Effects of hanyu pinyin on pronunciation in learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language

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This paper provides evidence that the hanyu pinyin representation of the phonology of Chinese affects the production of Chinese phonology in instructed learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language. Pinyin generally has a one-to-one correspondence between graphemes and phonemes, but its transcription of some Chinese rimes does not represent the main vowel. As a consequence, learners of Chinese as a Foreign Language have non-target-like phonological representations of Chinese rimes, which in turn lead to non-target-like pronunciations. A hanzi reading-aloud task was used to elicit syllables containing the three rimes /iou/, /uei/ and /uən/ from final-year CFL students. Results show that learners often delete the vowels that are not represented in the pinyin transcription, but they produce the same vowels in the same rimes when the pinyin transcription represents them. It is concluded that the pinyin orthographic input interacts with the phonological input in shaping the phonological representations and pronunciation of Chinese syllables in intermediate as well as beginner CFL learners. Language teachers should therefore be aware of the effects of the pinyin orthography.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cognition, Learning and Teaching of Chinese Characters
EditorsA Guder, X Jiang, Y Wan
PublisherBeijing Langauge and Culture University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • second language learning
  • second language acquisition
  • second language writing systems
  • language teaching
  • pronunciation
  • writing systems
  • orthography
  • , second language phonology

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