The Pinyin transcription given here has two variants: one in
which the tones are represented by numbers behind the morphemes or
'syllables' and one in which they are represented by marks on one of the
vowels. By pointing your cursor to a line of characters in the text you
will be shown a Pinyin transcription with tone numbers. (Any browser can
handle such letters and figures.) The table above displays the whole poem
in Pinyin with tone marks. (Not all browsers and printers can fully cope
with such symbols.)
It is not correct, as often claimed, that Pinyin is a phonetic system,
but it is an algorithmic system in that the pronunciation can always be
derived from the spelling by applying certain rules.
Thus, the letter u is not pronounced as |U| but is identical to
ü after j, q, x and y
(that is, after a |J| sound). The syllables qù and
xū must therefore be read as if written with an ü.
Another example is the a, which is pronounced as |E| instead of
|AH| before a single n and after i, ü (or
u) and y. The a in the syllables tián,
jiàn and qián therefore sounds as an |E|.
For the twin version in This Language see Hema, the River Horse.
Another poem in Zhezhong Yuyan inspired by Wen Yiduo's 祈祷
can be found at