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Created 2011-01-01 23:09:00
Updated 2017-02-02 13:17:33
Posted by Dr WANG, 王先生

Pinyin 汉语拼音 => Chinese Phonetic system in Latin Alphabet

Pinyin is a Latin alphabet used to notify the pronunciation of Chinese characters, ie, ideograms, but not an independent written language as one can use to communicate.

In the conventional method of notification of pronunciation of Chinese characters, so called "tangent of two words" - 两字相切) as, for example, to pronounce the kanji "钢", it says 干唐切, meaning the tangent of 干Gan and 唐Tāng : from the consonant g of the first character and the vowel of the second character āng, we deduce the pronunciation of the third ideogram 钢, leading the gāng syllable. This method is complete and self-sufficient, but complicated, it is not easy to accurately read an unknown character - 生字.

Under Mao Zedong's personal guide, in the years 1955 ─ 1957, the Commission on the reform of Chinese characters (now the Commission on the language and Writing) has published a first order of Chinese Pinyin characters, it is formal system of notification of the pronunciations of Chinese People's Republic of China. The alphabetic system is primarily used for the phonetic pronunciation of Mandarin, the official pronunciation of the Chinese language, pronunciation based on that of the county TongXian (通县 TōngXiàn) near Beijing.

11 February 1958 the National People's Congress approved the publication of the program. In 1982, it became the international standard ISO-7098 (Latin Pinyin of Chinese characters). Some areas of the Chinese Overseas use Pinyin to learn Chinese, like Singapore. From 2009, this country requires using Pinyin to translate Chinese names in Latin. Pinyin is a tool assisting in the pronunciation of the Chinese language.

Interestingly, this was not a Chinese, but a French who invented the Chinese Pinyin. In 1626, late Ming Dynasty, a French Jesuit missionary named 金尼阁 (Nicolas Trigault, Douai, France, March 3, 1577 ~ November 14, 1628) comes to China. Keen on China, he wrote the book "For the ears and eyes of the Western intellectual in the Confucian capital" - "西儒耳目资", he first transcribed accurately phonetic pronunciation of Chinese characters in Latin. During his stay, he met in China HAN Yun, WANG Zheng and others. With their help, based on the book of Matteo Ricci (1552-10-06 - 1610-5-11) "Miracle of West Scripture", he created the first collection of words with Chinese Pinyin notifications, it is probably the first Chinese - Latin Language dictionary.

Whatever in China's own or in international standards, the Statute of Pinyin is clearly stated: it is the way to the Mandarin Chinese transliteration in Latin script, it is not the official writing of Mandarin Chinese, nor is a system of Chinese character. The Pinyin Chinese alphabet is an appellation of the Latin alphabet used in Pinyin, it does not mean that the Pinyin is an alphabetic language (pure alphabet language).

Pinyin is widely used in mainland China. In regions overseas where there is the Chinese community, particularly the regions of the world with Chinese speaking as the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, Chinese Pinyin is taught in learning the Chinese language.

I. Alphabet Table

AlphabetChinese Spelling AlphabetChinese Spelling
A ɑ N nㄋㄝ
B bㄅㄝ O o
C cㄘㄝ P pㄆㄝ
D dㄉㄝ Q qㄑㄧㄡ
E e R rㄚㄦ
F fㄝㄈ S sㄝㄙ
G ɡㄍㄝ T tㄊㄝ
H hㄏㄚ U u
I i V v□ㄝ
J jㄐㄧㄝ W wㄨㄚ
K kㄎㄝ X xㄒㄧ
L lㄝㄌ Y yㄧㄚ
M mㄝㄇ Z zㄗㄝ

we observed that the letter is not used in Chinese Pinyin in mandarin, it's only used to write foreign languages, languages of national minorities or dialects. The letters are written in the same manner as in latin languages such as English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Germain...

