How do you say those trending Chinese Internet slang terms as 700 million Mandarin-speaking Internet users do?

Learn some Pinyin!

拼音 [pīn  yīn] Pinyin is the official system in mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan for transcribing Standard Chinese with the Latin alphabet. The pronunication of a Chinese character is usually a combination of initials (consonants) and finals (vowels).

These two videos are for auditory learners who want to master Pinyin in 15 minutes.

The pronunciations of “r” and “e” in the following video are a little off (she said “r” correctly in the summary though), but it does not matter too much. The explanation of every consonant and every vowel is great.

The graphics in the following video might traumatize you, but the pronunciations are all spot on and the alphabet song is really helpful.

Last but not least, for those of you who are visual learners, I compiled the following lists with the help of Wikipedia:

Pinyin Pronunciation of Initials: 

Pinyin IPA English approximation Explanation
b [p] spit unaspirated p, as in spit
p [] pay strongly aspirated p, as in pit
m [m] may as in English mummy
f [f] fair as in English fun
d [t] stop unaspirated t, as in stop
t [] take strongly aspirated t, as in top
n [n] nay as in English nit
l [l] lay as in English love
g [k] skill unaspirated k, as in skill
k [] kay strongly aspirated k, as in kill
h [x] loch roughly like the Scots ch. English h as in hay or, more closely in some American dialects, hero is an acceptable approximation. The best way to produce this sound is by very slowly making a “k” sound, pausing at the point where there is just restricted air flowing over the back of your tongue (after the release at the beginning of a “k”)
j [] churchyard No equivalent in English, but similar to an unaspirated “-chy-” sound when said quickly. Like q, but unaspirated. Is similar to the English name of the letter G. Not the s in Asia, despite the common English pronunciation of “Beijing”. The sequence “ji” word-initially is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (ジ) ji.
q [tɕʰ] punch yourself No equivalent in English. Like punch yourself, with the lips spread wide with ee. Curl the tip of the tongue downwards to stick it at the back of the teeth and strongly aspirate. The sequence “qi” word-initially is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (チ) chi.
x [ɕ] push yourself No equivalent in English. Like -sh y-, with the lips spread and the tip of your tongue curled downwards and stuck to the back of teeth when you say ee. The sequence “xi” is the same as the Japanese pronunciation of (シ) shi.
zh [] junk Rather like ch (a sound between choke, joke, true, and drew, tongue tip curled more upwards). Voiced in a toneless syllable.
ch [tʂʰ] church as in chin, but with a flat tongue; very similar to nurture in American English, but strongly aspirated.
sh [ʂ] shirt as in shoe, but with a flat tongue; very similar to marsh in American English
r [ɻ] ray Similar to the English r in reduce, but with a flat tongue and lightly fricated.
z [ts] reads unaspirated c, similar to something between suds and cats; as in suds in a toneless syllable
c [tsʰ] hats like the English ts in cats, but strongly aspirated, very similar to the Czech, Polish and Slovak c.
s [s] say as in sun
w [w] way as in water.*
y [j],[ɥ] yea as in yes. Before a u, pronounce it with rounded lips.*

 

Pinyin Pronunciation of Finals: 

Pinyin Explanation
a as in spa
o as in all
e as in ugh
i as in knee
u as in goo
ü pout as if you were about to whistle, with the tip of your tongue touching the back of your lower teeth.
ai as in guy
ao as in pout
an similar to bun
ang similar to tongue
ei as in hey
eng similar to [əŋ]
ia as in aiya
ian similar to Canadian
iang as in English young
ie similar to yeah
in similar to gin
ing similar to Bing
uan similar to one
uang as in duang
uo similar to quarter
ui similar to wee
un similar to [wən]
ün pout to pronounce ü and then transition to [n].
üan pout to pronounce ü and then transition to [ʌn].
üe pout to pronounce ü and then transition to [ə]

Notes:
1. Following c, ch, s, sh, z, zh, and r, i is pronounced like [s] (as in snow).
2. ü is displayed as u following j, q, x, and y.
3. ün,  üan, and üe are displayed as un, uan, and ue following j, q, x, and y.

You may search the pronunciation of Internet slang terms via Baidu Dictionary. The latest Internet slang terms are usually not included in the dictionary, so divide the slang term into characters and search one character at a time.