How do you say ‘Beijing?'

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It's an ongoing debate here in the newsroom: How do you pronounce Beijing? Our crew covering the Olympics in China took time to figure it out.

We met a member of the U.S. Air Force living in China who speaks fluent Mandarin. He helped us out.

Tim Quehne actually approached us when he saw our camera. "My family lives in Utah -- parents in Orem, brother and sister as well," he told us.

Quehne is living in China, so we asked him the proper way to say Beijing.

"We all say 'Bay-Zjing,' is that wrong?" we asked.

"That's the way most westerners say it, but it's really 'Bay-Jing,'" he said.

"Chinese is a tonal language, and there's four tones in it," Quehne continued. "And so ‘Bei' is the third tone, so it's ‘Bay.' And ‘Jing' is a first tone, so ‘Bay-Jing.'"

Michael Gold is also from the United States and has been living in Beijing for a year studying. He thinks it sounds weird how we say it, ‘Bay-Zjing.'

"Right now, I'm really used to hearing Chinese say it. So, to me, it sounds really strange," Gold said.

So there you have it. That is how you pronounce "Beijing." But if you just can't get the tones down, don't worry! With our experience, the Chinese here are just happy you try, and they figure out what you're saying.


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Amanda Butterfield


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