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Maciamo
Apr 25, 2005, 00:42
I was wondering about how to pronounce the 4 tones of Mandarin Chinese. I was wondering which emotion was closer to each tone

The first tone is "high-level". Is it more :

- as if it was sung
- as if we said it happily with a smile
- as if we were agreeing and wondering at the same time (e.g. the Japanese "n, ma ne")

The second tone is "rising". Is it more :

- like a question (in Japanese of Romance languages)
- like sounding surprised
- like sounding satisfied (e.g. Japanese "ma ! ii ne !")
- like when praising or congratulating someone ? (e.g. "goood ! you see you can do it")

The third tone is "low-falling-raising". Is more :

- as we we were not sure of something (e.g. Japanese "maa...")
- as if slightly disagreeing and questioning (e.g. "maa, dou kana ?")
- as if moaning, not being very enthusiastic (you'll have to get at 5am tomorrow => reeally [in a low and depressed voice, slightly rising at the end] ? )

The fourth tone is a "falling tone". Is it more :

- like sounding depressed (e.g. oh nooh)
- like disagreeing strongly, opposing someone (e.g. no ! you won't!)
- like sounding solemn
- like sounding uninterested (e.g. "maaah, who cares ?")

I would really appreciate if some speakers of Chinese or other tonal languages could help me on this. :bow:

seasurfer
Apr 25, 2005, 05:01
I was wondering about how to pronounce the 4 tones of Mandarin Chinese. I was wondering which emotion was closer to each tone

The first tone is "high-level". Is it more :

- as if it was sung
- as if we said it happily with a smile
- as if we were agreeing and wondering at the same time (e.g. the Japanese "n, ma ne")

The second tone is "rising". Is it more :

- like a question (in Japanese of Romance languages)
- like sounding surprised
- like sounding satisfied (e.g. Japanese "ma ! ii ne !")
- like when praising or congratulating someone ? (e.g. "goood ! you see you can do it")

The third tone is "low-falling-raising". Is more :

- as we we were not sure of something (e.g. Japanese "maa...")
- as if slightly disagreeing and questioning (e.g. "maa, dou kana ?")
- as if moaning, not being very enthusiastic (you'll have to get at 5am tomorrow => reeally [in a low and depressed voice, slightly rising at the end] ? )

The fourth tone is a "falling tone". Is it more :

- like sounding depressed (e.g. oh nooh)
- like disagreeing strongly, opposing someone (e.g. no ! you won't!)
- like sounding solemn
- like sounding uninterested (e.g. "maaah, who cares ?")

I would really appreciate if some speakers of Chinese or other tonal languages could help me on this. :bow:

Hi, I try my best to answer.

There are actually 4 tones plus one soft toneiçjã߁jin standard Mandarin, the soft tone will vary according to the previous character tone.

In Mandarin, the tones are relative tones, meaning, tones are compared relatively in their "highness" or "lowness".

It can be divided into 5 relative tones according to ŒÜ“x•W‹L–@D

There are: 5@i‚j | 4@i”¼‚j | 3@i’†j | 2@i”¼’áj | 1@i’áj

5 being the highest tone, your vocal cord being most stretched. 1 being lowest tone, your vocal cord is most relaxed.

Now we will try to apply this ŒÜ“x•W‹L–@ in the 4 mandarin tones.

The first tone, called ‰A•½, is has the highest tone, the sequential of the tone is 5 to 5, you start of with a 5 tone and end with a 5 tone. Hence, calling it a 55 tone. In simple term, since 5 is the highest tone, so you start of with the highest tone, and since its ending tone is also 5, therefore, throughout the whole pronounciation, your tone level is the same.

The second tone, called —z•½, start off with a lower tone and end up in the highest tone, from tone 3 to tone 5. Hence, calling it a 35 tone. The level of tone 3 is middle, not too high and not too low. You start of with this 3rd tone then you raise your tone to the 5th tone to end the pronunciation.

The third tone, called ããß, start off with the 2nd tone, then to the 1st tone, and at last raise to the 4th tone. When you pronunce this tone, you start with the 2nd tone, then you lower your tone to the 1st tone, finally you finish off the pronunciation by raising your tone to the 4th tone. Hence, calling it a 214 tone.

