Do you have trouble pronouncing foreign names? The Chinese ones are the
hardest. They're always something hard with lots of Q's and X's in them. Fear
not. Here is a simple pronunciation guide for Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken
in Mainland China and in Taiwan.
Chances are, if you're trying to pronounce a name in Cantonese (the other major dialect that is mainly used in Hong Kong), you won't have much trouble.
The type of phoenetic writing used here is called PinYin, or sometimes HanYu PinYin. HanYu is the national language of China, which was standardized in order to facilitate communication across the wide distances that the country spanned. The government felt that a standardized language would make it's job of centralized ruling much easier. While you'll still find areas that speak other dialects, like Hokkien and Cantonese, the standard language in China is HanYu.
PinYin is the most common form of anglicized Chinese writing. In the past, there were a few others, like Yale. This explains differences between spellings of common Chinese names, like Peking and Beijing. "Beijing" is the pinyin spelling of the word. Like most Chinese words, it is a composite, made up of bei (north) and jing (capital).
Now on with the pronunciation guide.
There are only four sets of sounds that you need to learn.
Vowel sounds are very similar to Spanish pronunciation
rules, using soft sounds.
Dipthongs follow directly from normal vowel sounds.
English-speakers have a tendency to say these backwards.
Normal consonants are pronounced just like they are in
There are only five special consonant sounds, but they
are very common.