Beijing pronunciation with a 'dʒ' sound

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daniar

Senior Member
Bulgarian
Hello native English speakers. I was looking for the pronunciation of the word ' Beijing ' and found this in Wikipedia : 'Beijing  (pronounced /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ (deprecated template)or /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ in English'. How can /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ be not recommended when all dictionaries, including the OED and the Merriam - Webster Dictionary, give this transcription either being the first option together with /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ (m-w.com) or the only given way (the OED)? Besides, a lot of sites, such as http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/08/16/how-to-pronounce-beijing-nbc-seems-unsure/, say just the opposite, /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ is the incorrect way of pronouncing the city name and /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ is the appropriate one. Was the person to write the article in Wikipedia right in saying that Beijing pronounced with a 'dʒ' sound is a 'deprecated template'?
 
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  • aasheq

    Senior Member
    English (Estuary)
    Hello native English speakers. I was looking for the pronunciation of the word ' Beijing ' and found this in Wikipedia : 'Beijing (pronounced /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ (deprecated template)or /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ in English'.
    I cannot find this in Wikipedia; perhaps it has already been corrected. Anyway, Beijing is a Chinese name and we should be asking how it is pronounced in Chinese. I do not really care how it is pronounced in Colorado.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I cannot find this in Wikipedia; perhaps it has already been corrected. Anyway, Beijing is a Chinese name and we should be asking how it is pronounced in Chinese. I do not really care how it is pronounced in Colorado.
    What you care about was not on my mind when I replied to daniar's question - a question that was addressed to native English-speakers. :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Hello native English speakers. I was looking for the pronunciation of the word ' Beijing ' and found this in Wikipedia : 'Beijing (pronounced /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ (deprecated template)or /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ in English'. How can /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ be not reccommended when all dictionaries, including the OED and the Merriam - Webster Dictionary, give this transcription either being the first option together with /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ (m-w.com) or the only given way (the OED)? Besides, a lot of sites, such as http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/08/16/how-to-pronounce-beijing-nbc-seems-unsure/, say just the opposite, /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ is the incorrect way of pronouncing the city name and /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ is the appropriate one. Was the person to write the article in Wikipedia right in saying that Beijing pronounced with a 'dʒ' sound is a 'deprecated template'?
    I'm not sure where you got your information on the Wikipedia entry, but the one I just found starts with
    where it is quite clear that it is bay-jing, not beige-ing. However, as is common around the world, many speakers of other languages will not say it the way the natives say it in their own city. For example, if we wished to say it as the pronunciation guide suggests, we should use a significantly higher pitch when we say "jing", and some would opine that not using different pitches would be "incorrect" - if the only correct way is the "native" way. So we compromise - some following everything except the pitch, to give the NBC version of Bay-jing (in your link) - possibly with the stress (but not the pitch change) on the jing, possibly not. Others say it how they have always heard it (after it was no longer Peking:eek:).

    So is your question "How do they say it in Beijing?", "How should we say it in English?" or "How do we say it in English?". Owlman's answer was to the third version question, but aasheq obviously thinks it must be the first or second version:D Please let us know which you are asking!
     

    loghrat

    Senior Member
    British English / Danish
    This question has intrigued me ever since I studied Chinese (Mandarin) many years ago.

    1. The Chinese pronounce it with -jing (as in jingle bells), so in my opinion that should be the preferred option
    (though non-native speakers should not be expected to worry about the tonal element of the pronunciation:eek:).

    2. It seems to me that if an English speaker had never seen the word before, they would opt for the 'j' of jingle bells pronunciation.

    Taking 1 and 2 into consideration I have always wondered where the pronunciation with the 'j' pronounced as in the French 'je' came from ?
     
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    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I pronounce it "Bay-shing". "Bay" as the word, "shing" as in the word "sing" with a "sh" sound. I do apologize if we're mispronouncing it. It's fairly common to do so when we assimilate foreign words into another language.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    It seems to me that the 'j' of jingle bells would be the way English speakers would pronouce the word if they had never seen it before
    That certainly seems reasonable.

    Where did the pronunciation with the 'j' pronounced as in the French 'je' come from ?
    I don't know, but that pronunciation is widespread over here.
     

    reer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    As far as sound recognition is concerned, /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ is closer to the original than /beɪˈʒɪŋ/. I hear more air friction in /dʒ/. I believe both are recognizable to native Mandarin speakers.

    Edit: Of course, neither of them is the proper sound in pinyin. Only passable in foreign way.
     
