How much does pinyin confuse you? Which is the worst part for you?
In this short post, I show how "cats & zeds" will help you overcome a common pronuncation mistake. (PS. I know Americans say "zee" not "zed" - but for this to work, pretend you don't.)
Pinyin is the system which provides a method for pronouncing the Chinese characters using a Roman alphabet (and tone marks). It was developed by the Chinese for the Chinese - and let's face it, although it's the system we use in the West, if Westerners had designed it, I think we would have used different letters to represent the different sounds.
c is pronounced "ts", z is "dz", zh is like "j", x is "sh" (kinda) ... sigh.
For me, the parts I got wrong in the beginning were mainly 'c' and 'z', and even today I find myself stumbling over words like "cúnzài" (存在 - to exist) when I talk too fast for my brain.
You might have a similar problem. In fact, you might not even realise you have the problem!
For example, when I meet other students of Mandarin in London, and I listen to sentences like "I live in London" (wǒ zhù zài Lúndūn), the 'zai' is often pronounced 'tsai' and not 'dzai' - so I know I'm not the only one.
Perhaps this might help ...
cats & zeds
[c]a[ts] & [z]e[dz]
c is prounced 'ts' & z is pronounced 'dz'
Test yourself - how do you pronounce 汉字 (Hànzì - Chinese character), 现在 (xiànzài - now), 菜单 (càidān - menu), 词典 (cídiǎn - dictionary)?
So cúnzài would (phonetically) be [ts]un-[dz]ai. Got it?
Cats & Zeds. Got it?