Facts about Chinese alphabet, pinyin, and Mandarin Chinese characters
Anyone who wants to learn the Chinese language might want to try to learn Chinese alphabet symbols. The problem is that this language is completely different to western languages. For this reason, there is no alphabet as such.
European and American languages all use a fairly similar character set. This makes it possible to sound out words. However, Chinese is not like this. Chinese is a language which is more like the hieroglyphics used in Ancient Egypt, all be it in more advanced form.
Mandarin Chinese characters actually started off as symbols of what they were representing. You can still see this in some characters today, including the symbol for umbrella which does sort of look like an umbrella.
Learning Mandarin Chinese
Learning Chinese is somewhat difficult as you will need to learn thousands of characters if you want to read and write. This is time consuming as it takes a very long time to remember all of these characters. Especially for westerners who are wired to think in letters rather than characters.
If you’re interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, but are not that excited about memorizing thousands of Chinese symbols, don’t despair! There is something called Pinyin, and all students of the Chinese language get a feeling of relief when they realize that Mandarin can be written and read with the ABC.
What is Chinese PinYin?
There are a few different romanization systems in use in China. These attempted to convert the pronunciation of the characters into letters. By far the most popular Chinese alphabet symbols system and best liked is Pinyin.
Pinyin is a way of spelling Chinese characters phonetically.This means that it is useful for foreigners trying to learn how to pronounce and speak this complicated language.
Pinyin is made from 25 European characters and the letter v is not used. There are three elements in the Chinese words, these include the initial, final and tone.
Initial Chinese Sounds
The initial sounds include b, c, ch, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, sh, t, x, z, and zh.
Final Chinese Sounds
Some of the final Chinese sounds are: a, e, i, o, u, ai, a, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, ue, uei, and uo. There are also 16 nasal finals including ang, eng, iang, ing, iong, ong, uang, un, uen, uan, in and en.
Pinyin was developed by people from Germany. This means that the pronunciation of the letters used is (a little) different than English. However, it’s still a great help and can be used as a good way of mastering Chinese pronunciation.
The best way of learning how to pronounce the letters is to listen to a native Chinese speaker. You will be able to find many recordings which teach you Pinyin online.
Chinese Alphabet Symbols – Uses in China
Pinyin isn’t just useful to foreigners outside of China trying to learn the language. Pinyin is now taught at schools, and many Chinese used in the last few generations know how to use pinyin.
The Pinyin Chinese alphabet symbols are also used to type characters into computers. That is what I use to type Mandarin Chinese and it is very, very helpful as my knowledge of Chinese characters is very limited.
Without these Chinese alphabet symbols, learning Mandarin would be a real nightmare. When you start your Chinese course, you should spend as much time as possible learning to read and pronounce the Chinese alphabet symbols. Once you master Pinyin, learning Mandarin Chinese is so much easier!