Pinyin Lesson One
Introduction and Tones
Chinese syllabic structure:
The 21 initials - the shengmu "声母
The simple finals
The 4 tones
The neutral Tone
b p m
j q x
z c s
zh ch sh r
initials is the first consonant of a syllable.
represent one sound.
Some initials are represented by
two-letters, e.g., ‘zh’ ‘ch’ and ‘sh’.
Most sounds are
similar to English sounds, but not exactly identical. For
example, the sound ‘b’ in Chinese is not voiced. It is a
voiceless sound as ‘p’ in English word ‘speak’. The sound ‘p’ is
an aspirated voiceless sound as ‘p’ in English word ‘peak’.
Please pay close attention to each sound when you learn. The
following sounds need more attention:
j a consonant, as
'j' in ‘jeep’ but not aspirated
q a consonant, as 'ch' in
x a consonant, as 'sh' in ‘she’
zh a consonant, as
'j' in ‘jump’ with retroflexed tongue
ch a consomant, as 'ch'
in ‘church’, strongly aspirated and retroflexed
consonant, as 'sh' in ‘shore’, retroflexed
z a consonant, as
'ts' but not aspirated
c a consonant, as 'ts' in ‘bats’,