Chinese languages can be really simple or frustrating.
One of the often used and easiest word to write in Mandarin is 子. Phonetically notated in pinyin as zǐ (zi3) and others as tze, tzu, tzi. Yes, even the pronunciation for this simple word is quite a challenge. You see, 子 does not exactly have an equivalent consonant and vowel sound in English. The consonant is closer to ch in change with a z thrown in. The vowel part of the word is almost a non-sound. It’s a vowel, nonetheless, and the difficulty has nothing to do with the tonal nature of Chinese languages. Try making a punctured tire sound chssss … and it’s pretty close. Read the rest of this entry »