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    daniar

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Here is the link to the site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Wavejava/testWikitext . Well in my learning experience in the language I've heard the city name being pronounced by native speakers of English both with a 'j' and 'dj' sound. My confusion comes from that Wikipedia says the second option of pronouncing is not recommended when many sites and reer too say this version is closer to how this word is pronounced in China. This is why I don't see any reason to consider it a 'deprecated template'.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Well, spare a thought for those of us who have only just got used to it not being transliterated as "Peking" any more. :D

    Seriously, I'd say this simply reflects the problem of trying to produce an accurate rendition of how native speakers say the name of something written using a different alphabet/script, and possibly not even pronounced consistently amongst themselves anyway.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi daniar
    I don't think the superscript phrase "deprecated template" in your link implies that the pronunciation with 'dj' is not recommended. "Deprecated template" seems to be* a technical Wiki term indicating that something is to be replaced: I don't know what it refers to here.

    ---------
    *or rather "seems to have been": it appears from the Wiki page I've linked to that the term "deprecated template" has itself been replaced;)
     
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    reer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Well, spare a thought for those of us who have only just got used to it not being transliterated as "Peking" any more. :D

    Seriously, I'd say this simply reflects the problem of trying to produce an accurate rendition of how native speakers say the name of something written using a different alphabet/script, and possibly not even pronounced consistently amongst themselves anyway.
    I don't think "Peking—>Beijing" historically reflects that there is a pronunciation inconsistency among native Mandarin speakers. It is more about from whom the first bunch of Western visitors to China heard the city of 北京 in the first place. Pinyin "j" can be pronounced a bit differently by some Chinese dialect speakers. Cantonese, for example.

    Perhaps I misunderstand what you wanted to say. If so, I apologize. Anyone who has learned how to pronounce pinyin won't get confused. By using Latin characters, Pinyin is a great help in getting proper Mandarin pronunciations.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The /ʒ/ or zh pronunciation has been described as a hyperforeignism, to do with
    an unsuccessful attempt to apply the rules of a foreign language to a loan word (for example, the application of the rules of one language to a word borrowed from another) or, occasionally, a word believed to be a loan word
    The Mandarin Chinese consonant is closer to English /ʤ/ as in jam.

    British phonetician John Wells mentions this in his blog:
    While we are thinking about it, the Beijing Olympics seems an excellent opportunity to persuade the BBC to get the pronunciation of Beijing right (ie with dʒ rather than ʒ in the middle). How difficult is it to use a perfectly ordinary sequence of English phonemes beɪdʒɪŋ in saying a name?
    and he also quotes the BBC pronunciation unit:
    Beijing, capital of China
    bay-jing
    The pronunciation bay-zhing is common, but not correct. A Chinese j is never pronounced zh.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Beijing is a Chinese name and we should be asking how it is pronounced in Chinese. I do not really care how it is pronounced in Colorado.
    And I don't care how it's pronounced in China: I speak English: to pronounce the word Chinese-fashion in the middle of a chunk of English would sound absurd.
    Well, spare a thought for those of us who have only just got used to it not being transliterated as "Peking" any more.
    :)thumbsup: I'm sticking with /ˌpi:ˈkɪŋ/.)
     

    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    And I don't care how it's pronounced in China: I speak English: to pronounce the word Chinese-fashion in the middle of a chunk of English would sound absurd.

    :)thumbsup: I'm sticking with /ˌpi:ˈkɪŋ/.)
    How do you pronounce Arkansas? "English" or Native American, because that's how it's pronounced. This is not off-topic, this is an analogy!:)
     

    loghrat

    Senior Member
    British English / Danish
    And I don't care how it's pronounced in China: I speak English: to pronounce the word Chinese-fashion
    in the middle of a chunk of English would sound absurd.
    ewie, by 'Chinese-fashion' do you mean including the tonal elements ?

    Because if you do, that's not what we are talking about here, as far as I understand.

    The point being discussed is whether, in English, the 'j' in Beijing, should be pronounced as we generally pronounce 'j' (as in 'jingle bells') or whether it should be pronounced like the 'j' of French 'je'.

    As the English 'j' is very close to the pinyin 'j', don't worry, you won't sound absurd at all.:D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    How do you pronounce Arkansas?
    I pronounce it as it's pronounced in English (not that I say it terribly often:cool:)
    ewie, by 'Chinese-fashion' do you mean including the tonal elements ?
    I mean 'pronounce it as if I was saying the word in Chinese':) I think it's immaterial how the word is pronounced in Chinese: I pronounce it as it's pronounced in English. (Well, I would if I ever said it:p)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I expect you use the Lanky pronunciation, Mr E.

