong
uan, un, uang, ueng
II. (II): Initials: In Mandarin Chinese, there are 21 initials, which can be categorized into 6 groups: labials, velars, palatals, alveolars, dental sibilants, and retroflexes: 1. Labials: B P M F B b Begin with the lips pressed together, than open them suddenly to release the air flow. It is similar to the "B" in English, but Chinese "B" is not voiced. Please pronounce the following combinations: ba bo bai bei bao ban bang ben beng bu bi bie biao bian bin bing P p This consonant is form like Chinese "B", but with an aspiration, that is, there is a strong puff of breath when the sound is made: pa po pai pei pao po pan pang pen peng pu pi pie piao pian pin ping M m To form "M", keep the lip closed and let the air flow pass through the nasal cavity instead of the mouth. It is identical of "M"in English "m e". Ma mo me mai mei mao mou man mang men meng Mu mi mie miao miou mian min ming F f Let the upper front teeth rest on the lower lip. The air flow should be forced out between the teeth and the lip. It is the same as "F" in English "f all". Fa fo fei fou fan fang fen feng fu Again, the labials: B P M F 2. Alveolars: D T N L D d Place the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (the bony ridge just behind the upper front teeth, then release the tongue to let the air flow. It is close to the "T" in English "s t ar". Da de dai dei dao dou dan dang den deng Dong du duo duei duan duen di dia die diao diou dian ding T t This sound is form in the same way as "d" above. The difference between Chinese "D" and 'T"is that "D" is unaspirated, while "T" is. Chinese "T" is like "T" in English word "t ake". Ta te tai tei tao tou tan tang teng tong tu tuo Tuei tuan tuen ti tie tiao tian ting N n Place the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, then leaving the mouth half-open, let the air flow pass through the nasal cavity rather than through the mouth. It is the same sound as the "N"in English "n> o". Na ne nai nei nao nou nan nang nen neng Nong nu nuo nuan nuen ni nie niao niou nian niang nin ning nu nue L l Place the tongue tip against the alveolar ridge and let the air flow pass around this obstruction and out of the mouth. It is the same as "L" in English "l ook". La le lai lei lao lou lan lang leng long lu luo Luan luen li lia lie liao liou lian liang lin ling lu lue Again, the Alveolars: D T N L 3. Velars: G K H G g Press the back of the tongue against the soft palate at the back of the roof of the mouth, then release it to allow the air to follow out. A close approximation to Chinese "G" is the unaspirated "K" in English word "s k ill". Ga ge gai gei gao gou gan gang gen geng gong Gu gua guo guai guei guan guang guen K k It is formed as "G" above. The only difference is that "G" is unaspirated while "K" is. Chinese "K" is very much like "K" in English "k ey". Ka ke kai kei kao kou kan kang ken keng kong Kong ku kua kuo kuai kui kuan kuang kuen H h Let the back of the tongue approach the soft palate without quiet touching it. The air should flow out through the thin fissure between the tongue and the palate. It is the friction of the air passing through the constricted space that makes the sound. Ha he hai hei hao hou han hang hen heng hong Hu hua huo huai huei huan huang huen Again, the velars: G K H 4. Palatals: J Q X J j Press the front of the tongue against the front of the hard palate, then release it to let the air flow pass through the small space between tongue and the palate. It sounds somewhat like the "G" in English "g esture" or the "J" in "j eep. Ji jia jie jiao jiou jian jiang jin jing jiong ju jue juan jun Q q It is formed like "J" above, but "J" is unaspirated while "Q" is. It is close to "CH" in English "ch eep. Qi qia qie qiao qiou qian qiang qin qing qiong qu que quan qun X x Let the front of the tongue approach without touching the front of the hard palate, leaving a narrow fissure between the two surface, and let the air flow pass out through fissure. It sound somewhat like the "SH" in English "sh eep". Xi xia xiao xiou xian xiang xin xing xiong xu xue xuan xun Here again the Palatals: J Q X 5. Dental sibilants: Z C S Z z Extend the tip of the tongue forward to touch the back of the upper row of front teeth, then release it just slightly and let the air flow through the narrow fissure between tongue and teeth. Za ze zai zei zao zou zan zang zen zeng zong Zu zuo zuei zuan zuen zi* *Note that "I" in "zi" is pronounced as continuation of the "z", like the "ds" in English "la ds". C c It is formed in the same way as "Z" above. But "C' is aspirated while "Z" is not. Ca ce cai cao cou can cang cen ceng cong cu cuo cuei cuan cuen ci* *Note that "I" in "ci" is a continuation of a "z" sound, like the "ts" in English "ca ts". S s Allow the tip of the tongue to approach the back of the upper teeth without touch