Four hu

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The four hu (Chinese: 四呼; pinyin: sì hū) are a traditional way of classifying syllable finals of Mandarin dialects, including Standard Chinese, based on different glides before the central vowel of the final. They are[1][2]

  • kāikǒu (開口, "open mouth"), finals without a medial
  • qíchǐ (齊齒, "even teeth"), finals beginning with [i]
  • hékǒu (合口, "closed mouth"), finals beginning with [u]
  • cuōkǒu (撮口, "round mouth"), finals beginning with [y]

The terms kāikǒu and hékǒu come from the Song dynasty rime tables describing Middle Chinese.[3] The Qing phonologist Pan Lei divided each of these categories in two based on the absence or presence of palatalization, and named the two new categories.[4]

This traditional classification is reflected in the bopomofo notation for the finals, but less directly in the pinyin:[a]

Four hu table
Kāikǒu Qíchǐ Hékǒu Cuōkǒu
IPA Bopomofo Pinyin IPA Bopomofo Pinyin IPA Bopomofo Pinyin IPA Bopomofo Pinyin
a a ia ㄧㄚ ia ua ㄨㄚ ua
ɤ e ie ㄧㄝ ie uo ㄨㄛ uo[b] ye ㄩㄝ üe[c]
ɨ -i i i u u y ü[c]
ai ai uai ㄨㄞ uai
ei ei uei ㄨㄟ wei/-ui
au ao iau ㄧㄠ iao
ou ou iou ㄧㄡ you/-iu
an an iɛn ㄧㄢ ian uan ㄨㄢ uan yɛn ㄩㄢ üan[c]
ən en in ㄧㄣ in uən ㄨㄣ wen/-un yn ㄩㄣ ün[c]
ang iaŋ ㄧㄤ iang uaŋ ㄨㄤ uang
əŋ eng ㄧㄥ ing uəŋ ㄨㄥ weng
ʊŋ ㄨㄥ -ong iʊŋ ㄩㄥ iong


  1. ^ IPA of vowels from Lee & Zee (2003:110–111), Duanmu (2007:55–58) and Lin (2007:65)
  2. ^ uo is spelled as o after b, p, m and f.
  3. ^ a b c d ü is spelled as u after j, q, x and y.


  1. ^ Norman, Jerry (1988). Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
  2. ^ Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1984). Middle Chinese: a study in historical phonology. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7748-0192-8.
  3. ^ Norman (1988), p. 32.
  4. ^ Pulleyblank, Edwin G. (1999). "Traditional Chinese phonology" (PDF). Asia Major. Third series. 12 (2): 101–137. JSTOR 41645549. pp 128–129.
Works cited
  • Lee, Wai-Sum; Zee, Eric (2003). "Standard Chinese (Beijing)". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 33 (1): 109–112. doi:10.1017/S0025100303001208.
  • Duanmu, San (2007). The Phonology of Standard Chinese (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lin, Yen-Hwei (2007). The Sounds of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.