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Thread: Chinese tones

  1. #26
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    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.

  2. #27
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    Just started learning simplified chinese and I must say that it's much more difficult than cantonese or japanese when it comes to speaking
    One of the most adventurous things left for us is to go to bed. For no one can lay a hand on our dreams....

  3. #28
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #29
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    yeah but going from 9 tunes to 4 tunes...somehow I can't seem make it ^^'

  5. #30
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamer
    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.

  6. #31
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    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

  7. #32
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    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': s车 - zixingche (China) and 腳 - 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.

  8. #33
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    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.

  9. #34
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamer
    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.

  10. #35
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    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?

  11. #36
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    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.

  12. #37
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    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...

  13. #38
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supervin
    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.

  14. #39
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    Well...point is that when I'm using the wrong tones, the chinese students just don't seem to unerstand me ^^'

  15. #40
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    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.

  16. #41
    Regular Member Another Aoi Fan's Avatar
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    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! ^^
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  17. #42
    Traveler of eternity dreamer's Avatar
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    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

  18. #43
    Regular Member Supervin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamer
    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Lܖ{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.

  19. #44
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    dang...seems complicate to pronounce xD

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