By popular request, we are adding a pronunciation guide for those who have said that would will help them pronounce some of the difficult Chinese names in our novel, “Rabbit in the Moon”.
The official system of romanization used in China today is known as Pinyin. It is now almost universally adopted by the Western media. Although non-Chinese may initially encounter some difficulty in pronouncing romanized Chinese words, many of the sounds actually correspond to the usual pronunciation of the letters in English. The exceptions:
c: is like the ts in ‘its’
q: is like the ch in ‘cheese’
x: has no English equivalent, and can be best described as a hissing consonant that lies somewhere between sh and s. The sound was rendered as hs under an earlier transcription system.
z: is like ds in ‘fads’
zh: is unaspirated and sounds like the j in ‘jug’
a: sounds like ‘ah’
e: is pronounced as in ‘her’
i: is pronounced as in ‘ski’ (written as yi when not preceded by an initial consonant).
However, in ci, chi, ri, shi, zi , and zhi, the sound represented by the final i is quite different and is similar to the ir in ‘sir’, but without much stressing of the r syllable.
o: sounds like the aw in ‘law’
u: sounds like the oo in ‘ooze’
e: is pronounced as in ‘get’
u: is pronounced as the German u (written as yu when preceded by an initial consonant)
When two or more finals are combined, such as hao, jiao, and liu, each letter retains its sound value as indicated in the list above, but note the following:
ai: is like the ie in ‘tie’
ei: is like the ay in ‘bay’
ian: is like the ien in ‘Vienna’
ie: is similar to ‘ear’
ou: is like the o in ‘code’
uai: sounds like ‘why’
uan: is like the uan in ‘iguana’
(except when preceded by j, q, x , and y; in these cases a u following any of these four consonants is in fact u and uan is similar to uen)
ue: is like the ue in ‘duet’
ui: sounds like ‘way’
A few Chinese names are shown below with English phonetic beside them:
Beijing = Bay-jing
Guilin = Gway-lin
Xi’an = Shi-ahn
Qing Nan = Ching Nan