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Hubei dialect: what to watch out for


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My wife is from Hubei and has been teaching me some Mandarin. She does know and can pronounce standard putonghua but sometimes I think she unintentionally reverts to her more native pronunciation. I know that the Hubei dialect is "no curling sound" or something and things like "nan" may sound like "lan." She also said that people in Hubei may pronounce "shi" more like "si". I'm wondering if there's any advice people have that might help me avoid accidentally learning "hubeihua" and confusing it with putonghua and maybe help me understand people in Hubei better when I travel there. Thanks

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Sichuan has the same pronunciation issues and I think the best was is just to familarize yourself with it and then be aware of it so as to retranslate it into your own head. You will have to use context a lot to be sure of what you are hearing. This is what I do and if something doesn't make sense I try and flip the sound in my head and see if it makes more sense then. But I find the most annoying yet actually easier to distinguish is the l n conflict.

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Hubei dialects are generally much closer to "standard" Putonghua than Sichuan dialects. The latter seem to have only two or three tones, depending on who you are talking to. I've known a a few people from Hubei, and when speaking to non-Hubei people, they all spoke four tone Putonghua, though for a few odd words, they reverted to tones that were what seemed right to them rather than what are considered standard putonghua tones. Some of them do tend to not do the retroflex sounds, but once you listen to them long enough, you'll match up in our head the patterns of Hubei speech to what's considered "standard."

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