This is the story named in English "The true story of Ah Q." Author Lu Xun transliterates the pronunciation of Q as Quei, and suggests that the Q could stand for 桂, or 贵, which are today pinyin Gui4. I think Lu Xun grew up speaking a Wu dialect, but I am not sure of that. Anyway I am less concerned to know how he pronounced it.

Answers to the question How do native speakers of Chinese pronounce Latin characters? suggest it could be pronounced by the name of the Latin letter, kiùr.

How is it said today by Mandarin speakers in China?

  • 1
    I'm from Fuzhou, everyone around says Q as how it is pronounced in English
    – user58955
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 20:53
  • @user58955 That would be a good start to an answer. Commented May 7, 2014 at 20:59
  • Your story is true, and I was told the same story by my junior high school 语文 teacher.
    – zsf222
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 6:18
  • (As no one mentions here) I would say some people would pronounce it as "阿丘正传", and it's actually, the way following the alphabet name definition in 汉语拼音方案. Anyway, I myself would pronounce it as the name of the Latin letter with the first tone in Mandarin (and I would think the more normal "fourth tone" Latin style is also OK).
    – Stan
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 8:43

4 Answers 4


Generally speaking, in modern practice, Chinese speakers pronouce mixed English letters as is. for example:


is pronouced as "wu3 ei1 ji2 jing3 qu1"

阿Q正传 is somehow different, because the author had explicitely mentioned in this novelette that Q should be pronounced as 桂 or 贵. (Note that back in the era of this novelette Chinese people were just starting to get familiar with western cultures so there was no established rules as how to incorporate English letter pronouciations in Chinese context.)

What I have experienced, when famous theatre companies present the play of 阿Q正传, they were always faithful to the original novelette and pronouced "gui4" in the play. However in daily speech, people sometimes just follow common practice and forget that this should be a special case.

  • 1
    It reminds me the pronunciation of 恪 in the name 陈寅恪. There're always controversies how this kind of special name should be pronounced. IMO, as there's actually no standard (or I miss it?), it doesn't matter for us to freely choose an acceptable one.
    – Stan
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 8:26
  • 1
    @Stan your example reminds me "万俟卨"... I had so much pain to memorize the pronounciation of that name! The pronouciation of people's names are full of unique variations which you just can't reproduce with modern tones. But that was off topic... :P
    – Rephinx
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 10:59
  • 3
    现代汉语词典 gives the pinyin for 阿Q as a1 qiu1 or a1 kiu1 . What I hear is always the latter one.
    – fefe
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 5:57

We Chinese pronounce 阿Q正传 like this:

a1 Q(exactly the same as English letter Q) zheng4 zhuan4

Q is pronounced the same as the English pronunciation of the letter Q.

Which is funny actually because a lot of mainlanders pronounce QQ (software) as "kou kou" (pinyin spelling).

edit: maybe my answer does not quite fit the criteria because my understanding is purely coming from the way people talk of 阿Q精神 —— but the 阿Q we're talking about is obviously the same...

  • Please give some background on the scope of your answer (Where you're from, who--e.g., fellow students, teachers--you've heard pronounce it that way). Commented May 8, 2014 at 0:08
  • 1
    I believe the "koukou" sound comes from some dialect.
    – Stan
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 8:19
  • Completely anecdotal, some of my friends from North-eastern China read QQ as 'koukou', while I have never heard any Southerner pronounce it that way.
    – NS.X.
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 8:29
  • @NS.X. I've heard a bunch of people over here, in the south-west, pronounce QQ as 'koukou' - I figured it was a 'national' thing...
    – Mou某
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 3:24

“Q弹”中“Q”的本字为“𩚨”,音读    khiū,近似“Q”,是台湾闽南语。  “𩚨”释义:形容食物柔软而有弹性、韧性。

𩚨, which is a Taiwanese word, means (foods are) chewy (This translation might be wrong. forgive my English please. Feel free to edit), has a similar pronunciation as English Letter Q. So this word gets its way into Mandarin speakers, and then become an unformal word Q弹(kiu1 tan2) which means chewy. The point I want to make here is that pronouncing the English letter "Q" is not an issue because there is already such a word. So 阿Q正传 is pronounced as /a1 kui1 zheng4 zhuan4/ by people today.

Ref: https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/680905255852818652.html

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