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Hanyu Pinyin, or simply pinyin, is the most common romanization system for Standard Chinese. In official documents, it is referred to as the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet. It is the official system used in China and Singapore, and by the United Nations. Its use has become common when transliterating Standard Chinese mostly regardless of region, though it is less ubiquitous in Taiwan. It is used to teach Standard Chinese, normally written with Chinese characters, to students already familiar with the Latin alphabet. The system makes use of diacritics to indicate the four tones found in Standard Chinese, though these are often omitted in various contexts, such as when spelling Chinese names in non-Chinese texts, or when writing non-Chinese words in Chinese-language texts. Pinyin is also used by various input methods on computers and to categorize entries in some Chinese dictionaries. The word Hànyǔ (汉语; 漢語) literally means 'Han language'—meaning, the Chinese language—while pīnyīn (拼音) literally means 'spelled sounds'.
|This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.
|Scheme for the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet
|The scheme of the spelled sounds of the Han language
|Romanization of Chinese
Hanyu Pinyin was developed in the 1950s by a group led by Chinese linguists including Wang Li, Lu Zhiwei, Li Jinxi, Luo Changpei and Zhou Youguang, who based their work in part on earlier romanization systems. The system was originally promulgated at the Fifth Session of the First National People's Congress in 1958, and has seen several rounds of revisions since. The International Organization for Standardization propagated Hanyu Pinyin as ISO 7098 in 1982, and the United Nations began using it in 1986. Attempts to make Hanyu Pinyin the standard in Taiwan occurred in 2002 and 2009, and while the system has been official since the latter attempt, Taiwan largely has no standardized spelling system.
The pronunciations and spellings of Chinese words are generally given in terms of initials and finals, which represent the language's segmental phonemic portion, rather than letter by letter. Initials are initial consonants, whereas finals are all possible combinations of medials (semivowels coming before the vowel), a nucleus vowel, and coda (final vowel or consonant).
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