7 thoughts on “Pinyin alphabet song

  1. Is the advantage over the traditional alphabet song the fact that you don’t have to rush out LMNOP? (They use different or altered songs for this reason sometimes in Japan.)

    Also, how come letters like R and S get two notes but, say, W only gets one? Are those letters pronounced that differently over there?

    (Also, an mp3 of someone actually singing it would be cool. Don’t you have any stage-happy kids on hand? ;)

  2. R and S are as in English. But the name of the letter W is pronounced “wah”. I have the Pinyin alphabet up as well, but it’s all in IPA.

    I wonder if the doubled notes have anything to do with the tendency of some Chinese to say el-uh and em-uh for L and M (beyond the question of Mandarin not having L and M finals, that is).

    As for the vocal version, I’m afraid that Live Aid has yet to return the children I loaned them. I won’t be making that mistake again. ;)

  3. The “v” stands for the U with the “umlaut” (sp?), as in the pinyin for ?. That’s how Windows XP’s IME works….

  4. Do you still have a copy of the 5000 Dictionary? This was my first Chinese dictionary and after all these years I still find it handy for its “General Information” like the Ten Celestial Stems, the Twelve Horary Characters, Table of Rhymes (used for days of month) etc. Its “Table of Pekingese Intial and Final Sounds” has this to say:

    There are still three other initial phonetic letters ? – V, ? – Ng, ? – Gn, which were formerly included with the abpve 24, but because they are not used in Pekingese and the New Standard National Language, they are now omitted.

    But as you can see (I hope, depending on the font your browser is using) they are alive and well in Unicode. I believe I read in Pinyinhua Wenti by Zhou Youguang that v is retained for spelling foreign words.

    About the Chinese names of the letters: haven’t these been “rendered quaint” by universal tendency of Chinese to use the English names? Do people even know the Chinese names?

  5. There are still three other initial phonetic letters ? – V, ? – Ng, ? – Gn, which were formerly included with the abpve 24….

    I have an old chart giving those three. For some background on the early days, see One State, One People, One Language, from Nationalism and Language Reform in China, by John DeFrancis.

    About the Chinese names of the letters: haven’t these been “rendered quaint” by universal tendency of Chinese to use the English names? Do people even know the Chinese names?

    The Mandarin names for the letters are how the letters are taught in China (outside of foreign-language classrooms, that is), though it’s entirely possible that more than a few teachers mistakenly use the English pronunciations, so poorly is Pinyin taught in China, alas. The increased mixing of English and romanized Mandarin is likely to further muddy the waters.

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