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Seeking samples of learner pronunciation


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As part of some feasibility testing for a new pronunciation-evaluation service, I've been asked to put together some samples of learners of Chinese producing various Chinese syllables. In exchange you'll get an evaluation of your pronunciation, although I need to make it clear that I don't know how long that will take, and what form it will be. It might be a detailed analysis of each syllable, it might be along the lines of 'not bad, but your fourth tones need work'. It'll also likely be in Chinese, although I guess I can translate it for anyone who asks.

Anyone learning Chinese is welcome - doesn't matter what level you are or how long you've been studying for, and the recording won't be used for anything else except a bit of practice at listening to / evaluating learners' pronunciation.

I'd anticipate you recording 5-10 minutes of stuff, longer if you want, nothing complicated, just isolated syllables (ie xiong, jiong, qiong), using Audacity or similar tool (will help you get that set up if necessary).

On that basis - anyone interested? Reply in here, pm, or email all welcome.

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Hi Roddy,

I would like to take part. Reading out some Tang poems is suitable, I guess sine the syllables can be read out in isolation.

I will have to ask someone about the programme you mention.I have a normal handheld recorder I use for interviews so I guess that is al right.

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To be honest at the moment we're keeping it as simple as possible, and that means sticking to a very narrow data set - basically sets of single syllables, we're not at this point even looking at the word level.

Any format is fine though.

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Yep, I've got together a couple of lists - one is basically all pinyin syllables which is pretty substantial and I don't really expect anyone to volunteer to do that (I estimate it would take 20-30 minutes reading at a slow, careful pace), but I've been asked to get it done if possible; and a second one which is about 40-50 syllables covering all initials and finals, but not all possible combinations.

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What's the purpose, Roddy?

A bit of warning, he-he. :mrgreen: My teachers/Chinese friends praise me for my pronunciation, meaning that, at least, short syllables in isolation I pronounce quite OK, no probs with initials and tones. I have problems getting to fluent speed reading, though. If the purpose is to demonstrate a bad/foreign pronunciation, I might be a bad example.

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At the moment we're looking at setting up some kind of service where people could submit samples of their pronunciation for evaluation by, basically, experts - in this case a trainer and examiner for the 普通话测试, who also has a fair bit of experience in teaching foreigners. The idea would be to provide feedback not just on right / wrong, but on why its wrong, and I've been asked to come up with a range of samples so we can get a feel for the types of mistakes that are made, how time-consuming it would be to listen and diagnose the samples, etc.

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yeah get me on board Rodster... although i would reckon that reading a list of pre-set words that actually have no meaning (like the pinyin proncunciation chart) will detract from the excercise, since whether or not you're good at your tones depends on your ability to intuitively change tones where required, so you aren't doing consecutive 3rd tones and the like.

I would recommend that you have people read a prescribed text that is long enough to contain a nice range of tones in it, with a nice mix of different syllables. Tones are independent of syllables, like overhead projector sheet. You can say any single syllable english word with a tone on top, or even a stupid noise, and the tone doesn't seem to feel any less valid...

Just clip a newspaper article, whack the tones on it (i think a website can add pinyin with tonemarks under text for you, a link for it in zhongwen.com or xuezhongwen.net somewhere... )

What do you think?

Wan Neng

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Like I said, at this stage the original idea was to build up a small (tiny, really) corpus of how learners speak at the most basic level. Ideally I'd still like to do that. However the response has been somewhat lukewarm* . . .

I may come back to you with a suggestion of brief texts later in the week. I can see how that would be more interesting.

*Which does not detract from the burning gratitude I feel towards those who offered to help :)

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Ok, let's have another shot at this, taking into account this time everyone's understandable desire not to bore themselves to death.

This time round - record anything you want, but please

a) limit it to 3 minutes

B) provide the text in the email body, or an attached .doc or .txt

c) let us know what your native language is and how long you've been learning Chinese

d) if at all possible, use the piece suggested below so we can compare different learners performing the same piece. But as I say, we'll take what we can get.

e) Email to [email protected] . . .

Suggested reading: I've picked out one of the readings from the 普通话测试 . I chose this one (no.7) as I think it's one of the simpler pieces and has a fair amount of dialogue, so it should be suitable for the widest range of levels. You can download an mp3 version here (number 7 in the top block) and I'm about to attach a Word document with the text and pinyin. If you feel it's too long, simply read a section of it (probably a good idea for anyone who's reading slowly as at normal speed it's about three minutes . . . )


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Hey Roddy,

I'm a sucker for helping people with their research, especially in the area of language learning. I'll be happy to read for them, but since I'm at beginner's level (sort of), I'd need it to be pinyin based or pretty simple character level. Boredom's no problem. Just tell me what you want me to do and how (technically).


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Thank you, Roddy. An interesting text. I am taking a Chinese exam next week, please bear with me. I'll record when I have a chance. :)

I spotted one error in pinyin:

gāoxīng -> gāoxìng

a word list (someone may need it):

靠在 kàozài v.p. lean against/on

赚[賺] ²zhuàn v. ①make a profit; gain ②〈topo.〉 earn ◆n. 〈topo.〉 profit

哀求 āiqiú v./n. entreat; implore

道 [dào] way, path; say

发怒[發-] fānù v.o. infuriate; flare up

毫无[-無] háowú* v.p. completely lack

意义[-義] ¹yìyì* n. meaning; sense; significance

假如 jiǎrú conj. if; supposing; in case

自私 zìsī* s.v. selfish; self-centered

游戏[-戲] yóuxì* v. play ◆n. recreation; game

默默 ¹mòmò* r.f. ①quietly; silently; secretly ②deserted and silent ③discontented; displeased

平静下来[-靜-來] píngjìng xiàlái r.v. calm down

心想 ¹xīnxiǎng v.p. think; assume

凶 [xiōng] terrible; 凶恶 xiōng'è fiendish; 凶猛 xiōngměng ferocious

或许[-許] huòxǔ adv. perhaps; maybe

要钱[-錢] yàoqián* v.o. ①ask for money ②charge

醒 ¹xǐng v. ①wake up; be awake

发火[發-] fāhuǒ v.o. ①catch fire; ignite ②detonate; go off ③get angry; flare up; lose one's temper

枕头[-頭] zhěntou n. pillow

弄皱[-皺] nòngzhòu* r.v. wrinkle; ruffle

钞票[鈔-] chāopiào n. bank note; paper money; bill M:¹zhāng/kǔn

不解 bùjiě* v. not understand

凑[湊] ¹còu v. ①gather together; pool; collect ②happen by chance ③take advantage of ④move close to; press near


Edit: the exam is tomorrow (26.06). Should have some time after this.

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1) Thanks to those who sent in pinyin samples.

2) Atitarev, thanks for the correction and word list - I've fixed that error now and have also added the word list into the document

3) Madot, I'd suggest you just try the document attached above - if it looks too challenging, just try one paragraph and see how that works. For the actual recording you could try Audacity and let us know if and when you hit problems.

4) Will be out of China for the summer, but things will keep moving on this - but maybe slower.

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