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Pronunciation of Initials

The initials can be divided into three types:

Normal: These are pronounced like in English.

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Aspirated: Pronounced like y in English, but are said with a strong puff of air at the end of the consonant.

Pronunciation Pattern: These initials don't directly correspond to any English letters or sounds. They use a pronunciation rule that has to be memorized. The initials that follow this pattern are shown as red in the left column.

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Initial

How They Sound

Pronunciation Notes

b
Like the p is spy, not the b in bye Corresponds closer to the sounds of a p
p
Like the p in pun Aspirated
m
Like the m in man  
f
Like the f in for  
d
Like the d in den  
t
Like the t in tongue Aspirated
n
Like the n in no  
l
Like the l in letter  
g
Like the k is sky, not the g in good More like a soft unaspirated k
k
Like the k in kite Aspirated
h
Like the h in hot  
j
Like the j in jeans Sounds like gee, but unaspirated
q

 

like the ch in the word reach  
x
Like the sh in she Said like a slightly longer she
z
Like the ds in buds  
c
Like the ts in cats Aspirated
s
Like s in the word sun  
zh
Like the G in German Said with your tongue pulled slightly back into your mouth. The sound is made from the back of your tongue tip (it takes a bit of getting used to). These are sometimes called the "retroflex initials"
ch
Like the zh above, but aspirated
sh
Like the sh in shoe
r
Like the r in run

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