The forth tone, called ‹Žãß, start off with the highest tone, then progress to the lowest tone. You start off with the 5th tone, and you end with the 1st tone. Making it a declining tone. Hence, calling it a 51 tone.

Hope all these help you.

Maciamo
Apr 25, 2005, 12:48
Thanks for the explanation seasurfer.

One more thing, how do speakers of tonal languages do to express the emotions I mentioned in my first post. For example, if a word has a falling tone (fourth tone) and the speaker wants to express surprise or doubt (for which I use a rising tone) ? Or giving an order with a verb having a rising tone (eg. "come !") ? How is that possible to combine ?

For example, the verb "to come" in Mandarin is —ˆ [lai2], so it has a rising intonation. How do people say "come !" without it sounding like a question ("come ?") ? Same for any other words and emotions.

bossel
Apr 25, 2005, 14:05
You dont need rising tone to ask a question.
"Lai bu lai? (Come or come not?)" or "Ni lai ma? (You come 'question particle')" would do the deal.

seasurfer
Apr 25, 2005, 15:00
Thanks for the explanation seasurfer.

One more thing, how do speakers of tonal languages do to express the emotions I mentioned in my first post. For example, if a word has a falling tone (fourth tone) and the speaker wants to express surprise or doubt (for which I use a rising tone) ? Or giving an order with a verb having a rising tone (eg. "come !") ? How is that possible to combine ?

For example, the verb "to come" in Mandarin is —ˆ [lai2], so it has a rising intonation. How do people say "come !" without it sounding like a question ("come ?") ? Same for any other words and emotions.

Hi, Maciamo,

I will compare two languages, french and mandarin, hope this will help your understanding.

In french, we could say, ca va? and answer ca va. Using the same words, but changing the tone make the intention different.

Same with allez, with could just say allez? and answer allez. In french all we need to do is to raise the tone.

However, in Mandarin, the case is different, it is totally different from french, you can't change the tone of a word to make it sound like a question. You have to add words or change the way you ask.

Example:
—ˆ, meaning come. When you just say —ˆ to someone in the correct tone, it means asking a person to come.

If you want to ask the person whether you want to come or not, then you have to add words or change the way of asking.

You have to say —ˆ嗎? The word 嗎 means asking a question and it also means a question mark, before the chinese import western style punctuation, there is no punctuation in chinese. So these kind of words act as a punctuation.@It is more or less like the japanese ‚©B In japanese, you don't need question mark at all, all you need is to add a ‚©, and this will make it a question. Of course, in japanese, you can even do it without the ‚©, but this don't apply to chinese.

Another example:
你D. ======== You are fine.
你D嗎? ====== Are you fine? or How are you?

The other way of making a chinese expression into a question is to add "or not".

Examples:
˜Ò ====== come!
˜Ò•s˜Ò === come or not come?

D ====== fine!
D•sD === fine or not fine?



In a nutshell, you cannot change the tone to make it sound like a question mark, because the tone just can't be change, changing the tone of a word will be misinterpreted as another word. Hope this help you. :-)

Maciamo
Apr 25, 2005, 16:12
Thanks for the explanation seasurfer. Bu what about all the other emotions I listed in my first posts ? Is there words or grammatical structures for all of them ?

Sorry it's difficult to explain just by writing, but for me the tone of each of my examples is different. That's why I was asking how each tone should sound like. A 'question rising tone' does not sound the same as a 'surprise rising tone' or a 'praise rising tone'. For me each is clearly distinct. In total there are probably more than 20 tones indicating different emotions. My question is, which ones are the more similar to the 4 tones in Mandarin.


You dont need rising tone to ask a question.
"Lai bu lai? (Come or come not?)" or "Ni lai ma? (You come 'question particle')" would do the deal.

Ok, but what about expressing surprise, etc. ? (e.g. "I have just bought two baby crocodiles" => "crocodiles ?!" :shock:)

seasurfer
Apr 25, 2005, 16:30
Thanks for the explanation seasurfer. Bu what about all the other emotions I listed in my first posts ? Is there words or grammatical structures for all of them ?

