Chinese (Mandarin) use [x] to pronounce h sound. It does not have any sounds such as [h] and [ɸ].

However, I'm not sure if it is fine to assume that all the h in pinyin are pronounced as [x]. According to this question and the answer, [x] is the standard sound, but is there any case to use a different sound on the h in pinyin? If so, how can I know if it is pronounced as such, given that it is generally impossible to know which IPA sound is used in Chinese words?

  • Being pedantic, but I assume you are excluding sh-, ch-, zh- from your considerations, aren't you? – Michaelyus Apr 23 '19 at 9:27
  • @Michaelyus Aren't all of them different sounds? According to this page they are. – Blaszard Apr 23 '19 at 17:44
  • Yes they are all different, even though you write them all with "h". – Michaelyus Apr 24 '19 at 8:41
  • @Michaelyus Ah, I got what you are meaning. Yes, I excluded them. – Blaszard Apr 24 '19 at 9:11
  • Duplicate of chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/8436/… – mic Sep 20 '19 at 1:17

Yes, h = [x] (also ㄏ in bopomofo).

Wikipedia has an entire chart entitled Help:IPA/Mandarin that lists consonants:

enter image description here

and vowels

enter image description here

Many old dictionaries, especially topolectical dictionaries, used IPA or a simplified version of IPA.

Consider Li Rong's (李荣) edited Great Dictionary of Modern Chinese Dialects (现代汉语方言大词典). Here's an example from《哈尔滨方言词典》:

enter image description here

Here you can clearly see 火 is:


You can also see that the other terms are also written using IPA, albeit slightly simplified.

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  • Thanks for the answer and I saw the exact Wikipedia page. But I wonder if the chart is what is only generally applicable and has some exceptions, or can be applied to ALL words. – Blaszard Apr 23 '19 at 17:48
  • @Blaszard Yes they all generally stay the same. Otherwise you would see fluctuation in bopomofo and in pinyin. The only exceptions, would be exactly that: exceptions. For instance we get questions like: chinese.stackexchange.com/q/26801/4136 where the pronunciations of characters like 儿 and 二 are slightly different. – Mo. Apr 24 '19 at 7:02

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