Standard Chinese phonology

This article summarizes the phonology (the sound system, or in more general terms, the pronunciation) of Standard Chinese (Standard Mandarin).

Standard Chinese phonology is based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. Actual pronunciation varies widely among speakers, as they introduce elements of their native varieties (although television and radio announcers are chosen for their ability to produce the standard variety). Elements of the sound system include not only the segments – the vowels and consonants – of the language but also the tones that are applied to each syllable. Standard Chinese has four main tones, in addition to a neutral tone used on weak syllables.

This article represents phonetic values using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), noting correspondences chiefly with the Pinyin system for transcription of Chinese text. For correspondences with other systems, see the relevant articles, such as Wade–Giles, Bopomofo (Zhuyin), Gwoyeu Romatzyh, etc., and Romanization of Chinese.

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