Sorry it's difficult to explain just by writing, but for me the tone of each of my examples is different. That's why I was asking how each tone should sound like. A 'question rising tone' does not sound the same as a 'surprise rising tone' or a 'praise rising tone'. For me each is clearly distinct. In total there are probably more than 20 tones indicating different emotions. My question is, which ones are the more similar to the 4 tones in Mandarin.



Ok, but what about expressing surprise, etc. ? (e.g. "I have just bought two baby crocodiles" => "crocodiles ?!" :shock:)

Hi, Maciamo,

Sorry, I really don't get your question here. Are you trying to compare emotional tone in all languages to the 4 chinese tones or asking how chinese people express these emotional tones in relation to the 4 tones? If you don't mind, may you give me a simple example, so I may know your question.

Maciamo
Apr 25, 2005, 16:37
Sorry, I really don't get your question here. Are you trying to compare emotional tone in all languages to the 4 chinese tones or asking how chinese people express these emotional tones in relation to the 4 tones? If you don't mind, may you give me a simple example, so I may know your question.

Yes, that is my question. Actually there are 2 questions :

1) How do Chinese people express emotional tones if tones are "fixed" for each word.

2) Which emotion fits better the 4 tones in standard Mandarin. Does a rising tone sound more like a question, a surprise or enthusiatic praise ?

Sorry it's difficult to give examples different from above as I can't write those emotional tones.

Index
Apr 25, 2005, 19:23
In other words, in English (for example) the same phrase can have varied meanings depending on how one says it in terms of intonation. Does this variance in meaning depending on intonation also exist in Chinese? Is this what you are asking Maciamo?

seasurfer
Apr 25, 2005, 22:18
Yes, that is my question. Actually there are 2 questions :

1) How do Chinese people express emotional tones if tones are "fixed" for each word.

2) Which emotion fits better the 4 tones in standard Mandarin. Does a rising tone sound more like a question, a surprise or enthusiatic praise ?

Sorry it's difficult to give examples different from above as I can't write those emotional tones.

I would say other than tone, there is another factor in any spoken language, the strength of voice.

1) How do Chinese people express emotional tones if tones are "fixed" for each word.

Since the pronunciation of each word is fixed, people who speak mandarin usually change the strength of voice to and add or remove certain words to express the related emotion.

Example:
A harsh order: In this case, the speaker will raise his voice, making the expressed word sound serious.

Asking for help: In this case, the speaker will speak softly, showing respect toward the person.

All in all, the strenght of voice is just one factor, facial expression is another major factor. Then what about talking over the phone? Then you have to control the strength of voice.

Secondly, as I said previously, the tone are fixed, however to express emotion one simply has to change the way he/she phrase his sentence, there are many chinese word that you can add or remove in a sentene to achieve the wanted emotion.

Example:
—LŸ“—L? === Do you have it or not?
To make the sentence sound more affection, the word 啊 can be added, hence becoming —LŸ“—L啊?
啊 has no meaning, it is just a word added to a sentence to change the emotion of the sentence.

‹L“¾! === Remember!
Again to make the sentence sound more nicely or affectionate, the word šG can be added. Hence becoming ‹L“¾šG!
šG has no meaning too, it is just a word add to change the effect of a sentence.

D! ==== Fine! or Good!
To make the expression sound more nicely, a can also add 啦 in the sentence. Making it D啦!

There are many more words that one can add to change the emotion of the sentence, of course this has to be accompanied by the strength of voice to achieve its ultimate effect. The same word can have opposite emotional meaning if the strenght of voice is different.


2) Which emotion fits better the 4 tones in standard Mandarin. Does a rising tone sound more like a question, a surprise or enthusiatic praise ?

If you use French as an example, such as:
Ca va? ==== In this case, the tone is raising, and is pretty close to the second tone of mandarin, the 35 tone.

Ca va. ==== In this case, the tone is a bit flat and a bit of going down? (some people speak it in a way that is "a bit of going up" too, some people just speak it flat.) I think it is very hard to compare this to either of the 4 chinese mandarin tones, but may be it is closer to the first tone, with a lower version of it, using the ŒÜ“x•W‹L–@, change the 55 tone to a 44 tone. May be??? But 44 tone don't exist in mandarin, although the tone can be created....

Regarding surprise and enthusiatic praise, is there such kind of tone? To express surprise or enthusiatic, don't we need to phrase our sentence to achieve this effect, rather then the tone?

