A preliminary phonetic investigation of alphabetic words in Mandarin Chinese

Hongwei Ding, Yuanyuan Zhang, Hongchao Liu, Chu-ren Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationConference articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Chinese words written partly or fully in roman letters have gained popularity in Mandarin Chinese in the last few decades and an appendix of such Mandarin Alphabetical Words (MAWs) is included in the authoritative dictionary of Standard Mandarin. However, no transcription of MAWs has been provided because it is not clear whether we should keep the original English pronunciation or transcribe MAWs with Mandarin Pinyin system. This study aims to investigate the phonetic adaptation of several most frequent MAWs extracted from the corpus. We recruited eight students from Shanghai, 18 students from Shandong Province, and one student from the USA. All the subjects were asked to read both 24 Chinese sentences embedding the MAWs and all 26 letters of the English alphabet. The results showed that Letters A O N T were predominantly pronounced in Tone 1; H was often produced with vowel epenthesis after the final consonant; and B was usually produced in Tone 2 by Shanghai speakers and in Tone 4 by Shandong speakers. We conclude that the phonetic adaptation of MAWs is influenced by the dialects of the speakers, tones of other Chinese characters in the MAWs, as well as individual preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3028-3032
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Event18th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH 2017 - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 20 Aug 201724 Aug 2017


  • Alphabetic words
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Phonetic adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation

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