No more pinyin!!

(Note: This post is about people who only use pinyin only INSTEAD of writing in Chinese characters. This has nothing to do with people who use pinyin IMEs to type in Chinese or who use pinyin to show the pronunciation of words)

Ok, so I met another pinyin-only learner today and I’ve finally had it. I’m making a post about it!

I’m not going to go over all of the reasons why learning Mandarin with pinyin only is a bad idea, but I’m going to look at one reason in particular today: Pinyin ambiguity.

So you think you can learn Mandarin by only learning the spoken language and getting by with just pinyin? Ok, so let’s try it.

What does “shi” mean? ……



Go ahead, take your time. CNS11643 shows 193 different characters for the pinyin combination “shi”.

Ok, so with single characters, it’s not possible. Let’s try something else…

“Wo de niao shi lüse de.“※

How about this one? What does this translate to? Could it be 我的鳥是綠色的, “My bird is green” or could it be 我的尿是綠色的, “My urine is green”? We don’t know. There is no way to tell.

  • Does “hanyu” mean “the Chinese language”(漢語) or “the Korean language”(韓語)?

  • Is “lianxi” 練習、聯繫、連繫、or 憐惜?

  • Does “mao” mean “cat”(貓) or “hair/fur”(毛)?

  • Does “gaochao” mean “excellent”(高超) or “orgasm”(高潮)? (O_o)

  • Does “yinhe” mean “The Milky Way”(銀河) or “clitoris”(陰核)? (囧)

The tones change the meanings of these words. There are so many of these that I can’t even begin to count them. If you know any good ones please leave a comment and I may add it to the list 🙂

Using pinyin to type in Mandarin is ambiguous and leads to mistakes and misunderstandings. Not only that, but you lose out on all of the culture and understanding of the language. Learning Chinese characters is not hard unless you make it hard.

……plus if you learn them, you’ll be regarded as a genius in the eyes of most East Asians. Everyone loves attention 🙂

※ You’ll probably see the “ü” written as “v” or simply “u” by most people.