Let's say the expression Oh! is a surprise tone, then in Mandarin it is the same too, šG! is also being used. In this case, šG! is pronounced as Oh!

Let's say the enthusiatic expression is Yes! I want it!, then in Mandarin, it is also the same by say it with a higher voice or strength, ¥“I!‰ä—v!

Maciamo, I don't know if I had answer your question, but hopefully this will shed some light. :cool:

Maciamo
Apr 25, 2005, 23:16
Thanks, seasurfer !


Secondly, as I said previously, the tone are fixed, however to express emotion one simply has to change the way he/she phrase his sentence, there are many chinese word that you can add or remove in a sentene to achieve the wanted emotion.

I understand your examples. I guess the words 啊 , D or 啦 are similar to the words "yo", "ne" or "wa" added at the end of a sentence in Japanese. There isn't really any English equivalent, but there are many ways of building a sentence in English to the same effect, adding more or less formality, politeness (e.g. can, could, may, might... for requests), softer, harsher, stronger, weaker, etc. However, this has more to do with directness and intensity than with the nature of the emotions.


Let's say the enthusiatic expression is Yes! I want it!, then in Mandarin, it is also the same by say it with a higher voice or strength, ¥“I!‰ä—v!

I said "enthusiastic praise" not only enthusiasm. For example you can say the word "good" in many difference tones, from a monotone and bored one to an enthusiastic praise that make people cheer up (=> goood!). Imagine a word like "amazing" said with enthusiasm AND surprise like "in wow, it's sooo amaaazing!". In this case it sounds different from praise, but also very different from the tone of a simple surprise. I think the word "really" is a good example for the tones. Look at these examples :

- Surprise+doubt : "You can cross the rope bridge, it's steady" => "Really ?" (said with lack of enthusiasm/confidence)
- Surprise+amusement : "Oh yesterday I saw Jane wearing a Mexican hat in the street" => "really ?" (said with a smile or chuckle)
- Surprise+enthusiam : (father to child) "As you studied well, I am going to buy this new computer you asked me for" => (child) "really ?" (with sparky eyes and rejoicing)
- Surprise+fear : (husband to wife) "I saw something moving under the bed" => (wife) "really ?"
- Only surprise : "Look it's snowing" => "Really" (the person doesn't care so much, but didn't expect snow that day)

These are just a few examples of combination of emotions with "surprise". There are hundreds of combination possible with the main 20 or so basic emotions. Each combination has a unique tone of voice matching it. So you are saying that this different of intonation cannot be heard in Chinese, right ? That must make it more difficult to express one's feelings and understand other people's feelings. What do you think ?

seasurfer
Apr 26, 2005, 01:43
I said "enthusiastic praise" not only enthusiasm. For example you can say the word "good" in many difference tones, from a monotone and bored one to an enthusiastic praise that make people cheer up (=> goood!). Imagine a word like "amazing" said with enthusiasm AND surprise like "in wow, it's sooo amaaazing!". In this case it sounds different from praise, but also very different from the tone of a simple surprise. I think the word "really" is a good example for the tones. Look at these examples :

- Surprise+doubt : "You can cross the rope bridge, it's steady" => "Really ?" (said with lack of enthusiasm/confidence)
- Surprise+amusement : "Oh yesterday I saw Jane wearing a Mexican hat in the street" => "really ?" (said with a smile or chuckle)
- Surprise+enthusiam : (father to child) "As you studied well, I am going to buy this new computer you asked me for" => (child) "really ?" (with sparky eyes and rejoicing)
- Surprise+fear : (husband to wife) "I saw something moving under the bed" => (wife) "really ?"
- Only surprise : "Look it's snowing" => "Really" (the person doesn't care so much, but didn't expect snow that day)

These are just a few examples of combination of emotions with "surprise". There are hundreds of combination possible with the main 20 or so basic emotions. Each combination has a unique tone of voice matching it. So you are saying that this different of intonation cannot be heard in Chinese, right ? That must make it more difficult to express one's feelings and understand other people's feelings. What do you think ?

Hmmm....

This kind of expression does exist in Chinese Mandarin too.

