There is no Chinese alphabet. Chinese uses Hanzi which is more like writing with pictures. Each word (syllable) has its own character. Many characters are compositions of simpler characters called radicals. There are about 218 radicals.
Rocket Chinese and other sites use a romanization system called Pinyin. This is a western invention and is not really used in China at all. So, if you want to be able to read what the Chinese read, you need to learn Hanzi.
For more information on this, you can start working through the Rocket Chinese writing lessons or consult any good Chinese language textbook. here is a link to a good online textbook from MIT.
July 23, 2014
There is a Chinese alphabet of 37 phonetic characters that was developed in China in the early 20th century and is still used in Taiwan in the public schools. The following wiki link has a thorough explanation; also Youtube provides many videos demonstrating this phonetic character set: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuyin
July 25, 2014
Pinyin or Hanyu Pinyin （汉语拼音） is not a western invention. It was developed in the late fifties to provide a modern phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters. It is often used to teach Standard Chinese and is often used in foreign publications to create Chinese names familiar to non-Chinese and may be used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into computers.
Without the Hanyu Pinyin, Chinese is very difficult to learn even for the Chinese people themselves. Thus it is also impossible for foreigners to learn Chinese without this new phonetic system.
July 30, 2014
I got this a bit mushed up. I was confusing the Pinyin (or Hanyu Pinyin) that we use today with the Wade-Giles system that was developed at Cambridge University at the turn of the 19th Century. Then came the Yale system developed during World War II. Hanyu Pinyin is the official system of the PRC and the system we use today.
Ask a question or post a response
If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.