Discussions on Mandarin Chinese. Do not post requests for translations or advertise couses in this forum.
Elaine Cook


Post by Elaine Cook »

What does the superscript refer to? I see one after nearly every Mandarin word translated into the English pinyin. .. such as "tu2shu1guan3" in one of the above messages. I also see them in various books and articles about the Chinese language, and nothing ever explains what they mean.

Thomas Chin

Re: Superscripts

Post by Thomas Chin »

These numbers represent tones. Most Chinese languages are tonal languages.

See: [ ... pinyin.php]

Dylan Sung

Re: Superscripts

Post by Dylan Sung »

Yes they are tones. The numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 form four tones in Mandarin. Other dialects of Chinese have different numbers of tones, and the tones in the other dialects. The tones are different intonations of pitch.

For Mandarin, the four tones are

1 high level tone
2 mid rising tone
3 a reflexive tone
4 high falling tone

If we represent them as a musical stave in music sheets, then let the highest line be 5, and the lowest line of the stave be 1.

Tone 1 is represented by /55/
Tone 2 is represented by /35/
Tone 3 is represented by /213/
Tone 4 is represented by /51/

So you pronounce the pitch in these relative way.