Mandarin Chinese is a tremendously wealthy logographic language, which means each phrase is represented by a novel character or mixture of characters. And there are rather a lot—the most important Chinese dictionaries include greater than 60,000 totally different ones.   

The sheer quantity makes it difficult for non-native audio system to grasp Mandarin. As anybody who has studied the language is aware of, it’s troublesome remembering the pronunciations of 1000’s of characters!

Thanks to Zhou Youguang’s work, it’s now rather a lot simpler to study Mandarin. An economist by coaching, within the 1950s, he was tasked by the Chinese authorities to show Chinese characters into phrases with Roman letters. Over three years, Zhou developed pinyin, a phonetic alphabet for Mandarin. With the assistance of simply 26 letters of the Roman alphabet and 4 tonal marks, pinyin permits for the correct pronunciation of any of Mandarin’s 60,000 or so characters, irrespective of how obscure. It’s due to Zhou that we will study “拼音” is pronounced “pīn yīn” by studying its phonetic spelling, as an alternative of listening to another person pronounce it first.

So right this moment’s doodle in international locations together with Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the U.S. celebrates Zhou’s 112th birthday. Zhou handed away on the ripe previous age of 111 final yr. He lived lengthy sufficient to see folks utilizing pinyin to sort Mandarin characters on computer systems and cell phones. By inventing pinyin, Zhou didn’t simply assist generations of scholars study Mandarin. He additionally paved the way in which for a brand new era of Mandarin audio system to speak on-line.

This article sources data from The Keyword