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Mandarin Pronunciation

Mandarin Pronunciation

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Published by: Mary Love Dorado on Aug 24, 2010
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09/20/2010

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Introduction

Mandarin pronunciation Syllables can be divided into initials (consonants) and finals (vowels or vowels followed by -n or -ng). Below is a full list of initials and finals, with some guidance on pronunciation. Where possible, the closest equivalents in English pronunciation have been given, but care should be taken with these and conformation sought, if necessary, from a native Chinese speaker. INITIALS f, l, m, n, s, (w) and (y) – similar to English p, t and k – pronounced with a slight puff of air, like the initials in pop, top and cop h – like ch in the Scottish loch, with a little friction in the throat b, d and g – not voiced as in English, but closer to p in spout, t in stout, and c in scout, than to b in bout, d in doubt and g in gout j – like j in jeep q – like ch in cheap x – like sh in sheep *The three above are pronounced with the lips spread as in a smile. ch – like ch in church sh – like sh in shirt zh – like j in judge r – like r in rung *The four above are pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back. c – like ts in bits z – like ds in bids (but not voiced) FINALS a – as in father ai – as in aisle an – as in ran ang – as in rang, with the a slightly lengthened as in ah ao – like ou in out e – as in her, the ei – as in eight en – as in open eng – like en + g

like uan in truant uo – u followed by o. m. and those beginning with u (as in rule) with w as the first letter: . u/ü followed by e as above un – u/ü with n. s. or like ee in see (but pronounced differently with other initials. and similar to u in French une or u in German über uan – u/ü followed by an. ch. bird (but pronounced differently with other initials. q. t and x. similar to way un – u followed by en. see above) o – as in more ou – as in dough. like wi in wild uan – u followed by an uang – u followed by ang. somewhat like i in sir.er – like err. q and x (as ue) and with initials l and n (as ue). which exists only with zero initial as weng ui – u followed by ei. n. q and x (as u) and with initials l and n (as ü) like i in machine. but with the tongue curled back and the sound coming from the back of the throat i – with initials b. see below) ia – i followed by a. similar to war u/ü – with initials j. l. z. j. sh and zh. only with initials j. pronounced with rounded lips. q and x Most finals can be used without an initial (zero initial). like yow in yowl ie – like ye in yes in – as in thin ing – as in thing iong – i merged with ong iu – like yo in yoga i – with initials c. or like oo in boot ua – u followed by a uai – u followed by ai. and finals beginning with i (as in machine) and u/ü (like the French une) are written in the pinyin romanization with y as the first letter. like wang in twang ueng – u followed by eng. p. as in machine. or like oa in boat ong – like ung in lung. like French une. q and x ue or üe – with initials j. only with initials j. d. like ya in yard ian – similar to yen iang – i followed by ang iao – i followed by ao. r. but with lips rounded u – as in rule.

rising quite quickly from middle register and increasing in volume .starting high.starting low and falling lower before rising again. ¯ first tone. Tones In Chinese each syllable (or character) has a tone. constant volume . the pronunciation of 一 yi ‘one’ and 不 bu ‘not’ varies according to their context. 一 ‘one’ is first tone in counting but otherwise is fourth tone yi. bu ‘not’ is fourth tone but changes to second tone bu when it comes before a fourth tone. louder at the and end than in the middle Fourth tone . when a third tone precedes another third tone it changes to a second tone. Structural words like particles are also often unstressed and are similarly unmarked. In the pinyin romanisation. Some words have unstressed syllables which are toneless and therefore are not given tone marks. and in Mandarin there are four tones. the mark above a syllable indicates its tone: tone. ’ second ˇ third tone and ` fourth tone. Also. Similarly. they will not be indicated in our example sentences. falling rapidly in pitch and decreasing in volume In speech. except if followed by a fourth tone when it changes to second tone yi.-i > yi -ie > ye -ia > ya -in > yin -ian > yan -ing > ying -iang > yang -iong > yong -iao > yao -iu > you -u/u > yu -ue/ue > yue -uan > yuan -un > yun -u > wu -uang > wang -ua > wa -ui > wei -uai > wai -un > wen -uan > wan -uo > wo Note the vowel changes with -iu (> you). yi will always be shown as first tone and bu as fourth tone.high. . since these tonal adjustments are all rulegoverned. level pitch. -ui (> wei) and -un (> wen). First tone Second tone Third tone beginning . That is to say. However.

When a third tone occurs before another third tone. 3+3→2+3 hen hao → hen hao 很好 very good Tone is an inherent part of the Mandarin syllable. it is pronounced as a rising (second) tone. and Mandarin uses tones to distinguish meaning in the same way that the choice of a consonant or a vowel distinguishes meaning. unless the first vowel is i or u: ai ua ao ia ue ei ia ui ou iu uo . or two vowels and a final consonant. the tone mark is placed over the first vowel. Tone 1 2 3 4 neutral ma ma ma ma ma (ma1) (ma2) (ma3) (ma4) (ma5) 媽 mother麻 numb/ 馬 horse\/ 罵 scold\ 嗎 question particle Placement of tone mark in Pinyin If a final includes three vowels. the tone mark is written over the second vowel: kuai huan bian qiong If a final includes two vowels and no final consonant.Syllables whose isolation tone is the third tone change their contour in certain contexts as follows. Notice how tone determines the meaning of the following syllable.

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