[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
From: Ben Creisler email@example.com
Subject: Chinese pronunciation
Just to set the record straight, I never indicated to
anybody that qilong should be pronounced chee-lyoong--the
syllable "lyoong" does not occur in Mandarin Chinese to my
knowledge. I checked my copies of the email I sent to
Jaime and don't see a "y" inserted into "loong." Weird
linguistic gremlins have been having fun somewhere in
cyberspace I guess. The combination "qilong" in pinyin
comes out approximately chee-loong in English
pronunciation, as confirmed in ES's email. (Actually
the "ch" sound in this case is pronounced with the tongue
further forward in the mouth and raised more toward the
palate than in English, followed by a stronger puff of
breath than in English.) To get technical, the "oo" sound
in pinyin "long" should be short as in English "look" or
German "jung." My pronunciation guide posted at
Dinosauria On-line is a bit inconsistent on this point. I
originally wanted "u" by itself to stand for the sound
in "put" or "look," contrasting with long "oo" in "boot"
and "uh" for the short u-sound in "putt," "cut." However,
using "ung" to indicated the pronunciation of "ong" in
Chinese names is too easily confused with the sound in
English "lung"--I've now started using "oong" as the
better way to indicate the approximate sound in Chinese.
Since names derived from Chinese are a major item for new
birds and dinosaurs, a few comments about pronunciation
might be in order. Recent names are almost always based on
the pinyin transcription of place names, Chinese words, or
personal names. The trickiest items include the letters x
(pronounced like "sh"), q (pronounced like "ch"), c
(pronounced like "ts" with a puff of breath), z
(pronounced like "dz"), zh (pronounced like "j"
in "jump"). To add to the complexity, the vowel "e" has
two sounds: like "uh" except after the letters "i" or "y,"
when it's pronounced like "eh." The combination "ou" is
like English "oh" (so Hou is pronounced "hoh") while
pinyin "o" by itself is like "aw." The letter "i" can have
four sounds: like "ee" after x, q, j, y, l, m, n, b, p, d,
t; like American English "uhr" after sh, r, zh, ch;
like "uh" (or better yet, a buzzing sound like "zzz")
after c, z, s; and like "y" before other vowels.
Potentially confusing are the combinations eng
(pronounced "uhng" as in English "young"), ang
(pronounced "ahng" as in English "song"), ong
(pronounced "oong" as in German "jung")--so Dong is
pronounced "doong" (NOT like English "dong"), gang is
pronounced "gahng" (like English "gong," NOT like
English "gang) and leng is pronounced "luhng" (like
English "lung," NOT like in English "length). Chinese
combinations of vowels are usually pronounced as
diphthongs or triphthongs: "iao" (pronounced "yow" all in
one syllable); "ian" pronounced "yen" all in one syllable.
An apostrophe is used to show vowels that should be
separate, thus the distinction between xian
(pronounced "shyen" in one syllable) and xi'an
(pronounced "shee-ahn" in two syllables). A really careful
speaker might observe some other differences (including
the distinction between "u" pronounced "oo" and "u"
pronounced like in French), but the above items are the
ones most likely to lead English speakers astray.
This survey of pinyin does not apply to pronouncing names
romanized in the Wade-Giles or Postal Atlas system.
Shantungosaurus is Wade-Giles and should be pronounced
shahn-doong-o-SAWR-us (NOT shan-tuhng-o-SAWR-us);
Tsintaosaurus seems to be some Russianized version of the
Postal Atlas system, so I go with the etymology (named for
Qingdao) and recommend ching-dow-SAWR-us, which a Chinese
speaker would recognize (it's called Qingdaolong "Qingdao
dragon" in Chinese).
Just to show how sticky trying to follow the Chinese
pronunciation can get, the bird Boluochia should be
pronounced bwaw-lwaw-CHUHR-uh--it's named for Boluochi
(pronounced bwaw-lwaw-chuhr). Since speakers of American
English can approximate the "r"-like sound of "i" in
pinyin "chi," I think it's best to keep it.