By now we assume you've heard of pinyin: the dominant method of writing the sound of Chinese characters using the roman alphabet. We use pinyin everywhere on Popup Chinese and while we obviously can't teach you all of the sounds in a single podcast, we did want to put something together for those of you having trouble making sense of the system, and in particular to clear up three common misconceptions people have about the romanization system: the mistaken idea that pronunciation follows English norms, the belief that the sounds in pinyin are internally consistent, and the confusion that strikes when it comes time to use pinyin to enter characters on a computer.

Beyond this podcast, we also want to take a minute and point out two resources here on Popup Chinese that most beginners overlook. The first is our online pinyin chart which is now bundled with our Chinese dictionary. You can use this to explore all possible pinyin sounds, see the relationship between different sounds, and hear the pronunciation of all sounds quickly and easily. Our second resource is our archive of pinyin recordings available for free download. They might not make for as easy listening as a podcast, but they're useful and you're welcome to use them with our compliments.
 said on
April 6, 2012
I like this photo: step by step :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
April 6, 2012
Really useful!
 said on
April 8, 2012
I understand the value of pronouncing city names correctly when conversing with a target-language speaker, but I second the position that it sounds pretentious when speaking English, even in the company of other expats. I speak Italian but don't feel compelled to trill the R and replace schwas with pure vowels whenever I mention Torino or Abruzzo. It violates the prosody of an otherwise natural English sentence -- localized pronunciations exist for a reason, not just for the benefit of monolinguals. Should I look down on Chinese who, when speaking in their own language of 巴黎 or 伦敦, never try to approximate the names used in their countries of origin?

Not that there's anything wrong with alternating localized/authentic pronunciations - it's just a matter of determining which version is most appropriate for a given situation.
 said on
April 8, 2012
@Benjameno.irwin,

我看不起你了!哈哈!你用意大利语的颤音跟我用英文说Torino 或 Abruzzo 的话,就会让我感觉很奇怪,受不了了!

其实,我觉得你所说的情况不会把目标语言的韵味破坏掉,除非你的发音和Alex Trebek一样做作的。

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