I'm learning Chinese on a book and it shows the words sometimes in Latin alphabet such as Ni-hao, but it doesn't show how to spell the word with the right pronunciation. Can someone help how I can learn the pronunciation and accent with the aid of the books I have?


1 Answer 1


I would consider it practically impossible to learn how to pronounce words correctly in Chinese without audio. There's many obstacles:

  • The initial x of (xū) doesn't seem to have an equivalent sound in English. (Have you heard news reporters try to pronounce 习近平 (Xí Jìnpíng)?)
  • The final u in (chū) and (qù) are pronounced differently (compare their bopomofo), despite being represented by the same letter.
  • The difference between e.g. (shàng) and (xiàng) is very subtle, likewise for nasal vs. non-nasal finals, e.g. (jīng) vs. (jīn).
  • There's also tone sandhi, where the tone changes in words,e.g. your example 你好 may be written as two third tones (nǐ hǎo) but this changes to one second tone and one third tone (ní hǎo) when its pronounced.

It may be possible to benefit from knowledge of bopomofo. However, it's like trying to fight with one arm tied behind your back. It's vastly easier to simply listen to the sound on some video (or the book's accompanying CD); there's zillions of them available free online.

  • This is probably useless information but apparently Ghanaian English‘s pronunciation of ship [ɕip] does contain the same initial as Chinese’s “x” initial.
    – Mou某
    Jul 9, 2018 at 12:26
  • Ok but why did people downvote my question? What kind of community is this?
    – Salmush
    Jul 9, 2018 at 12:42
  • Just because im a beginner
    – Salmush
    Jul 9, 2018 at 12:42
  • @SalmaanAl-Faaris I didn't downvote it, but I think it's because the question isn't super clear. Are you only trying to learn pronunciation from books? Or do you want to learn how to pronounce things properly to aid your book studies? If you make your questions more specific it will be easier for people to give you the answers you are looking for as well.
    – Mou某
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:07
  • @user3306356 read the question title again facepalm that is exactly it
    – Salmush
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:23

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