However, in my opinion is it different from English, in english one can just use one word to express so many different emotions with a change in tone. However, in chinese, people normally use different words in all the situations above, and because of the different words, the strength of voice, it really makes the sentence sound differently, giving a person an impression of surprise, doubt or enthusiasm.

We can't compare language to language on the same platform, maybe we can compare language to language on the same platform if they are of the same family. However, mandarin and english are from totally two different non related family, there is no way we can compare it on the same platform.

Different intonation does exist in chinese too, but it is in a different way as in english. Therefore, Mandarin users do not have more difficult time expressing themselves.

That must make it more difficult to express one's feelings and understand other people's feelings. What do you think ?
Regarding understanding other people's feelings, I would say this depends on individual rather than the language itself. Chinese are just like english speakers, can express themselves in anyway they like, so they really have no problem expressing themselves at all, but they express themselves differently from an english speaker. That is also one of the main reasons that makes the different between an english speaker and a chinese speaker.

Using your example,
- Surprise+doubt : "You can cross the rope bridge, it's steady" => "Really ?" (said with lack of enthusiasm/confidence)
A chinese may not answer the equivalent of "really?" in chinese. They may answer back in the equivalent of "are you sure?" / "how do you know?" even if they answer back "really?", it just come with a different strength of voice, rather than different tone, I think, as far as mandarin is concerned, i will say that it is the differences in strength of voice that make it sound so different rather than the tone of voice.

Thus, even with the same word "really?", it can be different just because the strength is different. Moreover, one may need to consider other factors such as smiling, laughing, crying etc. All these emotional expressions change the sound of a person, hence also contributing to how the voice sound like.

I really think that we can't compare English and Chinese in the same manner, both can achieve the same final objective, but through a different pathway.

I don't know if I have answered your question, but I think we can't use an English way to think of Chinese, similary, we can't use chinese way to think of english, english must be thought in english, and hence, chinese must be thought in chinese.

quiet sunshine
Apr 28, 2005, 21:39
Stress on diferent word or change its length could change a sentence's meaning or express diferent emotion. That's just my feeling.

- Surprise+doubt : "You can cross the rope bridge, it's steady" => "Really ?" (said with lack of enthusiasm/confidence)
- Surprise+amusement : "Oh yesterday I saw Jane wearing a Mexican hat in the street" => "really ?" (said with a smile or chuckle)
- Surprise+enthusiam : (father to child) "As you studied well, I am going to buy this new computer you asked me for" => (child) "really ?" (with sparky eyes and rejoicing)
- Surprise+fear : (husband to wife) "I saw something moving under the bed" => (wife) "really ?"
- Only surprise : "Look it's snowing" => "Really" (the person doesn't care so much, but didn't expect snow that day)
Chinese "^“I?" surely can express the above emotions, don't need to add other words. If you heard you could discriminate the speaker's emotion. In my imagination even if you know nothing about a language you can guess the speaker's emotion from the tone,volume,etc.

The first tone is "high-level". Is it more :

- as if it was sung
- as if we said it happily with a smile
- as if we were agreeing and wondering at the same time (e.g. the Japanese "n, ma ne")

The second tone is "rising". Is it more :

- like a question (in Japanese of Romance languages)
- like sounding surprised

The third tone is "low-falling-raising". Is more :

- as if moaning, not being very enthusiastic (you'll have to get at 5am tomorrow => reeally [in a low and depressed voice, slightly rising at the end] ? )

The fourth tone is a "falling tone". Is it more :

- like sounding depressed (e.g. oh nooh)
- like disagreeing strongly, opposing someone (e.g. no ! you won't!)
- like sounding solemn

Interesting, never thought of that, may be applicable to interjection?
Take 嗯 as an example,
en1:hesitated
en2:question or surprised
en3:moaning,unwilling
en4:affirm,happily agreed
I don't know if those tones of this word exist in dictionary, but we use them in daily life.
Your conjecture may make sense, see these interrogatives:
who: 谁 shui2
how: œƒ么 zen3 me
what: Y么shen2 me
where:哪—¢na3 li3
Here's a relative thread:
http://www.pkucn.com/viewthread.php?tid=4786&extra=%26page%3D1&highlight=&page=5
Even though it's in Chinese, It's still too hard to understand for me. :relief:

sango
May 11, 2005, 15:17
Mandarin tones don't sound the same all the time. Just because you mastered how to pronounce tones individually doesn't mean you can say them right strung in a sentence. In a sentence, the tones often "blend" into each other. The highness, lowness, and length of tones vary according to how they're used in the sentence, and there is stress on certain syllables over others. Many tones are "omitted," resulting in the "soft tone." As mentioned, the length of a syllable can vary, and a protracted syllable at the end of a sentence can change tones at the end. And Mandarin doesn't need "ma" at the end of a sentence to indicate question.

