View Full Version : Pronunciations of Y

Apr 17, 2007, 01:47
I recently looked up the character 什 on zhongwen.com, and it showed me three pronunciations, with abbreviations I don't understand. It looks like this:

shí, [國] shé, [普] shén

I'm not what these 國 and 普 notations are referring to. Does anyone here know? I have the feeling that 國 refers to the Taiwan dialect while 普 refers to mainland Mandarin. If that's the case, to which dialect does shí belong?

Sorry for such a n00b question.

Apr 17, 2007, 01:59
You're right about 國 and 普. 國 comes from 國語, what they call the language in Taiwan, and 普 comes from 普通話, the standard name for Mandarin on the mainland. Not sure about the first reading, though.

If I had to guess about the first reading, I'd say it's the actual reading of the character, and that the other two were just appended when they started using it for 什么 (甚麼). If memory serves me correct it originally (that is, before using it in 什么) meant "ten people," or maybe it was just another way of writing "ten."

Apr 17, 2007, 07:41
Yes, so 國 is short for Mandarin in Taiwan and 普 is short for Mandarin in China.

The difference between shé (Taiwan) and shén (China) is optional. The latter seems to be more prevalent. If the latter is adopted, it's worth noting that in the compound 什么 shénme, the shén can still sound like shé with the n sound dropped in normal speed.

什 is also an alternative way of writing 十, like how 一 can be written as 壹 (or as 壱 in Japanese), and so in that case, it is pronounced as shí for 'ten'.

Apr 17, 2007, 07:58
I see. That makes sense. Thanks to both of you.