Pinyin pronunciation: j, q, x in non-Chinese speaking countries

Ghabi

Senior Member
Cantonese
Hello! I wonder what are the most common ways to pronounce the Mandarin consonant series j, q, x in the non-Chinese speaking countries (by the news broadcasters as well as the common folk)? For example, when reading out the names of Chinese political leaders or Chinese place names? Thanks a lot!
 
  • Nouus-rxf

    Senior Member
    standard french
    Hello,

    From my own experience (= playing Dynasty warriors III quite a lot when I was younger), I used to pronounce "q" like "k", "j" ~like "r" and "x" like "ks/gs", in pinyin. For example, Xiahou Dun was "gsia-oo-doon". ^^

    Also, I've never heard french people saying correctly "Hu Jintao". It's always "oo-jin-ta-o". Same for "Shanghai", it's called "shang-gai" on tv and pretty much everywhere.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Hello,

    From my own experience (= playing Dynasty warriors III quite a lot when I was younger), I used to pronounce "q" like "k", "j" ~like "r" and "x" like "ks/gs", in pinyin. For example, Xiahou Dun was "gsia-oo-doon". ^^
    Yah...Listening to them calling Caocao "cow-cow" is pretty interesting... XD
     

    Nouus-rxf

    Senior Member
    standard french
    Ha ha, I had forgot this one !

    Several ways were used in an attempt to write chinese phonetically... wade-gilles and pinyin are only the most well-known. Because of that, many of the chinese places and names have more than one spelling : pékin/peiking/beijing - Mao Zedong/Tsé-tung - Taibei/Taipei - Confucius/KongFuXi (old one), etc.
     

    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    Pronunciations are usually highly dependent of the particular romanization used: pīnyīn, Wade-Giles, the old Chinese postal system romanization, or idiosyncratic romanizations.

    If you're asking about specifically pīnyīn's ‹j, q, x›, they're in general terms read in whatever way these three letters are pronounced in the languages in question.

    This means that in English, ‹j› is usually [dʒ] as in "jam", ‹q› is [k] as in cake, ‹x› is [ks] as in sphinx. "Beijing" is a notable exception—many people pronounce it with a [ʒ] sound like the ‹s› in "pleasure" as an artificial foreignization, basically identifying it with French. Many others do pronounce it with a [dʒ] sound as in "jam" though.

    In French, ‹j› is [ʒ], ‹q› is [k] and ‹x› is [ks] as Nouus-rxf explained.

    In Spanish it depends a lot on the familiarity with a name and if the person knows a little Mandarin or not... In names you hear a lot in media like "Beijing" and "Hu Jintao", the ‹j› is pronounced with /ʝ/: /bei.ˈʝing, ˈxu ʝin.ˈta.o/. As you Ghabi may know already, /ʝ/ varies quite a bit per region, some would use [ʝ], others [j] or [dʒ] in these two examples. I've no idea how people from the Río de la Plata do it considering their /ʝ/ is [ʃ]—I'll open a thread in the Spanish forum. Many would pronounce a ‹j› as /x/ when encountering a name with itthough, but then again, as a Spanish speaker you practically never encounter the necessity to read names like "Jilin", and if you do you probably know some Mandarin anyway. ‹q› is usually [k] and ‹x› is [s] or [ks].

    (I wonder if there's anybody else in the world who pronounces ‹Xiangqi› as [ˈsiantsi] like I do instead of [ˈ(k)siaŋki]...)
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    From my own experience (= playing Dynasty warriors III quite a lot when I was younger), I used to pronounce "q" like "k", "j" ~like "r" and "x" like "ks/gs", in pinyin.
    Hi and thanks!:) But what do you mean by "j ~like r", like the r in French rue?

    If you're asking about specifically pīnyīn's ‹j, q, x›,
    Yeah, I'm talking about reading out the pinyin letters.:)
    they're in general terms read in whatever way these three letters are pronounced in the languages in question.
    Yeah again, but I was wondering if there are some further twists to the problem.
    as a Spanish speaker you practically never encounter the necessity to read names like "Jilin" ...
    Erm, suppose you're traveling in China?
    <q› is usually [k] and ‹x› is [s] or [ks].
    Actually I was wondering whether Spanish speakers would say [ʃ] for <x> as in the name Xavi.:D
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    And how can I know where you're going to if you say [jilin]?:D Seriously, I started this thread because sometimes I've difficulty in understanding what the radio news is about when the topic comes to Chinese stuff. Now the tones are already omitted, how can I guess the proper names right when the consonants are also warped (unless I happen to be familiar with the topic in question, of course)?

    And I single out the series <j, q, x> as it seems to me that it particularly throws people off (cf. this thread). <j> can be pronounced in so many ways in the European languages ... and <q> should be followed by its <u>, what on earth do you mean by qi? ... and don't even mention such a ten-point word as xiao! Well, of course the same kind of confusion can occur out of any writing system, and I'm not exactly complaining ... just curious.:)
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    And I single out the series <j, q, x> as it seems to me that it particularly throws people off (cf. this thread). <j> can be pronounced in so many ways in the European languages ... and <q> should be followed by its <u>, what on earth do you mean by qi? ... and don't even mention such a ten-point word as xiao! Well, of course the same kind of confusion can occur out of any writing system, and I'm not exactly complaining ... just curious.:)
    This is the kind of advice we often get on how to understand the news in the language we're learning: listen to the same kind of news in your own language before you listen to it in the language you're learning. This will greatly facilitate understanding because you're already familiar with the news being broadcast. This can also apply to you Ghaby, so that when you hear Chinese names being said by foreign newscasters, you should be able to guess what names are meant.
     

    indigoduck

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello! I wonder what are the most common ways to pronounce the Mandarin consonant series j, q, x in the non-Chinese speaking countries (by the news broadcasters as well as the common folk)? For example, when reading out the names of Chinese political leaders or Chinese place names? Thanks a lot!

    Despite all the talk out there, i truly believe the romanization for the "x" sound came from portuguese. Macau?

    Take a look at this post.

    Take a look here for explanation of Q, X. I'm not sure where J comes from.

    Unfortunately the "s" letter was already taken. I think using "x" was the only unused letter to prevent "multi letters" (like sh) to represent the consonant.
     
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    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    In Italy j is read as y or sometimes english j, q is read as /k/ sometimes /kw/ (because they think it is an error for the missing u), x is read as /ks/ and all the ang, eng, ing, ong, they do pronounce the g as french people, shanghai is pronounced shan-gai
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Hello, here in Central Europe it is not a problem, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and Polish (other Slavic languages) have very similar (or the same) sounds (English do not know at all), Polish has all the three sounds and what's more even a voiced pair of the x. Czech and Hungarian uses plosives instead of the affricates.
     
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