Unfortunately, since the times of the Greeks and Romans, European languages never again fully realized the potential of a phonetical language as the allocation of sounds to letters is far from being handled in a consistent way.
Actually, such languages as Spanish and Italian are very phonetic and the allocation of sounds to letters is very consistent. They aren't perfectly phonetic or consisten, but what language is?
With languages like Spanish and Italian, if you know the Latin alphabet, a modest number of simple rules, and have spent a little time with a native speaker (in person or on a recording), it's hard to make a mistake pronouncing words in these languages when reading them.
If Chinese are looking for a truly consistent way of representing their sounds, they should skipp the Latin alphabet and directly opt for the International Phonetic Alphabet - likewise the Europeans should do the same.
The International Phonetic Alphabet is clearly imperfect. There are significant sounds which it does not recognize. Which sounds it doesn't recognize dependens, on part, on which version
of the alphabet one uses.
In addition, every language has sounds that may be similar to those of other languages but are still significantly different. Meanwhile, the Phonetic Alphabet often records them using the same exact symbols.
Just because a certain letter of the Phonetic Alphabet is pronounced in Italian one way, does not mean that it is pronounced exactly the same way in, say, English or French. Occasionally, the differences may even be fairly big. A perfect example is how Italians, most English-speaking peoples, and the French pronounce the /r/
symbol from one popular version of this alphabet. They all usually pronounce it very differently.
Additionally, I think you would have a fairly difficult time notating Chinese in the Phonetic Alphabet unless it was significantly modified. I might be wrong but I think there are too many important sounds particular to Chinese which are usually not found in this alphabet, for it to work well for Chinese speakers. For example, do any or most versions of this alphabet distinguish between the sound of pinyin sh
Do they distinguish between the sound of pinyin j
and the typical ways a native Fench-, English-, or Italian-speaking person pronounces the Latin letter r
or Phonetic Alphabet symbol /r/?
I'm unsure. Do they have a way of notating a tonal language with up to seven or eight tones in some dialects/regionalects? I'm unsure.