Archive for June, 2011
If you are serious about learning Chinese, you need to learn Chinese characters. However, what if you don’t know how to pronounce the new Chinese characters that you encounter? Pinyin is the official Chinese pronunciation system.
You can find this definition from Wikipedia
Pinyin (Chinese: 拼音; pinyin: pīnyīn; Mandarin pronunciation: [pʰɪ́n jɪ́n]) is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet to teach Mandarin Chinese in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters (汉字 / 漢字, hànzì) into computers.
This article is also an answer to a question from one of our visitors: “Is there a manderin alphabet? How do you find out the four tones written about, what significance are tones.” So Pinyin is the “Mandarin alphabet” he is asking for.
Then what are the four tones of Mandarin? You may also find the definition of “tones” from Wikipedia
The pinyin system also uses diacritics to mark the four tones of Mandarin. The diacritic is placed over the letter that represents the syllable nucleus, unless that letter is missing (see below). Many books printed in China use a mix of fonts, with vowels and tone marks rendered in a different font from the surrounding text, tending to give such pinyin texts a typographically ungainly appearance. This style, most likely rooted in early technical limitations, has led many to believe that pinyin’s rules call for this practice and also for the use of a Latin alpha (“ɑ”) rather than the standard style of the letter (“a”) found in most fonts. The official rules of Hanyu Pinyin, however, specify no such practice.
- The first tone (Flat or High Level Tone) is represented by a macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel:
- ā (ɑ̄) ē ī ō ū ǖ Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū Ǖ
- The second tone (Rising or High-Rising Tone) is denoted by an acute accent (ˊ):
- á (ɑ́) é í ó ú ǘ Á É Í Ó Ú Ǘ
- The third tone (Falling-Rising or Low Tone) is marked by a caron/háček (ˇ). It is not the rounded breve (˘), though a breve is sometimes substituted due to font limitations.
- ǎ (ɑ̌) ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ Ǎ Ě Ǐ Ǒ Ǔ Ǚ
- The fourth tone (Falling or High-Falling Tone) is represented by a grave accent (ˋ):
- à (ɑ̀) è ì ò ù ǜ À È Ì Ò Ù Ǜ
- The fifth tone (Neutral Tone) is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark:
- a (ɑ) e i o u ü A E I O U Ü
So what significance are tones?
With different tones, the same initial and final combination may have different or even opposite meanings. For example, mai2 with the 2nd tone means “buy”, but mai4 with the 4th tone means “sell”. tang1 means “soup”, tang2 “sugar”, tong3 “lie” and tang4 “hot”
A great way to help yourself to get familiar with Pinyin is to start with following:
CASEC (Chinese Association of Science, Education and Culture), a non-profit organization established in 1994 by local Chinese American professionals in South Florida.
Today CASEC has grown and become the largest Chinese American organization in South Florida with its membership of 1200 from Jupiter to Homestead. CASEC members are from many fields and of a variety of backgrounds, from professionals in academic teaching and research, industrial R&D and management, finance, law practice, to successful business entrepreneur. Members also include Chinese students and local Americans in the greater South Florida area.
If you want to contact CASEC members, you may go to this page. If you do want to find out the real South Florida Chinatown, you definitely need to join them or just ask CASEC members. From their party, Chinese schools and other activities, you can feel Chinatown is there!