II. Consonants

AlphabetChinese SpellingInternational Spelling
m ㄇ摸[m]
f ㄈ佛[f]
xㄒ希 [ɕ]

III. Vowels

ㄧ 衣
ㄨ 乌
ㄩ 迂
ㄚ 啊

ㄧㄚ 呀

ㄨㄚ 蛙
ㄛ 喔
ㄨㄛ 窝
ㄜ 鹅
ㄧㄝ 耶
ㄞ 哀
ㄨㄞ 歪
ㄟ 诶
ㄨㄟ 威
ㄠ 熬
ㄧㄠ 腰
ㄡ 欧
ㄧㄡ 忧
ㄢ 安
ㄧㄢ 烟
ㄨㄢ 弯
ㄩㄢ 冤
ㄣ 恩
ㄧㄣ 因
ㄨㄣ 温
ㄩㄣ 晕
ㄤ 昂
ㄧㄤ 央
ㄨㄤ 汪
ㄥ 亨的韵母
ㄧㄥ 英
ㄨㄥ 翁
ㄩㄥ 雍
  1. The 7 characters “知、蚩、诗、日、资、雌、思” use the vowel i,ie:知、蚩、诗、日、资、雌、思 are written in Pinyin as zhi,chi,shi,ri,zi,ci,si.
  2. The character ㄦ is spelled on er,if it appears at the end, it's simplified on the simple letter r. ie:“儿童” as ertong,“花儿” as huar.
  3. An isolated vowel ㄝ is written as ê.
  4. For the vowel i, if it's prededed by a consonant, one transforms it on y, ie: yi(衣),yɑ(呀),ye(耶),yɑo(腰),you(忧),yɑn(烟),yin(因),yɑnɡ(央),yinɡ(英),yonɡ(雍)。    Concerned the vowel u if it is not preceded by a consonant, one transforms it on w, ie: wu(乌),wɑ(蛙),wo(窝),wɑi(歪),wei(威),wɑn(弯),wen(温),wɑnɡ(汪),wenɡ(翁)。    If ü follows the consonants j, q, x, it's removed of accent: ju(居),qu(区),xu(虚); But if it follows consonants l,n,one writes normally on lü(吕),nü(女).
  5. If one adds a consonant before iou,uei,uen,one writes:iu,ui,un. For example, niu(牛),ɡui(归),lun(论).

IV. Tons

Tab. IV: Tons et Application sur les Voyelles.
Tone 1,Female Flat Tone 2, Male Flat Tone 3, Mounting Tone 4, Descending Tone Light
Tons ˉ ˊ ˇ ˋ
A ā á ǎ à a
E ē é ě è e
O ō ó ǒ ò o
I ī í ǐ ì i
U ū ú ǔ ù u
Ü ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ ü

In Chinese there exists a special tone, called light Tone,also named Tone 5,in the pinyin, one does not mark the symbol of the tone. Certain scolars think that the calling "Tone 5" is not adequate. The light tone has the function to distinguish the meaning of a character, but it does not figure among the "4 tons" on Pinyin. Because the tone marks normally the accentuation of a syllable. In respect with the height of the tone, the light tone does mark no more than the zone of the sound, but a normal tone poceeds also the variation of the loudness of a prononciation.

Each Chinese ideogram poceeds a consonant and a group of vowel. One marks the tone above the vowel. Sometimes to simplifier, one can also ignore it - Pinyin without tons.

The position of the tone symbol on Pinyin follows the rules here below:

This is to day, the tone is marked over the pondering vowel. One does not mark the light ton. For example:

Tone 1,Female Flat Tone 2, Male Flat Tone 3, Mounting Tone 4, Descending Tone Light
妈 mā 麻 má 马 mǎ 骂 mà 吗 mɑ

V. Positition des tons

Les règles suivantes sont observées:

VI. Separator

For a syllable beginning with the vowels ɑ,o,e, if it follows a syllable, when the confusion is possible, one uses the separator prime ('),for example pi'ɑo (皮袄, Leather Jacket).

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1. DaNiu - 2012-12-28 14:26:06
Bonjour, Dans un premier temps je souhaite vous remercier, vos explications sont très bien faite. J'aurais une question à propos du placement de ton dans le pinyin: lorsque l'on a par exemple le mot xiong, le ton se place sur le o mais pourquoi ne se place-t'il pas sur le i? Cordialement
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