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Pronouncing Mandarin in
Romanized Transcription

(Sound Files)

Tone Mark Tone Numbers Sound FileCharacter
quán quan2 graphic
xīn xin1 graphic
xīng xing1 graphic
zhuàn zhuan4 graphic
bu4 graphic
cǎi cai3 graphic
ce4 graphic
ci2 graphic
fèng feng4 graphic
fo2 graphic
ge1 graphic
guì gui4 graphic
lún lun2 graphic
mòu mou4 graphic
qi2 graphic
qu3 graphic
ri4 graphic
shí shi2 graphic
shǐ shi3 graphic
sòng song4 graphic
suì sui4 graphic
tán tan2 graphic
tián tian2 graphic
tuī tui1 graphic
yi3 graphic
yún yun2 graphic
zāng zang1 graphic
zhī zhi1 graphic
zhōu zhou1 graphic
zi4 graphic

The sound files given here are not great. The fidelity is poor and they were not made by a native speaker. But for a beginner they may help to get some idea of the tones and of the values of some letters or digraphs, including most of the sounds that give English speakers problems (like the use of the letter i as a dummy vowel after the letters c,r,s,z, and h).

It is not easy to get a web browser to play sounds without bringing up a whole "media player," which covers up the web page, proposes upgrades, and takes you to a web source full of ads. I think that these files should make sounds in most browsers without doing all that.

I have added a Chinese character with some hesitation. If you have a friend who is a native speaker of NORTHERN Mandarin, s/he can pronounce it for you and should produce a normative pronunciation. If your friend is a SOUTHERN speaker, expect to hear some pretty big differences. Most Chinese speakers of Mandarin do not pronounce the language exactly following the official standard that is taught in school. And some deviate quite far from it. A journey of a few hundred miles across the Mandarin-speaking regions of China can require even a native speaker to have a Mandarin-to-Mandarin interpreter for a few days before the speech of the new region becomes understandable.

Special note on tone: In Mandarin there is no concern with the absolute pitch of a tone, but only the tone contour (even, rising, dipping, or falling). The intentionally extreme difference in pitch between zhī and zhōu in this table would be a tonal difference in Cantonese, for example, where absolute pitch does matter, but it is irrelevant in Mandarin.

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