I am new to Chinese, have been studying it for almost a year or so. I noticed that a lot of Chinese music videos have subtitles in a modified version of pinyin that has many distinct features from commonly used Hanyu Pinyin. Some of these features include:

  • Initial consonants that would be voiced in English (which represent unvoiced, unaspirated consonants in Mandarin) are replaced with their unvoiced counterparts. (Ex. 'b-' --> 'p-', 'd-' --> 't-', 'g-' --> 'k-')
  • Those that are already aspirated are followed by an h (Ex. 'p-' --> 'ph-', 'c-' --> 'ch-')
  • In many cases, the initial 'r-' is changed (Ex. 如 ru --> lu, 讓 rang --> jang)
  • '-ng' endings sometimes change to '-n' (Ex. 冷 leng --> len while 窗 chuang stays the same)
  • 'x-' and 'sh-' become 's-', and 'zh-', 'z-' and 'j-' become 'c-'. Some of these initials are followed by an i (Ex. 上 shang --> siang)
  • '-ao' becomes '-au', and other vowel final changes (Ex. 時 shi --> se, 麼 me --> mo, 自 zi --> ce)

Here is a video which has subtitles in this modified version of Hanyu Pinyin.


I have researched different Mandarin romanization methods, but this does not come up. Does anyone know what this version is called and where it is used in the world, as well as important features I missed? If so, please respond.

  • 1
    This has some commonalities with Wade Giles and with EFEO, but given how it's inconsistent (and merges syllables which are distinct in standard Mandarin), I doubt it's following a systematic romanization method. (Or if it is, it's not one that's based on MSM.) Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 0:50
  • 冷 leng --> len while 窗 chuang stays the same doesn't make sense in Standard Mandarin, as both end with ŋ in Standard Mandarin. It probably isn't Standard Mandarin.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 1:36

3 Answers 3


Isn't this just an informal romanisation method to make it easier for Malay/Indonesian speakers?

In those languages:

  • c is pronounced /c/, so it can be used to approximate z/zh
  • k/t/p are unaspirated, so h needs to be added to indicate aspiration
  • au is /aw/, same as mandarin ao
  • There isn't /ɨ/ as in Mandarin but /ə/ which sounds close to it, and /ə/ is written e.

This is probably just the work of one person transcribing the music for an Indonesian audience. Pinyin has some weird spelling conventions so these adjustments help Indonesian speakers sing Mandarin songs better.

You can see this a lot with Cantonese/Hokkien songs. Mandarin is much much better in this regard.


Here we are again. Perhaps for those who have not seen the post below, please read it first.

Are the Asian girls in this music video Chinese or Malaysian, and are they singing in Chinese?

That was in Malaysia.

The present question now concerns the Republic of Indonesia which is a close neighbor of Malaysia. In the Malaysian situation you have Malaysian Chinese girls singing Mandarin songs. In the video below you have a Muslim Indonesian girl singing in Mandarin as well, (though she could be an Indonesian-Chinese mix race), and if you close your eyes, you will be hard pressed to accept she is not a Chinese girl.


In the Malaysian situation, the British were the colonialist, but in Indonesia it was the Dutch, (in the Philippines it was the Spanish)

However, just like in Malaysia, many Southern Chinese, principally from Fujian Province migrated to the Indonesian islands during the last two Centuries. The total ethnic Chinese population in Indonesia is about 1.2%, (2.8 million in 2010)

The compulsory official education is in Indonesian. The ethnic Chinese provide private tuition in the Chinese language for their children. It is also not uncommon for ethnic Indonesians to sent their children to study the Chinese language as a second language, particularly in the rural areas. (same as in Malaysia)

As for the "...modified version of Hanyu Pinyin", well, it is not Hanyu Pinyin at all, modified or otherwise. It is just the way people who have not studied Pinyin but spell it the way they heard or understood it from whatever system they studied. I, for example, have not studied Pinyin. My surname, 谢,is spelled "Cheah", and not Xiè as in Pinyin.

BTW, this is how a Malaysian who has not studied Hanyu Pinyin would spell it in the song in question, and so I have no difficulty reading it.


indonesian related.

at the start of the video, there’re word “aku mencintaimu lebih dari kamu mencintaimu” displayed together with the simplified chinese title.

a google search suggested that it’s “indonesian-detected”.

  • Just to clarify, I am talking about the Latin text on the bottom, not the Malaysian on the top.
    – ye sheng
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 12:10

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