Pinyin (拼音) is the phonetic transcription system of Mandarin that uses the Latin alphabet as its basis. It helps us, Westerners, to “interpret” the correct pronunciation of the characters, since the characters have no information about how they are pronounced. But pronouncing the characters correctly requires at least two important skills: on the one hand, listening and differentiating their sound frequencies, and on the other hand, being able to reproduce them with all their nuances. Mandarin has a musicality given by the tones and a timbre that requires making sounds with the mouth, which we Westerners find more difficult than other languages. Pinyin was created by the Chinese intellectual Zhou Youguang (周有光), called “the father of Pinyin”, as part of a program initiated in the 1950s by the Chinese government to make Mandarin the national language of China, which consisted of simplifying the character strokes and devising a new phonetic alphabet. In 1979, the I.S.O. (International Standards Organization) adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization system for Chinese.
Mandarin Chinese is a syllabic language composed of syllables made up of consonants and vowels, and each syllable has one of the four tones of Mandarin Chinese.
The syllable in Chinese has the following structure: