Pronunciation Chart - Initials and Finals

The Chinese Phonetic Alphabet

There have been many different systems of transcription used for learning to pronounce Chinese. Today the official transcription accepted on an international basis is the Pinyin alphabet, developed in China at the end of the 1950's. A syllable in Chinese is composed of an initial, which is a consonant that begins the syllable, and a final, wich covers the rest of the syllable.

b p m f d t n l g k h j q x zh ch sh r z c s
  • m, f, n, l, h and sh are pronounced as in English.
  • d like "d" in "bed" (unaspirated)
    j like "g" in "genius" (unaspirated)
    z like "ds" in "beds"
    zh like "j" in "job"
    b like "p" in "spin" (unaspirated)
    g a soft unaspirated "k" sound
    x like "sh" in "sheep" but with the corners of the lips drawn back
    r somewhat like "r" in "rain"
    p like "p" in "pope"
    t like "t" in "tap"
    k like "k" in "kangaroo"
    q harder than "ch" in "cheap"
    c like "ts" in "cats"
    ch (tongue curled back, aspirated)