kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

Today I want to round up some useful links regarding Mandarin pronunciation.

One article that I came across fairly early on in my learning process, but wasn't able to make use of until later, is the Sinosplice article on Mandarin pronunciation. The details of the discussion are perhaps a bit too advanced for a beginner, but reading it now as someone who has spent some time listening to fluent Mandarin speakers, I find it very useful in explaining some of the things that seemed inconsistent at first.

For pronunciation of specific words/characters, Forvo is worth a look. It's a crowdsourced collection of pronunciations of various words in different languages, and it has reasonable coverage of Mandarin. The thing I like about it is that it collects a number of different people's pronunciations of each word, and also tells you roughly where in the world each person is from. Make sure that you listen to the Mandarin (listed as "Chinese") pronunciation of the word, not the Cantonese, Hakka, etc.

Another option is the Our Chinese reading tool (thanks to [identity profile] sunflower for the link). This is for individual characters only; although it lets you enter words, it doesn't take tone sandhi into account, which can be misleading. The MandarinTools entries that I link to from my character posts also fail to take tone sandhi into account, but are useful for individual characters. However, YellowBridge, which I also link to, does seem to make sure to incorporate tone sandhi into its pronuniciations.

One point to remember is that different people have different accents in Mandarin, just as they do in English. I've noticed that the presenters on the cookery programme 天天飲食 have what I believe is a Beijing accent, with lots of retroflex "rrrr"ing at the ends of words, and a completely different pronunciation of words such as 黑 (hēi/black) in comparison to other sources (example video on YouTube, around 0:48 and again around 1:10 and 1:30 and several times after that). Here's a blog post I found on the subject, if you're interested.

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2011-05-23 12:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
黑 sounds very standard to me and I don‘t recall having it ever heard differently。 Do you have a link that shows the other pronunciation of 黑?

Thanks,
Max

Date: 2011-05-24 09:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't know, apart from the Forvo one being overpronounced they sound similar to me.. where do you hear the difference?

-Max

Date: 2011-05-25 04:37 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So that really irritated me, so I listened again, and also let my girlfriend listen, who is a native Mandarin speaker, and the video sounds to both of us absolutely normal and '准确'. Is anyone else hearing anything funny there or not?

Max

Date: 2011-05-25 10:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm not saying you said that :) I just mean it's 准确, as in 'not-un-standard' ;)

Sorry, those symbols don't really tell me anything. For me, both the consonants and the vowels of the recording on Forvo and from the man+woman in the video sound the same.

-Max

Date: 2011-05-27 04:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That was very helpful, thank you very much! Sorry for overlooking your prior explanation of the symbols, I must have skipped over them and just have read the explanation. Your explanation of the different pronunciations makes sense too; I still don't really hear much of a difference, but you seem to be more aware of these things than me :)

Thanks again!
Max

Date: 2011-05-23 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunflower-recipes.blogspot.com
To learn Chinese pronouciation correctly you will need to learn how to pronounce each word either by Hanyu Pinyin (new style using English alphabets) or the traditional zhuyin fuhao (the old method using Chinese symbols). Each word like English is made up of a consonant and a vowel and also controlled by the level of tone identified by the little tone mark 0 - 4, from flat tone - high - neutral. Thus the same pinyin with different marks can read differently and relate to different Chinese characters.

This is a good example to learn the different pinyin and fuhou
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/mandarin_pts.htm click on the play bar to learn the sound.

I don't normally use the tone mark much when translating Chinese simply because unless you know how to differentiate the marking or tone there is no point using them. I also deviate using correct hanyu pinyi like the word 菜 (vegetable) should be 'cài' but if you try to pronounce it by plain English it becomes 'kai' and not 'chai'

Google has good translation tool to read the whole sentence and with added hanyu pinyin

http://translate.google.com/#


Chinese is like English which there is this proper Queen English there is also standard spoken Mandarin recognised and spoken the same way anywhere in the world. Mandarin can be spoken differently influenced by local dialets even in Beijing there is distinct Mandarin slang compared to that spoken in Shanghai or other places.

Other than Mandarin there are hundreds of different spoken Chinese (dialets) totally different to Mandarin like Cantonese, Fujian, Hakka, Chouzhou etc.....

Sorry a bit long to explain.

By the way re your pinyin on your last post for 蚵 (háo) is not correct, the correct pinyin is hé (or 'hur' spoken in plain English), it is more commonly used in Taiwan referring to oyster, but in their Taiwanese dialet or Fujian (Hokkien) it is read as 'oh'

Date: 2011-05-24 09:31 am (UTC)
vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
From: [personal profile] vatine
Accent marks in written Swedish are, unfortunately, a messy business. Sometimes, they denote a difference in meaning, sometimes they denote a difference in meaning and pronunciation and sometimes they're plain not there (and putting them in would look strange to a native eye).

Of course, the noun-compounding habits of Swedish (and mostly leaving out any binding dash) also makes for amusing misreadings from time to time.

Date: 2011-05-24 10:30 am (UTC)
vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
From: [personal profile] vatine
Meaning and pronunciation: "armen"/"armén" (the arm / the army)
Meaning only: "allen"/"allén" (alone / avenue (in the "tree-lined road" sense)), both pronounced the same way.
Not present: "tomten" (could be a plot of land, could be a mythical small-folk helping out on a farm, could be Santa Claus; there's a pronunciation difference between #1 and #2/#3 and the Swedish Father Christmas is but a larger, more boisterous, variant of the former, if you delve deep enough into history)

Then there's a whole slew of compound words without any join-markings that can be decomposed in at least two ways.

Date: 2011-05-24 07:29 am (UTC)
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pne
Google has good translation tool to read the whole sentence and with added hanyu pinyin

http://translate.google.com/#


Although their "shi" sounds suspicious to me; it sounds as if it has an "i" sound at the ending (English "ee"), as in "xi", rather than the "shrr" sound I would expect.

(I haven't checked what "zhi chi ri" sound like.)

Date: 2011-05-24 09:37 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You just might be used to a very Northern pronunciation ;)

-Max

Date: 2011-05-25 04:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Same here. I have not the least clue when it comes to linguistics, but my Mandarin listening is decent and I also asked my gf again and she confirms: the 是 of gTranslate 朗读 is just fine. Either you guys come from a totally linguistic background so that you can hear differences in the pronunciation that me and my gf can't distinguish, or you're hearing something that isn't there.. ^^

Date: 2011-05-25 10:45 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, absolutely, I'm not saying it doesn't sound robotic and stilted :) But I still think that gTranslates 是 is simply standard Mandarin, and the original poster is just used to Northern (Beijing / Dongbei / Inner Mongolia / ...) pronunciation, in which you curl the tongue much further back into your mouth, which leads to 'shrrr' instead of 'shi'.

-Max

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