Pinyin language

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RegionNorthwest Region, Cameroon
Native speakers
25,000 (2001)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pny
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Pinyin is a Grassfields language spoken by some 27,000 people in the Northwest Region of Cameroon.



Phoneme Allophones Environment Orthography
p p ⟨p⟩
Before /u/ in an open syllable.
b After /ɴ̩/. ⟨b⟩
β Between vowels within a root.
t t ⟨t⟩
k k Beginning of words and of roots within words, and after /ɴ̩/. ⟨k⟩
ʔ Only C found at ends of words. ⟨’⟩
l l In roots. ⟨l⟩
ɾ In suffixes. ⟨r⟩
d After /ɴ̩/. ⟨d⟩
ɣ ɣ ⟨ɡh⟩
ɡ After /ɴ̩/. ⟨ɡ⟩
ɣʷ ɡʷ After /ɴ̩/. ⟨ɡw⟩
f f ⟨f⟩
s s /ts/ after /ɴ̩/. ⟨s⟩
ts ts ⟨ts⟩
z z ⟨z⟩
dz After /ɴ̩/.
ʃ ʃ /tʃ/ after /ɴ̩/. ⟨sh⟩
ʒ ʒ ⟨zh⟩
After /ɴ̩/. ⟨j⟩
m m ⟨m⟩
n n ⟨n⟩
ɲ ɲ ⟨ny⟩
ŋ ŋ ⟨ŋ⟩
m̩ n̩ ŋ̍ Homorganic with following C. Carries tone. ⟨m⟩, ⟨n⟩
w w ⟨w⟩
ɥ ɥ ⟨ẅ⟩
j j ⟨y⟩

Sequences are:

py (mby), ly (ndy), ty, ky, ngy, my, kẅ, ngẅ (= /kʷj, ɡʷj/)
pw (mbw), lw (ndw), tw, tsw, chw, shw, sw, zw, zhw, nw, nyw, ŋw

All noun and verb roots begin with a consonant; initial vowels are necessarily prefixes. Only /a, ɨ/ occur in prefixes or at the beginning of words, and only /ə/ occurs in suffixes. /ɨ, y/ do not occur at the ends of words.


Phoneme Orthography
i i
y ʉ
ɛ e
a a
ɔ o
u u
ə ə
ɨ ɨ

All known long vowels may occur medially or at ends of words, none at the beginning, though long /ɛ, y/ are not attested. Long vowels are written double: aa, əə, ii, ‿ɨɨ, oo, uu. Diphthongs ie, iə, ʉə, ɨə, uə take a single tone.

Tones are high, mid, low, rising, falling. They are written as in IPA, apart from low, which is not written: á ā a ǎ â. Falling tone is largely confined to suffixes, and rising tone is rare, found only on a few nouns such as 'father'.


  1. ^ Pinyin at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Pinyin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • The Pinyin Orthography Guide (Njeck Mathaus Mbah & Stephen C. Anderson, 2005)