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Aug 10, 2007 08:33 AM

Can someone tell me once and for all how to pronounce szechuan?


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  1. In Pinying, it's Sìchuān. The closest phoenetic spelling would be tsih-chwahn.

    10 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      great question.

      JungMann, Are you saying Shee-swan?

      1. re: sarge

        I always thought it was say-schwan?

        1. re: sarge

          No. Is that how you pronounce it? When I hear Chinese people say it, it sounds like the phoenetic spelling I gave above; but I don't say it tonally lest I get smacked for being a toff.

          1. re: JungMann

            Sorry Jung, but I am having trouble pronouncing your phonetic translation

            1. re: sarge

              I'm pretty sure say-schwan is wrong. Say sih-chwahn. (ih = short i like "kit"; ah = short a like "swan").

              1. re: JungMann

                I think you're right. And you can have your computer say it to you by going to this website and typing in sichuan


                1. re: JungMann

                  My mother always pronounced it more like see-chwahn. In cantonese it would be closer to "sei-choon"

          2. re: JungMann

            A Chinese American lady I know, whose parents own a Chinese restaurant in S.F., says it's sheh-shwan (sheh as in chef, shwan rhymes with swan).

            1. re: mpalmer6c

              I always though it was pronounced like "Zhez-waun."

          3. Go to They have the phonetic spelling but even better: You can listen to it pronounced. They say it "Setch Wan", Setch rhymes with Fetch and Wan is like Obi Wan Kenobi.

            7 Replies
            1. re: shamrock4751

              Like a lot of Chinese words that have become popular in the States, there's really two ways of pronouncing it.

              In Mandarin, it's more like "sitch-wan"

              In English, it's "setch-wan".

              Neither way is incorrect, really.

                1. re: xIcewind

                  That sounds like "full-tran" to me.

                  I've always pronounced it like Seh-Shwan. Short e and short a. But I could easily be wrong.

                  1. re: xIcewind

                    Wow, that sounded weird, except for the "chuan" part?

                    Maybe there was something wrong with the file or upload.

                    1. re: yfunk3

                      No, it's the correct recording.

                      The first character is the same pronunciation as the number "four". Well, it's the same character as the number "four".

                      1. re: xIcewind

                        Okay, so when I played it last night, it totally sounded like "foo-chuan", but this morning is sounds correct.

                        Also want to add that it'd sound diferent depending on what kind of accent the speaker has (in China, of course). Beijing accent is standard, and it is a bit harsher in its enunciation and stressing of the R sounds.

                2. re: shamrock4751

                  that is pretty much the way I pronounce it, but I'm from Illinois and get picked on for my accent all the time, no matter what I say.

                  1. my mind always says it "zesh-wan"

                    1. Here are two more audio recordings which may be better than the recording on Wikipedia.