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ZhuGeLiang70

Regional accents of mandarin

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ZhuGeLiang70

I have been studying mandarin for more than 8 years in my spare time. When I listen to the advanced lessons at chinesepod.com I can understand 98%.

I am now stationed temporary at a university in China. Sometimes when the guys at the lab where I work speak to each other, my listening comprehension is close to 0%. I can even be difficult to hear that it is mandarin.

The problem with for example chinesepod and other sources is that most of it is recorded in perfectly pronounced mandarin. This is good for beginners but not for advanced students. I'm therefor looking for some study material recording in regional accents of mandarin.

Any ideas?

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calibre2001

Just keep talking to people. Listening comprehension will naturally improve. It's all about getting used to.

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Lu

Where in China are you, or where are your colleagues from? Maybe some people here can give you some pointers on what they would pronounce differently. That's assuming they're speaking Mandarin to each other: if they are all from the same non-Mandarin-speaking area, they might be speaking in fangyan and then it'd be strange if you did understand.

Is this your first time in China? If so, I think it's not so strange that you have some difficulty understanding. Don't be discouraged. Just keep listening, when you get used to their accent (assuming it's just an accent), things will get better.

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zozzen

bingo! As a member in this forum put it in another thread, bad (accented) mandarin is everywhere in china and it's almost impossible to communicate with everyone with perfect mandarin accent.

The accents of mandarin can be divided into these categories. If your mandarin is good enough, go to the following area for a month and you should find it fairly easy to adapt to local mandarin accent (not dialects)

雲貴川 (Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou) -- The dialects (西南官話) in these areas are very close to putonghua. My friend from Sichuan often speak Sichuanese to another guy from Kunming and they are okay to communicate with each other.

廣東/廣西/湖南/ 湖北/ 台灣 (南部) - Their dialects are very different from putonghua and different from each other, but their putonghua shares many common "southern" characteristics -- always confused with xi, si , chi, zhi , ji , and "r" sound is very light.

東北, 江浙 should have their accents too, but i have no ideas about it.

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bamboo
東北, ...should have their accents too, but i have no ideas about it.

If you watch TV, you can get quite a dose of 东北 accent (every other week?) from a certain category of tv serials (连续剧)usually war movies otherwise known as "打日本鬼子“ :D

Instead of : "你干吗?" the 东北 dialect goes: " 你干啥(sha)?"

I am not too certain of the last character!

Yep, it's quite lovely, a bit like the Scottish accent vs the normal English RP/BBC twang.:lol:

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mirgcire

I am in the US and here the Chinese people are from all over, so linguistically it is like being in many regions at once :mrgreen:

I would love to see a chart by region that shows how the pronunciations differ. I am sure that the number of differences is not so large, but they tend to affect a lot of words. And hence comprenhention grinds to a halt until you can get a clue. My theory is that the chart would make it possible to have a better idea of what to expect and speed up the adjustment.

Of course this is purely hypothetical, cuz I have never seen such a chart, but it sure sounds interesting and potentially useful.

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ZhuGeLiang70

Thank you for the comments.

My colleagues are from all over China so the accents are very mixed. Some accents are easy to understand while others are difficult. I found the accents in Zhejiang to be very difficult.

Anyhow, I have friend from the Guangdong province. He complains the other chinese often have problem understanding his mandarin. It seems like it is not only difficult for forigners to understand accents.

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atitarev
bingo! As a member in this forum put it in another thread, bad (accented) mandarin is everywhere in china and it's almost impossible to communicate with everyone with perfect mandarin accent.

Did you quote me? Bad Mandarin is the most common language in China, LOL.

I think the trick is to be able to speak/understand a few varieties of Mandarin. Then, a few variations don't seem to be too bad.

Now, when I think back about my German or English studies, not everyone speaks with a standard language but it doesn't mean they don't speak their language "properly" on a native level. I have changed my opinion on this.

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trien27
江浙 should have their accents too, but i have no ideas about it.