    I agree that when speaking English one should use the English pronunciation. It matters not a fig what the locals call it. The same goes for Paris.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I expect you use the Lanky pronunciation
    For the benefit of the uninitiated ;) - this "Lanky" is a local colloquialism for Lancashire, which is a county in England.

    I have never attempted to pronounce "Beijing" as the Chinese do, because:
    1) I have never heard the Chinese pronunciation of "Beijing";
    2) I would probably make a complete hash (mess) of the tones;
    3) Even if I mastered that pronunciation, it would sound preposterous and pretentious in an English sentence.

    I pronounce "Beijing" with the "j" of "jingle".
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Just to make the point:

    I had an admirable Russian pupil. When she came to dinner with me, she knew I would ask her to say Murmansk. The other guests were invited to guess what Russian city he was referring to. Not many of them had the least idea.

    Do please tell me that this was a vicious cruel insensitive game and likely to lead to an outbreak of hostilities between our countries. She was as amused as I was at the difficulties people had in guessing.

    I live and work in France. When talking French, I use the French pronunciation of English place names, and avoid the English tonic accent. These things are a part of the language, like Aie! for Ow!, indicating pain. When I wish to speak of a place which is not well known to many French people, like Lower Piddle on the Marsh in Gloucestershire, I try to use a pronunciation which they will be able to construe, or I think of something else to talk about.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Whenever I hear the pronunciation with /ʒ/ on the BBC, my heart sinks.
    As pointed out by natkretep (#16), the BBC pronunciation unit gives the correct pronunciation and ignorance is no excuse.

    Unlike Hong Kong, the Chinese version of which does not use h or k, there is no tradition of anglicising Beijing, which has not been around for very long.
    The incorrect pronuncation cannot be justified by saying, for example, that we pronounce Paris with an s at the end.

    Added: I must declare a possible prejudice here as I am familiar with the rules of Chinese pronunciation. I have no tolerance when it comes to the pronuncation of Beijing. :)
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'm curious how many of the English speakers participating in this thread go up a pitch (or however many they do in Beijing) - when saying the word as part of an English conversation? Or when saying the word as part of a conversation in Chinese?
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I don't think we can make an analogy with Paris/Paree, where we're talking about the English name for the French capital.
    The spelling Beijing came into being at the and of the 1970s, when the Chinese government, tired of seeing every nation writing Chinese proper names according to its own phonetics, issued a list of standardised spellings with clear instructions as to how to pronounce each letter. If the English-speaking world put aside "Peking" it was to comply as nearly as possible with the Chinese request. So I think we can talk about the "English pronunciation of Beijing" only where these sounds present particular difficulty for English-speakers. Neither of the two sounds in question ('j' of 'jig' and 'g' of 'beige') present any difficulty for English-speakers.
     

    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    I don't think we can make an analogy with Paris/Paree, where we're talking about the English name for the French capital.
    Seconded.
    The comparison with cities like Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Vienna and Prague is rather lopsided as those topographical names have existed in English for centuries and are by no means only about pronunciation. By contrast, Peking​ was an inappropriate rendition of a Chinese word in Roman characters.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm not quite sure what your point is, Schimmelreiter.

    As I said before, I think daniar's original question was based on a misapprehension. But since we've moved on to the general question "how is 'Beijing' pronounced in English?" then I think it's unarguable that there are two common pronunciations in English, and that neither of them is exactly equivalent to how it's pronounced in Chinese. When I'm speaking English, I don't pronounce "Berlin" in the same way I pronounce it when I'm speaking German; when I'm speaking English, I don't pronounce "Madrid" in the way I pronounce it when speaking Spanish. And if I spoke Chinese, which - sadly - I don't, I'm sure I would pronounce "Beijing" differently in Chinese and in English.

    Personally (in English;)) I pronounce "Beijing" with a /ʤ/, though I've certainly heard the /ʒ/ pronunciation. (I think nat's right, by the way, in his suggestion that the /ʒ/ pronunciation is a hyperforeignism:).)
     

    Schimmelreiter

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    I'm not quite sure what your point is
    I don't think you pronounce Berlin or Madrid "differently" but you pronounce the English names that exist for those cities when you speak English. In the cases of Berlin, Madrid and Paris, you just can't see that they are the English names as they don't look different from their German, Spanish and French counterparts, respectively. That's why I referred to the English names of Rome, Lisbon, Vienna and Prague, where everybody can ​see they are English names. By contrast, I don't think there's really an English name for Beijing /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/ but we've simply for a very long time been misled by an inappropriate Latinisation of the city's name. Now that we know we should really pronounce it /beɪˈdʒɪŋ/.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah, so you're suggesting that in English, "Beijing" should be pronounced with a /ʤ/?

