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Ting can convert between various systems for phonetically writing Mandarin Chinese. It can also handle various representation of tones, so it can be used to convert pinyin with numbers to pinyin with tones.

Hanyu Pinyin, Bopomofo, Wade-Giles, Tongyong Pinyin and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are supported.


To parse your strings create a Reader object. Ting.reader() takes two parameters : the transliteration format, and the way that tones are represented.

To some extent these can be mixed and matched.

To generate pinyin/wade-giles/etc. create a Writer object. Use Ting.writer()


  • :hanyu Hanyu Pinyin

  • :zhuyin Zhuyin Fuhao (a.k.a. Bopomofo)

  • :wadegiles Wade Giles

  • :ipa International Phonetic Alphabet

  • :tongyong Tongyong Pinyin


  • :numbers Simply put a number after the syllable, easy to type

  • :accents Use diacritics, follows the Hanyu Pinyin rules, there needs to be at least one vowel to apply this to, not usable with IPA or Bopomofo

  • :supernum Superscript numerals, typically used for Wade-Giles

  • :marks Tone mark after the syllable, typically used for Bopomofo

  • :ipa IPA tone marks

  • :no_tones Use no tones


Parse Hanyu Pinyin

require 'ting'

reader = Ting.reader(:hanyu, :numbers)
reader << "wo3 ai4 ni3"
 # => [<Ting::Syllable <initial=Empty, final=Uo, tone=3>>, 
 #     <Ting::Syllable <initial=Empty, final=Ai, tone=4>>, 
 #     <Ting::Syllable <initial=Ne, final=I, tone=3>>]

Generate Bopomofo

zhuyin = Ting.writer(:zhuyin, :marks)
zhuyin << (reader << "wo3 ai4 ni3")
# => "ㄨㄛˇ ㄞˋ ㄋㄧˇ"

Generate Wade-Giles

wadegiles = Ting.writer(:wadegiles, :supernum)
wadegiles << (reader << "qing2 kuang4 ru2 he2")
# => "ch`ing² k`uang⁴ ju² ho²"

Generate IPA

ipa =, :ipa)
ipa << (reader << "you3 peng2 zi4 yuan2 fang1 lai2")
# => "iou˧˩˧ pʰeŋ˧˥ ts˥˩ yɛn˧˥ faŋ˥˥ lai˧˥"

Since this is such a common use case, a convenience method to add diacritics to pinyin.

require 'ting/string'

"wo3 ai4 ni3".pretty_tones
# => "wǒ ài nǐ"

Note that syllables need to be separated by spaces, feeding “peng2you3” to the parser does not work. The String#pretty_tones method does handle these things a bit more gracefully.

If you need to parse input that does not conform, consider using a regexp to scan for valid syllables, then feed the syllables to the parser one by one. Have a look at #pretty_tones for an example of how to do this.


  • none, Ting uses nothing but Ruby

  • $KCODE should probably be set to “UTF8”, or you might run into problems.


  • gem install ting


Copyright © 2004-2010, Arne Brasseur. (

Available as Free Software under the GPLv3 License, see LICENSE.txt for details