1st tone syllables: higher = question, lower (or slightly dropping at the end) = statement
2nd tone syllables: exaggerated rise = question, smaller rise = statement
3rd tone syllables (fall-rise): ends in high rise = question, ends in fall or low rise = statement
4th tone syllables: higher, smaller drop = question, lower and larger drop = statement
For example, the syllable "hao3" (good) used alone sounds like a question when it ends in "rising" (good?) and sounds like a statement when it ends in falling. The third tone is not always completed, and in a sentence often sounds like a low-tone instead of a "dipping" tone.

As for conveying emotion, Mandarin can do that, but it's hard to describe. I hope I didn't scare anyone from trying to learn Mandarin. The emotion-conveying is pretty obvious after you practice listening and doesn't require additional studying-time!

miu
May 11, 2005, 18:55
I didn't read the thread entirely but doesn't Chinese have particles for this purposes? Such as 'le'... I suppose you could speculate that if you contrast the use of tones in a situation, it would convey additional emotion. What I mean is that if you have a certain use of a tone in a certain situation but employ some other convention int he situation, it would add different and contrastive meaning.

Also, maybe it's the case that when you have set expressions such has 'hao/hao ma', you would be able to recognize the semantic meaning even if it was pronounced differently from what it 'should be' -> more freedom in expression emotion through tone of voice. Then there's also other means of expression such as emphasis, volume etc... But I'm just speculating ^^;

Rin Daemoko
Dec 5, 2005, 02:29
Let's say the enthusiatic expression is Yes! I want it!, then in Mandarin, it is also the same by say it with a higher voice or strength, ¥“I!‰ä—v!

谢谢您I “ߐ¥œk—L—p“IB:wave:

I'm just finishing up my Mandarin 100 class at the University (with plans to take 101 next semester). I seem to be great with the language in its written form, but speaking it is difficult for me since I'm very picky about taking the time to sound out the tones. I'm sure I sound like an instructional tape when I do.

I've taken up to Japanese 210 in University, so I have some experience with the characters 汉Žš (Š¿Žš). Just my one class in Mandarin 100 has increased my understanding of these characters a great deal, which will help me a lot with further studies in the Japanese language.

I also learned that a lot of these characters were introduced to Japan by a Japanese monk who went to study Buddhism in China. Very interesting!

metalforce
Feb 8, 2006, 04:37
  

   實在不錯啦 ! 好詳細的見解 ~     

   令我大開眼界 ~ 你們要加油學好中文 ~

   我也要努力學日文同英文 :)


Trixson

Glenn
Feb 8, 2006, 04:54
你不會說英文嗎?

---------------

metalforce
Feb 8, 2006, 19:48
haha ~

of course i do ~

but my english is crap ~ haha ~

Glenn
Feb 8, 2006, 19:56
Oh, alright. You seem to be able to read really well, at any rate. :cool:

ookubo
Feb 15, 2006, 19:12
I was totally confused with the explanation of the tones...new experience
Anyway,my madarin is pretty standard because I am from Beijing......

Glenn
Feb 15, 2006, 19:37
In that case my roommate would probably enjoy speaking to you.

ookubo
Feb 18, 2006, 18:42
In that case my roommate would probably enjoy speaking to you.

Really?

My pleasure.:-)

Glenn
Feb 20, 2006, 21:13
Heh, yeah. I say that because he's pretty big on Beijing Mandarin and doesn't care too much for dialects. But anyway... (PM me if you're interested in talking to him; I'll see what I can do)

ookubo
Feb 21, 2006, 17:04
Heh, yeah. I say that because he's pretty big on Beijing Mandarin and doesn't care too much for dialects. But anyway... (PM me if you're interested in talking to him; I'll see what I can do)

:-) my incorrectly understood

Supervin
Feb 22, 2006, 08:46
I would advise you simply just to learn the 4 tones by rote from a native speaker through classes or audiobooks. (I'm sure there are also reliable audio clips online.) And then just keep practising. They are extremely important at the outset or else you'll get words and pronunciations all mixed up as you go further up.