Shanghai and Wenzhou are cities in 江浙省 [Zhejiang Province]. I've been fortunate enough to have heard Shanghainese and Wenzhou hua being spoken when I was in college. Wenzhou hua and Shanghainese are similar, but not the same. In Shanghainese, they would say "va" instead of "ba" [as in Mandarin] for 吧.

Anyhow, I have friend from the Guangdong province. He complains the other chinese often have problem understanding his mandarin.

I think it's hard for Cantonese speakers to learn Mandarin, if they hadn't been taught any of it in school. They often mix up Cantonese sounds that don't exist in Mandarin and speak in Mandarin as if it does, not knowing that there's other terms in Mandarin for the same thing: honey[made from bees]:in Cantonese, it's 蜜糖 [muht-tong], but in Mandarin, it's 蜂蜜[feng mi]! I speak Cantonese at home. I learned Mandarin from teachers who were from Taiwan, then I learned pinyin while taking a Chinese course in college.

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skylee
江浙 should have their accents too' date=' but i have no ideas about it. [/quote']

Shanghai and Wenzhou are cities in 江浙省 [Zhejiang Province].

江浙 refers to the Jiangsu Province (江蘇省) and Zhejiang Province (浙江省). Nowadays Shanghai does not belong to either province but is a 直轄市.

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bamboo
I have been studying mandarin for more than 8 years in my spare time......Sometimes when the guys at the lab where I work speak to each other, my listening comprehension is close to 0%.

I have been studying Putonghua for more than 8 years in my spare time.....before

I came to Shanghai about 4 years ago.

At first I thought that most "graduates" or young people(under 40) from Shanghai can speak or converse in Putonghua fluently, at least more fluently than most people like myself who have to learn Putonghua as a second or third language abroad like say in Hong Kong. In Shanghai most people learn Putonghua only as a 'technical" language, to get through school or university, to hold down a job. etc. This does not in any way mean that they can actually converse fluently in the language. Putonghua is not a "mother tongue" like Cantonese is in Hong Kong. The moment the locals have to talk to their mothers, aunties, girlfriends, boyfriends, fellow Shanghainese, they switch to Shanghainese or whatever local dialect they speak at home. The moment they want to have an argument, exchange insults, "cut through the red tape", they speak in Shanghainese or Zhejiangnese etc. In Hong Kong when you insult someone, of course you use Cantonese, otherwise the insult would never reach home. Here most people would be hard pressed to list 5 insults they would use in Putonghua.

When I first arrived in China whenever there were some misunderstandings "at work" between myself and other co-workers, inwardly, I used to put the blame entirely on my beginner's Putonghua, after all what is 10 years of part-time learning especially since this is already my third major language. Besides, there weren't even sufficient opportunities in Hong Kong to use Putonghua before 1997. Well, that was what I thought until I began to mentally "separate" the people who can really converse or express themselves in Putonghua from those who just pretended they "understood". Believe me there are plenty.:mrgreen: There are lots and lots of Shanghainese graduates who pretend they understand conversational English especially those working in the "IT" field. I pretend my English is not too good because I just don't want to waste time. :wink: And, I need the Putonghua practice. I need to speak in my WenJiaBao's (温家宝)style, putonghua. :lol:

The more you become "intimidated" by so called "native" Shanghainese Putonghua speakers, the more mistakes you tend to make in your own "beginners" Putonghua, and the mistakes of both sides just compound. The first thing to do is to show your understanding of what the other guy is saying by listening, then to speak what you want to say in extreme slowness and clarity. After you refuse to get "intimidated", and you speak really slowly (confidently), the other side begin to improve their pronunciation! (sh)

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wrbt

I live in the US so most of the study/practice materials I've heard are Shanghai, Beijing, and Taiwan accents.

I have a very difficult time understanding the Mandarin speakers from Xiang Gang who populate most of the restaurants around here. When I do encounter someone from Beijing or Shanghai it's like a relief, affirmation that yes I can understand Chinese after these years of study.

When I was in Xian I had a pretty easy time understanding people too.

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wan_neng

Don't you sometimes wonder whether the dialect speaker you often talk with is getting better at mandarin, or if you're getting better at their dialect?

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LaoLiang

"chinesepod and other sources is that most of it is recorded in perfectly pronounced mandarin."

