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Pinyin is the most widely used romanisation of Mandarin Chinese, a writing system developed in the 1950s and adopted for mainstream use in 1958. It was originally designed to increase literacy rates in the People’s republic of China. Pinyin is taught in schools in China and is the main method for typing Chinese characters. Pinyin is used for many purposes such as teaching Chinese, writing Chinese names and places for European language speakers, and an input method for typing Chinese characters. It uses the roman alphabet along with tone markings above vowels to describe the pronunciation of Chinese syllables. The Hanyu pinyin alphabet is as follows:

  • Consonants: B, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, g, k, h, j, q, x, zh, ch, sh, r, z, c, s, y, w. Vowels: a, o, e, i, u, ü

For example: the word ‘你好’, means ‘hello’ in Chinese. Its pinyin is ‘nǐ hǎo’. Pinyin can also be written using a number after each syllable to represent the tone instead of an accent. For example, ‘nǐ hǎo’ could be written as ‘ni3 hao3’.

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