them. Let the air flow pass through the small fissure remaining between the tongue and the teeth. It is very similar "S" in English "s un". Sa se sai sao sou san sang sen seng song Su suo suei sui suan suen si*. *Note that "I" in "si" is a continuation of a "z" sound. Again the Dental sibilants: Z C S 6. Retroflexes: ZH CH SH R ZH zh Raise the tip of the tongue to touch the front of the hard palate (just behind the alveolar ridge), then release the tongue just enough for the air to flow through with some friction. Zha zhe zhai zhei zhao zhou zhan zhang zhen zheng zhong Zhu zhua zhuo zhuai zhuei zhuan zhuang zhuen zhi* *Note that "i" in "zhi" is very short, like the "J" in "j erk" and the "G" in "g erm". CH ch "CH" is a pair to "ZH". But "ZH" is not aspirate and "CH" is. Cha che chai chao chou chan chang chen cheng chong Chu chua chuo chuai chuei chuan chuang chuen chi* *Note that "i" in "chi" is very short, like the "CH" in "ch ip". SH sh Let the tip of the tongue curl back to approach but not touch the front of the hard palate, leaving a narrow fissure between the two. Let the air flow pass through this fissure with some friction. It is somewhat like "SH" in English "sh oe". Sha she shai shei shao shou shan shang shen sheng Shu shua shuo shuai shuei shuan shuang shuen shi* *Note that "i" in "shi" is very short, like the "SH" in "sh irt". R r "R" is form in the same way as "SH" above. The only difference between them is that "SH" is unvoiced, while "R" is voiced, that is, the vocal chord must vibrate as the sound is made. Also, "R" is pronounced with the lips SPREAD NOT rounded like English "R". Re rao rou ran rang ren reng rong Ru rua ruo ruei ruan ruen ri* *Note that "I" in "ri" is very short. Here again are the Retroflexes: ZH CH SH R The following are the 21 initials categorized in six groups:
II. (III) Tones and tone marks: Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, in which a syllable is characterized by a fixed pitch quality known as tone. There are four tones in Mandarin Chinese, one level tone and three contour tones. One way of marking and describing tones is by the "five degree" notation. This system divides the range of pitches into five degrees, marked from lowest (1) to highest (5). For ease comparison, the four tone of Mandarin Chinese are presented graphically below.
|||First tone||Second tone||Third tone||Fourth tone|
|Five degree notation|
|Description||High and level||Rising from middle to high||First falling, then Rising||Falling from high To low|
Tones are very important in Chinese. The same syllable with different tones can have different meanings. Tone marks are written above the main vowel of a syllable. In the list below, the four tones are combined with the six simple finals. Listen and practice: 1st tone 2nd tone 3rd tone 4th tone a a a a o o o o e e e e i i i i u u u u U U U U In addition to the four tones, there also exists a neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese. A neutral tone syllable is pronounced briefly and softly, and its pitch value is determined by the stressed syllable immediately before it. Absence of a tone mark above a syllable indicates a neutral tone. III. Spelling Conventions: 1. While the simple finals "I", "U" and "u" form syllables by themselves, additional letters are used: "I' and "u' are always preceded by the letter "y", and "U" by the letter "w". 2. While the compound finals which begin with simple final "I" as complete syllables, "y" replaces "I" at the beginning of syllables. For example: "IAO" changes to "Yao" and "IE" to "Ye", etc. 3. While the compound finals which begin with simple final "U" as complete syllables, "w" replaces "U" at the beginning of syllables. For example: "UEI" changes to "Wei", and "UANG" to "Wang", etc. 4. While the compound finals which begin wit h simple final "u" as complete syllables, add "y" at the beginning of syllables. For example: :UE" changes to "Yue", and "UN" to "Yun", etc. 5. While the final "UEI" has an initial, it should be spelt as "ui". For example: Instead of "duei", it is written as "dui", etc. 6. While the final "IOU" has an initial, it should be spelt as "iu". For example: "Liou" becomes 'liu", etc. 7. While the final "UEN" has an initial, it should be spelt as "un". For example: "Suen" becomes "sun", etc. 8. While the compound finals which begin with simple final "u" have "J, Q, X" as initials, they should be spelt without the two dots above "u". For example: Instead of "jüe", it is written as "jue", etc. 9. Tone marks are written above the main final of a syllable. The main final can be identified according to the following sequence: A-O-E-I-U-u. For example, in "AO", the main final is "A"; in "IONG", the main final is "O". When "I" and "U" are combined into a syllable, the tone mark is written above the second final: "liu", "shui".