Could you please provide a few examples of such a Chinesepod podcast as all the pods I listened to are definitely far from "perfectly pronounced mandarin". This is actually the main reason I do not use Chinesepod, however I would love to if you could point out some pods that do not include "jenny" (?) as an example. Or perhaps you just meant "pronounced slowly"?

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bamboo

I think somebody read the thread about "standard mandarin" where I think renzhe commented about Chinesepod and then attached a comment here under "Regional accents of mandarin". :roll: (maybe a case for combining these two broadly similar topic threads)

I like watching 凤凰台。(ifeng.com) I am not sure where LaoLiang is it is possible to recieve such fine Chinese TV. I particularly like some female presenters because their voices are quite clear and so easy to understand. I'll post a list of their names and my official 'assessment' of Mandarin voice quality later next week. We are in the middle of a public holiday weekend at the moment in China - 端午节 and UEFA is also on ESPN! (so a bit busy)

Next week we've got the NBA finals I think.... and summer is here....

What do the rest of you think about the pronunciation of various anchors on 凤凰台?:D

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ZhuGeLiang70

"Could you please provide a few examples of such a Chinesepod podcast as all the pods I listened to are definitely far from "perfectly pronounced mandarin". This is actually the main reason I do not use Chinesepod, however I would love to if you could point out some pods that do not include "jenny" (?) as an example. "

Jenny's accent is perhaps not perfect but it must be said to be very standardized. If every one in China spoke like Jenny, it would be a peice of a cake to understand mandarin.

You will not find many persons who can speak better. Even in Beijing most people cannot speak completely standardized since they speak more beijinghua rather than standardized putonghua.

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huisheng

Most of the news presenters on 凤凰台 are Taiwanese, obviously. Taiwanese Mandarin sounds fine to my ears except young women's uptalk, which is commonly used among those who pretend to be cute. Actually supposedly gay characters in Taiwanese drama use uptalk a lot too.

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wushijiao
I particularly like some female presenters because their voices are quite clear and so easy to understand.

Two of my friends are female presenters on that station (on the morning shows). Yes, their Putonghua is perfect, although some of the other people who have progrmas on the station, like 阮次山, and the guy who does the summary of the news, have fairly accented Putonghua.

In any case, here is a small tip for getting better at undertanding accented Mandarin: listen for tones. You can listen to a section of a tape or podast in Mandarin, and take about one or two sentences and try to mark all the tones that you hear (not that you have academically memorized in theory). Then compare it to a transcript to see if you made any mistakes.

For the first few years of my Putonghua study, I listened to pinyin as the main guide for understanding. I lived in Henan and Beijing, so that worked out ok, with some exceptions. But moving to Shanghai shocked me a bit, as, obviously, they pronounce things in their own style. I used to hear something like sijian, and I'd mentally have to think of context and other possibilities (like playing "Wheel of Fortune" in my head, searching for the missing letters) like shijian 时间, and I'd guess it correctly. That system works ok, but it's not nearly as effecient as really going out of your way to listen for the tones. I believe that if you do lots of small, controled drills, you can slowly get better and better, and it's probably the most useful thing in understanding accented Mandarin, as pronunciation varies far more widely than tones do.

Besides that, I think the two biggest factors in understanding accented Putonghua is just simple exposure time of listening practice to the particular accented type of speech (you can gain exposure by chatting with folks or by watching local TV, dramas...etc), and the second factor is one's vocabulary level. If someone's pronunciation is causing you difficulties, but you understand 95% of what they are saying, then you can probably figure out those difficult words that make up the 5%. But if it's 50%/50%, good luck! :D

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calibre2001

Some random samples of various mandarin accents. i tried to find localised street versions but it's not so easy to find.


http://www.msllearningcenter.com/sounds/pod_55_20070105.mp3 [xiamen]

[from 6:03] [xiamen]


http://www.msllearningcenter.com/sounds/pod_51_20061201.mp3 [shanghai]

[taiwan]

[from 1:15] [hong kong]

[malaysia]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3LkjtvB2X4&feature=related [singapore]

[singapore]

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