In my attempt to learn Mandarin, my colleague recommended me to use the pinyin keyboard rather than the writing one.
The good is that I type much faster but the bad is that I take the lazy way and not really want to learn how to write.
But the other problem though is this: I can read, listen and understand the words and I can say them quite accurately but I could not for the life of me spell them in the correct pinyin symbols.
Especially these nine sounds that comes in three triplets: z, zh and j; c, ch and q; s, sh and x.
So I thought if I can memorize nine common and familiar words, I could slowly figure out which is which.
I came up with these:
zū 组 zhū 猪 jù 句 (rent, pig, sentence)
cù 醋 chū 出 qù 去 (vinegar, out, go)
sù 诉 shū 书 xū 需 (tell, book, need)
I then realized that the u sound of the last triplet of each set is not pronounced the same as in the first two. The first two are always pronounced with an oo sound whilst the third is always with an ü sound.
I need memorize them in these two sequences:
1. 组 猪 句 醋 出 去 诉 书 需
2. 组 醋 诉 猪 出 书 句 去 需
It's a good thing as long as I don't look in the mirror.
And for the other vowels and diphthongs, I found these useful tables from Chinese Pronunciation Wiki: