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standard mandarin


skyblue

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hi

i have a question....

if you're wanting to go to china to study chinese, which region would be the best place considering the way they speak mandarin? i've heard mandarin speakers from shang hai and from taiwan don't speak mandarin very clearly. I think they roll their tongue a bit much in beijing, but is this the "standard" mandarin?

thanks

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Any region will be fine, in my opinion.

Standard Mandarin was established by committee (perhaps more than one) over the years in the earlier twentieth century. It is based on the Mandarin of Beijing, but certain sounds in the Beijing dialect were not easy for non-native speakers to pronounce, so modifications were made.

By now most people a foreigner visiting China will meet can speak standard mandarin quite fluently, even in the Cantonese regions of China. I once had a Shanghainese friend tell me it gave her a headache to speak Mandarin, but I'll bet it was MY mandarin that was giving her the headache.

I learned to speak Mandarin in Taiwan. People in Taiwan have trouble with the retroflexed zhi, chi, shi sounds. There are some other differences. But nothing that has prevented me from speaking Chinese to a wide variety of Chinese.

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thanks.i'm not even sure what standard mandarin sounds like. is anyone familiar with the mandarin speaking movies from the shaw brothers in the 60s and 70s....would these be considered standard mandarin...

apparently the chinese really pay attention to these things themselves. i never noticed the difference until i started to hang out with the chinese and there was always mention of "biao zhun pu tong hua".....so i started to wonder....

i am a chinese myself and was told i don't speak standard mandarin.

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If you are actively studying Chinese (rather than just absorbing it from your environment) then by the time you can distinguish standard and non-standard Mandarin you will know enough to avoid taking on a non-standard accent.

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All my friends in Beijing, and the friends of my girlfriend, tell me that its obvious I learned my Chinese in Beijing.

The mother of an old friend back home in the US is Taiwanese. Whenever I see her (once a year,on my visits home), she hits me in the shoulder if I deviate from HER understanding of how I should be pronouncing things.

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Putonghua is based on the Chinese spoken in Beijing, but the most standard Putonghua is considered to be spoken in the north-east.

But really, every decent Chinese course will teach you decent Mandarin, even if what you hear on the street is sometimes different from what you learn in class. Taiwanese speak their Guoyu actually clearer (in my opinion) than Beijingnese, but they hardly have any retroflexes and leave out all erhua.

I thought the Shaw brothers were Hong Kong filmmakers, who presumably would make films in Cantonese? They might have been dubbed in Mandarin, in which case it's presumably rather standard Mandarin.

If your Chinese friends understand you without problems, they should just leave your accent alone, in my opinion. If it really bothers you, you could try asking them what exactly is not biaozhun about your accent, and try to adjust that.

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If you study at a university, chances are that you'll run into Chinese people from all over anyway. This is very good. It would be crap if you could only understand very standard Beijing Mandarin and would be at loss whenver you meet someone from Henan or Sichuan. That kind of takes away the whole purpose about learning Chinese.

Most urban people in the greater north speak in a more or less standard fashion. Whenever you go to the countryside - regardless of where you are - you'll find that people speak in a more dialectal way.

At the end, I think it has a lot to do with personal preferences. Once we've learnt Mandarin for a while, most of us probably have a rough idea of what kind of accent we would like to develop. I started learning Chinese in Beijing and back then, I thought that everyone said 一点儿, 一下儿, 门儿, 东边儿,一瓶儿, etc. since that's how we were taught in class. With the exception of 一点儿, however, I don't think that these varieties can be considered standard Mandarin. Of course, some people really like this accent and it suits them well. It sounds absolutely horrible when I try to speak like that though, so personally, I've come to minimize my 儿s lately. I have the impression that some foreign Chinese learners believe that you have to use a lot of 儿 in Mandarin, and come to add on a lot of 儿 despite being physically unable to make the proper noise, making their accents unnecessarily bad as a result. I think that you cannot consider 哪里 any less standard than 哪儿, 一点 any less standard than 一点儿, or 小孩(子) and less standard than 小孩儿. Yet, in Beijing, you won't hear a lot of people speak like that.

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Well said, yonglin.

I may go a step further to say that 哪里is more standard than 哪儿but I'm probably pushing it.

I have been reading 儒林外史which is an 18th century vernacular novel. I think much of the standardization of Mandarin was based on these vernacular novels. You will not find any 儿in these novels to be certain.

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hi lu

most standard mandarin in the north east? is that harbin like kdavid says?

the shaw brothers also make movies in mandarin, especially the huang mei diao movies...i love the sound of mandarin from these movies so i was just wondering what accent of mandarin they have.

sam --

we are from the shan tou area of guang dong, but i have yet to go there for at least once in my life.

yonglin --

it's more about loving to listen to a certain type of accent....i don't have a problem understanding mandarin from different people of different accent...but thanks for the explanation it does help me understand the situation more.

everyone else -

thank you

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If you want to hear the "standard" Mandarin, you should probably listen to some of the state-owned media, like CCTV, they should have rather "standard" pronunciation.

I find that the chinesepod.com staff has very clear pronunciation, you can try downloading some of the advanced lessons and giving it a listen.

I think that the "standard" Mandarin is a bit like the BBC English in the sense that very few regions speak exactly like that, it's just a golden standard, which is most closely approximated by how the people speak in the north-East. Similar thing with standard German, which is apparently only really spoken around Hanover. Most other places have their regionalisms. Therefore, the TV and radio presenters, trained actors, and similar professions should be the closest to it.

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I have been reading 儒林外史which is an 18th century vernacular novel. I think much of the standardization of Mandarin was based on these vernacular novels. You will not find any 儿in these novels to be certain.

You won't necessarily find 儿 suffixes marked in modern novels either, even if they're set in Beijing and written by a native of Beijing. The written form of any language, even when quoting speech, usually deviates substantially from the spoken form.

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I find that the chinesepod.com staff has very clear pronunciation,
Clear pronunciation - yes, standard pronunciation - not always. I'm not sure about the other levels, but in advanced at least, it's not uncommon to hear incorrect finals e.g. -n instead of -ng.
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It's interesting that different people's opinion on standard Mandarin is well, different.

Even teachers often mispronounce some initials and finals when they are not paying attention, even when they do, and forget the correct pinyin in some instances.

In my opinion, it's important to pay attention and try to speak as correctly as possible but accept that there are varieties even within standard Mandarin (Beijing, Taiwan, Mandarin spoken southern provinces).

Beijing Mandarin is considered the "most" standard but they use too much 儿.

Hanover German is closer to standard but they often pronounce "stehen" as "stehen", not shtehen.

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most standard mandarin in the north east? is that harbin like kdavid says?
As you can probably see on any map of China, yes, Harbin is in the northeast.

Sam Addington: what mugi says, -r is usually not written out, so its absence in novels doesn't say anything about pronounciation in the time that novel was written.

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But really, every decent Chinese course will teach you decent Mandarin, even if what you hear on the street is sometimes different from what you learn in class. Taiwanese speak their Guoyu actually clearer (in my opinion) than Beijingnese, but they hardly have any retroflexes and leave out all erhua.

According to my Taiwanese teacher (that I had for just a month last year), they don't leave all of the er hua out, but they have much less of it than beijing.

Another characteristic is that the Taiwanese use the neutral tone much less than mainlanders.

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In my experience, the Mandarin of Taiwanese Mandarin teachers is more standard (ie more erhua, more zh ch sh) than that of other Taiwanese. What I usually hear around me is no erhua at all, people even leave out the -r in 二.

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