Pronunciation Key:

• Letters here are as spoken in normal everyday English usage
• Capital letters are a capital letter sound, wherever they appear in a word
• All basic sounds are a flat phonetic sound
• Double letters, especially vowels, mean a longer flatter sound
• ‘I’ is a very common upper case letter. Do not confuse with lower case 'l'('L'). It is not a rising sound
• ‘i’ indicates a rising sound
• ‘y’ indicates a flat sound
• Hyphen: A nasal sound that defines how the following letter is pronounced
• Apostrophe: The following consonants embrace the sound of the preceding letter; especially “d’zh”
The basics are that simple!

• Chinese languages do not use Male or Female words
• Plurals are usually stated as ‘so many of one thing’
• Most consonants that finish a word are either silent or less than 20% sounded
• The last word of a clause or sentence is often very exaggerated and ‘tuneful’. Hence ‘-ah’ and ‘-la’ are very commonly added. There are others in common usage, such as ‘-na’ etc
• Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese) can be read by all Chinese people, irrespective of the language they actually speak. This is 'Mega'!
• The only other Official language of the Chinese Mainland is Cantonese, which has it's own set of characters - ones most other Mainlanders will not understand fully. These 'Traditional' characters are used liberally in this guide - which is all about 'Cantonese' after all

Special Sounds
You will need to master several basic sounds, sorry:
• ‘xi’ = ‘C’ sound as in ‘see’, which we have written as 'CEE'
o Mandarin people may say: ‘sh’, ‘ch’, or ‘cheer’ instead
• ‘q’ = ‘ch’ and is basically the tongue and teeth sound, like we make the sound of a train ‘cha-cha’. It can have a ‘t’ sound version also, but very hard to distinguish these apart. Therefore read ‘qin’, ‘tien’, ‘tian’ and 'chin' as being virtually the same sound. Think English ‘chin’, then listen & learn
• ‘zh’. Trying to get the ‘zh’ sound right can also be a nightmare! It is very complex for foreigners
   o Start simply by using ‘J’ as in ‘Joe’
   o Then listen to what Cantonese are actually pronouncing, and try to copy them for each word
• The Chinese characters determine the ‘zh’ sound as being intoned as either:
• d’zh
• z’zh
• t’zh is often used in Hong Kong
• 'zhou is a Mandarin word. The correct Cantonese is 'zhao' (zh + 'ow' as in 'that hurts')
   o You have probably cracked this sound, if you can make a ‘J’ sound like a buzzing Bee– Then add a 5% consonant conditioner sound in front!
• Special mention for the word ‘zhou’, the name of an ancient Empire, and number 6 most common out of all Chinese surnames. It is Cantonese, and should always be pronounced ‘zhao’ instead = ‘jaow’ not ‘Jo’
• 'e' lowercase is most often a very short sound that is only just audible upon examination of the word. This is especially true when 'i' and 'n' are together as in 'lin'. The true pronunciation is 'lien' with 10% 'e'. Apply this rule also when 'e' is before or after 'o'
Cantonese generally pronounce the vowels: e, o, and u as capital letter sounds, with a and i usually being phonetic.

Questions: Ying and Yang
1. Later you will realise that all questions are of the form:
   a. ‘Do you, do you not’ = ‘Yes or “Not yes”’ = ‘xxx, mmm xxx’
      i. ‘Not Yes’ is the opposite of ‘Yes’
      ii. ‘No’ has a different meaning, and is not an antonym of ‘Yes’

2. "Why do chinese pronounce jin as jean"?
   a. This is taken from our website searches for March 2010, and is as the last item above. To explain we need first to understand that each of the basic 40, 000 Chinese characters has a specific character of its own, and a specific pronunciation.Each one is learnt at school individually!
   b. There is no western equivalent, and the ways of writing Chinese using the English alphabet are at best approximate. Mandarin written in English is called 'pinyin', whilst Hong Kong Cantonese written in English is called 'jyutping'. Guangzhou Cantonese has never been written in English until now in these pages; and is markedly different from jyutping.
   c. When Jin is pronounced as if it were 'Jean', then first you need to know it is a Guangzhou Cantonese pronunciation. If you listen very carefully, or ask a local to speak the word very slowly, you will realise it is actually best spelt 'jien'. As with lin above, the 'e' sound is very short, and is a Capital 'E' sound. The perfect way to write this in English would be ji'en (Remember the 'n' is a nasal tone also). 'Jin' is the Mandarin 'pinyin' spelling which is universal throughout China. Therefore Cantonese readers of 'pinyin' would see the Mandarin word, but pronounce it differently.


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