    Well, the BBC pronunciation unit - and the British phonetician John Wells - agree with you:D.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think we (prescritivists) have reached a consensus on the sound of the j and it has quite a bit of d in front of it (let's not quibble about how much h there is after it).

    (The following may need its own thread: I'll let the other mods debate that:eek:) Now, how about the ng at the end - how much g should we use? The Chinese speaker, in the wiki "listen" link above, uses very little g (almost jin, and certainly not the full "English" jing). Perhaps a "closer" transcription would be Beijin' ? And after all the wrangling on the j, it seems a bit suprising that we seem to find it acceptable that we can completely ignore the pitch change in the Chinese version when we say it in English:D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Who are the Chinese to tell us how to pronounce our language anyway?
    Exactly, Mr T:thumbsup: especially when:
    (1) From what I gathered in some reading on the subject (before I got heartily sick of it all), including in this thread where the subject of Beijing/Peking came up, the Pinyin system of transliteration is, to put it mildly, kind of dodgy;
    and
    (2) particularly especially, when Anglophones who would fling their skirts over their heads in horror at the very thought of being dictated to by an equivalent of the French Académie are so willing to roll over on their backs and [okay, Ewie, we get the point].

    By the way, Schimmelreiter, I don't agree with you one bit on this subject:(
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I thought this thread was about the pronunciation of Beijing, not the name by which it was formerly known in English.
    Yes but, yes but ...

    If we're talking about how it should be pronounced - as distinct from the way it is pronounced - there's nat's post in the thread referenced by ewie:
    [...]

    Ewie: I'm with you on Peking/Beijing - there are no voiced consonants in Mandarin Chinese (except the nasals m, n and ng), so the conventional English pronunciation with the 'b' and 'zh' sounds depart from the Chinese sounds. The French pronunciation of Pékin is close, so in fact saying Peking might be preferable!
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    In the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, it is /beɪˈʒɪŋ/ which is shown as a questionable pronunciation. The obelus (the symbol ÷) before that variant marks a pronunciation which, even though used by standard speakers, is deprecated by a number of other standard speakers. Other examples of such a pronunciation are the 4-syllable pronunciation of mischievous and the "nucular" pronunciation of nuclear.
     
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    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Who are the Chinese to tell us how to pronounce our language anyway?
    They have no right at all and, if you wish to continue with the English name, by all means say Peking (not all countries have adopted the new spelling; at the time of the Beijing Olympics many Italians had never seen this strange name before). On the other hand, if you accept the modern Chinese spelling it is assumed that you voluntarily want to adopt the Chinese pronunciation as nearly as possible.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    The city has not been renamed, just respelled. Pronounce "Beijing" just as you pronounce "Peking", "Pei4 Ching1", or any other spelling of the same word. A pronuncation with first vowel "ei" as in "eight" is more accurate than one with first vowel "ee" as in "bee", and the tones are important in Chinese. For the intended Chinese sound, the first consonant is a very soft "p", as in "spade", not a hard one, as in "paid", and the second consonant is not "zh" but something more like a soft "k" as in "walkingstick" or "ch" as in "munching".

    The first syllable is properly pronounced down low and the second with a level tone ("sung" on a single note) roughly in the middle of the speaker's range.

    I think the source of the "zh" pronunciation is that in the spelling system that gave us "Peking", the letter "j" represents a sound like "zh" and initial "r", now written "r". In that old spelling system, a hard "p" was written with a reversed apostrophe after it and "p" without that mark was the soft "p" sound now written "b".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    But we're talking about pronouncing it in English, not Mandarin. I would pronounce Beijing and Peking differently: /ˈbeɪdʒɪŋ/ and /ˈpiːkɪŋ/. I don't see the need to conform completely to Mandarin pronunciation here. The Chinese understand this well. For example, if I said it in Cantonese, I'd say /pak kɪŋ/. And if a Mandarin speaker referred to London in Mandarin, they would say /lun tun/.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I've been studying Mandarin recently. In their phonetic spelling (pinyin), Beijing is "bei-jing". Their J sound (spelled 'j' or 'zh' in pinyin, depending on what vowel follows it) sounds identical to my 'J' to me.

    To hear the correct Mandarin pronunciation, just go to google translate (translate.google.com), select English on the left and Chinese on the right. Then type "Beijing" in the English part, and click on the audio on the chinese side.

    The city's name "bei-jing" is derived from two common words: "bei" (north) and "jing" (capital).
     
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