Don't use analogies with other languages, especially with (somewhat) related languages like Japanese. Else you'll risk having a heavily Japanese accented pronunciation of Mandarin.

dreamer
Mar 16, 2006, 21:28
Just started learning simplified chinese and I must say that it's much more difficult than cantonese or japanese when it comes to speaking :(

Supervin
Mar 17, 2006, 00:47
Hang in there. Although challenging at first, the four tones will seem natural after some time - sort of like a melody. :)

Perhaps you can embrace the fact that Cantonese has anywhere from six to nine tones (even more of a nightmare for the learner actually) - even native Mandarin speakers from China/Taiwan often give up on learning Cantonese.

dreamer
Mar 17, 2006, 04:42
yeah but going from 9 tunes to 4 tunes...somehow I can't seem make it ^^'

bossel
Mar 17, 2006, 10:59
yeah but going from 9 tunes to 4 tunes...somehow I can't seem make it ^^'
Neither do I get on with these tones. Just ignore it for now. Time will help. The more you talk to native speakers the more you'll learn the tones naturally. Most of what you say will be comprehensible through context, anyway.

BTW, Simplified Chinese means just the characters used in the PRC. What you learn is probably full-blown Mandarin.

dreamer
Mar 17, 2006, 18:15
Well...I guess I expressed myself the wrong way again...let's say that this way:

What I am learning:
-how to speak mandarin ( with a teacher from Pekin)
-simplified chinese

What I already know:
-how to speak cantonese
-very small bits of traditional chinese (about 200-300 characters)
-some taiwanese mandarin but without the good tunes

Supervin
Mar 17, 2006, 23:36
Well, I would beg to differ on Bossel's opinion. Mandarin, unlike Japanese, is extremely dependent on the tones, where a slip in tones can render something said to be non-comprehendable or starkly different in meaning.

So, I reiterate, get down the tones adequately and remember them before proceeding with the course. Dreamer, as you have a teacher from Beijing, i.e. a native speaker, this should not be a problem.

Regarding accents, don't worry too much yet unless you want to ensure that you only desire a certain accent. Most teachers from either China or Taiwan will be teaching in the Standard Mandarin accent - 标y•’Ê话 - which is the formal accent spoken in both places, similar to the standard North American accent (in the US) or the Received Pronunciation accent (in the UK) for the English language.

You mention that you know 'bits of Taiwanese Mandarin'. Make sure this isn't just a very broad generalization, in the sense that you tend to pronounce words without much 'sh-', 'zh-' etc. sounds - many Southern parts of China speak like that, including Shanghai.

Taiwanese Mandarin has specific peculiarities for words as well as the accent - a simple example for the former would be the word 'bicycle': Ž©s车 - zixingche (China) and 腳“¥ŽÔ - jiaotache (Taiwan). In casual and non-formal situations for instance, Taiwan Mandarin always prefers the pronunication of 'si' as opposed to the Standard Mandarin pronunication of 'shi', for ¥. As you have a teacher from Beijing, you're not likely to be able to learn Taiwanese Mandarin, if you so desire. Nonetheless, it can be developed at a later stage, if you go to Taiwan for instance.

I personally speak in the Standard Mandarin accent myself for Mandarin. However, people from Hong Kong generally tend to imitate the colloquial Taiwanese accent (which is closer to Cantonese in similarity), but not very well in the sense that it sounds too much like Cantonese. This also goes to show why tones are important at the outset; and try hard to ignore your Cantonese pronunciation tendencies when remembering them.

dreamer
Mar 18, 2006, 00:38
yeah but when you speak it's difficult to think before pronouncing each word...
As for the Taiwanese Vs Pekin mandarin, the sound's quite different (at least to me) and point is that the expressions are also different.

