"But the Chinese language doesn't have an alphabet," the perspicacious listener might ask, "why on earth does China need an alphabet song?" Which is a good question, and one we studiously avoided asking ourselves after forcing our voice actors to record the song behind this lesson.

You see... while Chinese may not exactly have a traditional western alphabet, we wanted to give you the next best thing: a musical extravaganza guaranteed to help you remember Chinese numbers for years to come. And for your extra pleasure, we're enabling our speaking practice hotline for this lesson as well. If you're a premium subscriber, give us a call on our telephone hotline and give us your own attempt to put these numbers to music. As you'll hear, you can't do much worse than our native Chinese speakers.
 said on
March 24, 2010
这个课酷毙了!
 said on
March 24, 2010
A bit simple, but I enjoyed this one anyway. Good lesson.
 said on
March 24, 2010
Oh! I love that.You make every thing to be easier.More grease to you elbow.Thanks
 said on
June 3, 2010
If China doesn't have an alphabet, how do they write in Pinyin?
 said on
June 3, 2010
@falcon_63convert,

In my experience, most Chinese people don't really use pinyin at all. Some people in the older generations can't tell the difference between Chinese written in pinyin and foreign language content such as English. I've had a few people tell me they didn't understand English after I wrote something in pinyin for them.

That said, it's less and less a problem. Anyone younger than about forty will generally know pinyin and at least the basics of the western alphabet as a result of having studied English in school.

 said on
June 3, 2010
Then why are all of their highway signs in pinyin?
 said on
June 3, 2010
That's a really good question. I guess illiterate people just don't drive.
 said on
August 11, 2018
I know this podcast and the comments are old, but for anyone else who might end up here -

I have a friend in her early twenties born in Taiwan. She doesn't know Pinyin, she said she learned another system for learning Chinese sounds, and I don't remember what it is or consists of. I'm not sure if that's a Taiwanese phenomenon, but just something to be aware of. Tbh I would give a younger cut-off age than 40 for knowing some English/Pinyin.

Also, I'm curious as to what kind of highway signs @falcon_63convert is referencing. All the exit signs I saw had both Pinyin and Chinese characters, and this was in/around Nanchang (i.e. not a super large Chinese city). But maybe as a smaller city those signs are newer.

(Finally, in all honesty I'm not sure what to make of the original question (If China doesn't have an alphabet, how do they write in Pinyin?) Because Pinyin uses the English alphabet and China still doesn't have an alphabet?)
 said on
August 13, 2018
Taiwan developed their own phonetical system while Chinese scholars decided to rely on latin alphabet to create pinyin. Taiwanese phonetical system is called zhuyin.
 said on
May 22, 2021
The Taiwanese system is also called Bopomofo, which is a word you might have heard and still sometimes come across. But there are also some older weird romanisation styles that are a pain to try to interpret if you are used to pinyin (I have some sort of old copy of I Ching where the romanisations are all shot to h-e-double hockeysticks...)

However Chinese could have some kind of a phonetics song: Z, zh, q, c, ch, sh, s...?