Pronouncing Latin Alphabet
Recently, a tricky question came into my mind. How do you pronounce the Latin alphabet in chinese? Suppose, you live in, let's say Taiwan, and you have got, for instance, a problem with your computer.
Then, you decide to call the customer care by phone and they want you to read the serial numer of the device, which would be something like that: Q832947GST34F. Now, how do you pronounce the letters in the serial number. Do you use the English pronunciation or is there a Chinese way to do it?
darkstar94August 26, 2012, 05:38 AM
What I have noticed is that letters or English words in Chinese seem to always be first tones. Off the top of my head I can think of rough estimations of pronunciations:
B = 逼 bī
D = 低 dī
E = 一 yī
G = 鸡 jī
L = http://chinesepod.com/lessons/buying-a-shirt listen to how they say L号
N = 恩 ēn
O = 哦
P = 批 pī
T = 踢 tī
V = wii
Y = 歪 wāi
darkstar94August 26, 2012, 10:16 AM
This guy is pretty funny, he doesn't go through the alphabet academically but it is interesting to hear his pronunications:
Just try to find a sound in Chinese that sounds similar to the letter I guess.
I don't have the advantage of Youtube so I'm missing the fun, but I notice that darkstar94 avoided some of the challenging pronunciations in his own example --- where is the q, and the s?
For some reason I think that some of them sound like you say them in French? Is that right? (My French is worse than my Chinese.)
Anyway, for what it is worth, the answer is changing as we speak - the standard English pronunciations are becoming more common, particularly in the computer world. And by that I mean English ... oh no, I've started something. I have personally corrected the pronunciation of 'z' of 32,943 Chinese nationals. :)
Thank you very much for the video links.
In this one he goes from A through to N at about 0:42 :
What is interesting is he pronounces:
C = sai3
F = something like nai-ve
H = (h)ei-chi
N = en-e (which sounds like Vietnamese)
But in his opinion, we should not use this system, which he believes was introduced by the media, but instead use the original English pronunciation. Languages are weird sometimes :-) .
I knew there was a video somewhere of him saying a bit of the alphabet, glad you found it.
"But in his opinion, we should not use this system, which he believes was introduced by the media, but instead use the original English pronunciation. Languages are weird sometimes"
In terms of this point, I think he is suggesting that for native Chinese speakers, but if you listen to what speakers actually say, then they still will pronounce letters like this. Where I got the N sound was from the song 恋爱ING by 五月天, they seem to say N like 恩.
You are right. He speaks to the Chinese audience in this respect as a pledge to change things. But if bodawei is correct, then things are changing already. I think, for the time being, we would have to expect both systems used.
I listened to the song 恋爱ING again. I almost forgot that they spell things in there ;-). They really pronounce N like 恩 and all the other letters like in English but on the other hand, it could be in fact English because in most Chinese songs they suddenly switch to English and back again. Nonetheless, it is only my humble opinion.
I don't really think it's changing that much. Sure, there are more people in Chinese that can speak English these days but it's not going to stop them from having an accent. Take India for example, their official language is English but they do generally still have their own dialect of English, which includes it own pronunication system. I don't think there is anything wrong in pronouncing letters in a Chinese accent because 1) it makes the language flow better and 2) it makes you sound more authentic and 3) it will make it easier for Chinese people to understand you. It kind of just depends on how Chinese you want to sound.
'I don't really think it's changing that much. Sure, there are more people in Chinese that can speak English these days'
I am not talking about more people speaking English, although that might have some impact. But just wanted to make clear that I'm talking about the relative ease that people use the roman alphabet, as I've already said, particularly in the computer industry. Many people use the letters as an identifier but they do not speak English, and this might be because of the education system that has them learning English from Grade 4 through to the first couple of years of university.
Of course they have an accent - perhaps because they are finding the closest sound in Chinese to use.
That the Chinese accent makes the language flow better is a very good point, I have to admit that.
I found two sources of how to pronounce roman letters. The first one is closer to the pronunciation the guy in the video uses but not identical:
But I do not know how trustworthy this source is, considering the nonsense, which is the rest of the text.
The second source is more trustworthy, but is also a completely different system:
Now, I am just completely confused and I get the suspicion that there are not one or two systems which are the result of a common agreement but instead utter chaos. Nonetheless, I think the Hanyu Pinyin Alphabet would be the "offical" one, whatever this may mean in day to day use.