Supervin
Mar 18, 2006, 01:28
yeah but when you speak it's difficult to think before pronouncing each word...
As for the Taiwanese Vs Pekin mandarin, the sound's quite different (at least to me) and point is that the expressions are also different.
Well, that's inevitable - it's part of the process.

dreamer
Mar 18, 2006, 02:19
Do you mind if I'm asking you when did you begin to learn mandarin and how long it took you to be able to speak it fluently?

Supervin
Mar 18, 2006, 02:44
Sure, I started half way in high school and took Mandarin as a foreign language - for about four years. Eventually, during high school, I took the GCSE and A-level exams (UK qualifications) which included the Chinese subject. This got me to about 'intermediate level', which would be equivalent to about the standard of a first year high school student for local, Mandarin native speaking countries and about the same as Secondary 1 Hong Kong.

After that, during university, I just self-studied for a few of years in my own time after school, and reached native standard last year. And because I could speak Cantonese, a lot of things are inter-convertible once I got the hang of things. Ordinarily, it would've take much longer without it.

dreamer
Mar 18, 2006, 03:08
hahaha I see ^^'
So somehow, the curse turned out to be a blessing in the end...
The problem is that I have only 2hours of chinese/week which to my mind is far from enough to let me learn the language...

bossel
Mar 18, 2006, 10:12
Well, I would beg to differ on Bossel's opinion. Mandarin, unlike Japanese, is extremely dependent on the tones, where a slip in tones can render something said to be non-comprehendable or starkly different in meaning.
Yes & no. As I said it depends on the context.
I noticed that in everyday speech the tones often don't seem to be very distinct. From my experience with my Chinese friends & aquaintancees this leads to a quite large number of misunderstandings.

dreamer
Mar 18, 2006, 15:21
Well...point is that when I'm using the wrong tones, the chinese students just don't seem to unerstand me ^^'

Dharma
Mar 21, 2006, 11:47
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandarin_language

You could find out more about it here. I was shocked when I was told that there were actually 8,000 types of dialect in China.

Another Aoi Fan
Mar 21, 2006, 12:03
Lets have an example.... Ma --> Mother, ext.

First tone is a line: - (Over the A) And you can remember the sound because its a line over. So its straight so it doesn't go up/down and its high. So Ma. Its sounds peaceful, smooth and long.

Second tone is a line going up: / --> sorta. hahaha. It goes over the A also. You can rember that because it since it goes up, your voice has to go up. Eg. When your shocked you go: WHAT? Very fast and yell it. Thats how it goes up.

Third tone is a v shape: (over the A) v Remeber this by thinking about the v. The top of the V is your yeah and the bottom is your stomach. Its deep. So its in your stomach. Its like... a low pitch sound. Like... when you learn your not going to your favorite place you go: Oh....

Fourth tone is like the opposite way of the second: (right to left instead of left to right) --> Sorta. lol It goes over the A. Its quick and fast like your hand hitting the table. Therefore it goes up to down when you write it over the A. So its REALLY fast.

Therefore, all of these words mean a diffrent meaning. If you need anymore help, jsut ask me! ^^

dreamer
Mar 21, 2006, 17:34
I know about the tones since I'm not a total beginer but I just can't seem to place them in a conversation xD

By the way, I kinda feel like there's a tone modification when two characters with the same tone follow each-other, can anyone tell me more about it?

thank you very much

Supervin
Mar 21, 2006, 19:16
By the way, I kinda feel like there's a tone modification when two characters with the same tone follow each-other, can anyone tell me more about it?
thank you very much
This occurs at times when there are two consecutive characters which are in the third tone individually. In this case, instead of both characters in the third tone, this will be modified to the first character in the the second tone followed by the second character in the third tone.

For instance, "Ni3 you3 wu3 ben3 shu1" (你—LŒÜ–{书; "You have five books") is actually spoken as "Ni2 you3 wu2 ben3 shu1".

Another common tone modification is the pronunciation of the word "bu4" (•s). If the character which follows it is also in the fourth tone, the "bu4" changes to the second tone "bu2".

For example, "Bu4 shi4" (•s¥; "No, not") is pronounced "Bu2 shi4".

But don't worry about these at first - it comes naturally sooner or later.

dreamer
Mar 22, 2006, 20:03
dang...seems complicate to pronounce xD