Every single source I come across on google list the IPA of pinyin x as /ɕ/, or the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative.

However, the sample sound on Wikipedia is quite distinct from it -- to me (born and raised in Beijing), it sounds more like pinyin sh, rather than x.

  • What is, with sources, the correct IPA for pinyin x?
  • If it is the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative, what is, with sources, the correct pronunciation of it?

I managed to find another website, which would be correct according to me, as the pinyin x's pronunciation: http://www.internationalphoneticalphabet.org/ipa-sounds/ipa-chart-with-sounds/

  • I think you should forgive the reader, as he may be reading a sound that does not exist in his mother tongue.
    – fefe
    Apr 30, 2018 at 7:35
  • 1
    The pronunciation on the website you found should be better than the Wikipedia version. Just click the IPA symbols. (claimer: I am not a linguist, but a native Chinese).
    – fefe
    Apr 30, 2018 at 7:39
  • You think this sounds like pinyin sh? I entirely disagree. Pinyin sh sounds like this.
    – dROOOze
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:25
  • @droooze well, it sounds more like sh compared to how x should sound. that's the point.
    – Zuoanqh
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:37
  • Do you think this sounds like ? Anyway your question says it sounds more like pinyin sh, rather than x, which is not the same as it sounds more like sh compared to how x should sound. These IPA transcriptions are not for one sound (which is impossible), but for a narrow range of sounds. You cannot possibly say that the Wikipedia sample sounds more like sh than x.
    – dROOOze
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


Help:IPA/Mandarin on Wikipedia has x listed like this:


Wiktionary:ɕ has audio you can listen to too.

This is a bit of a random source but here it is anyway.



WordyEnglish's Pinyin 拼音, Zhuyin 注音, IPA Comparison also shows:

enter image description here


Bopomofo letter ㄒ which represents "x" is also exclusively:

(phoneme) IPA(key): /ɕ/

From《漢語拼音方案》we can see the following:


where x again matches up with zhuyin ㄒ or IPA /ɕ/.

Sh on the other hand is listed as:


Wiktionary:ʂ also has audio you can listen too here.



As you can see the two are very close in sound, and are often confused as such by learners.

Probably the biggest difference is tongue positions:




  • This is a post about mandarin, not harbin dialect.
    – Zuoanqh
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:02
  • Yes, but it’s the closest example I could find atm. The initials are the same, you can see how they work. IPA is rarely used in Mandarin dictionaries, if I can find one I’ll update accordingly.
    – Mou某
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:11
  • Well, the sound sample you provided is the same as the wikipedia page, and in general i no longer trust wikipedia on this issue, which is why i asked this question. I am asking this question as a native speaker, by the way. But thanks for your effort.
    – Zuoanqh
    Apr 30, 2018 at 9:52
  • @Zuoanqh Yes. My point was, though, that the IPA is corroborated in published works. I know it's not a perfect example but it should answer your question.
    – Mou某
    Apr 30, 2018 at 11:11
  • I hope so. letters letters letters
    – Zuoanqh
    Apr 30, 2018 at 11:38

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