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non-dictionary pronunciations


tooironic
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Recently I've been fascinated by the few words in Chinese which are pronounced differently to how they are notated in dictionaries. So far I've bumped into two:

绯闻 - "sex scandals, rumours, tabloid stories" - dictionary prounciation: fēiwén - real-life pronunciation: fěiwén

侮辱 - "insult" - dict pro: wǔrǔ - real-life pro: wūrǔ

I also followed this thread with interest, talking about 即 (jí) and how some people have reported some native speakers as pronouncing it as jì.

Does anyone know of any other words like this, or the reason behind them?

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Unfortunately varying pronunciations (both tones and even the actual sound of the word) vary more than you may think - essentially every chinese speaking region out there will have it's own tendencies and differences. Out here in Taiwan, for instance, there are hundreds of variations from what most dictionaries will show as the "proper tone", and even then in many situations you can say a word in any of two or more ways. There's not exactly a correct way to say it, just personal preference. Two examples that come to mind: 勉強 / 勉强 - reluctantly do something - some pronounce this as mian3qiang3, others as mian3qiang2. Or 偶爾 / 偶尔 - "every now and then" - either ou3er2 or ou3er3.

You can learn one way as the first time you learn a word, and then as you actually try to use it in whichever part of Asia you live you may find that people pronounce that word differently that you thought, in which case you can adjust accordingly. Go with the flow on this one. :)

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There are a lot of words like that. There's no reason behind it, simply develops regionally (well technically speaking, I'm sure there is a linguistic theory that explain the reason behind it, but I wouldn't know things like that).

Think of any other language. Are all the words pronounced the same everywhere else? Thinking English for example, pronunciation in USA's south region and north region differ quite a bit. Whatever the reason for it is, is the same reason for Chinese. Just not as noticable when you are fluent/native in a language as it is when you are learning a language.

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癌症 dictionary: yan2zheng4, actually: ai2zheng4.

I've been told that Taiwan's Ministry of Education wanted to make the official pronounciation of 牛仔裤 to niu2zi3ku4, which would be ridiculous, as it's niu2zai3ku4 to everyone. I hope they didn't go through with that.

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in Shanghai, a lot of the times I hear yin1wei2, but yin1wei4 is maybe more common. It really depends on the kind of emphasis the person is making. But yeah, technically speaking yin1wei4 is the only correct one.

Also, I dunno but my dictionary says 癌症 ai2zheng4 not yan2zheng4. Actually for the character 癌, it specifically mentions not to misread it as yan2. I'm guessing it's read yan2 in classical chinese? My dictionary does not elaborate. Let me know, if you know.

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Imron, out of curiosity where do people say yin1wei2? I've never heard that one.

omg that one is everywhere....so are:

一会儿 often said as yi4hui3er instead of yi2hui4er

比较 often said as bi3jiao4 instead of bi3jiao3

:evil:

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The pronunciation for 癌 was deliberately changed from yan2 to ai2 in Mandarin (although I'm not sure when) so that it wouldn't be confused with 炎 (癌症 vs 炎症).

一会儿 was originally a Beijing colloquialism pronounced yi4 huir3, but seeing as how the pronunciation for 会 in Putonghua is hui4 (except in 会计), dictionaries typically list the phrase as yi2 huir4.

In Putonghua, there is only one pronunciation for 比较 (=bi3 jiao4), however in Beijing when 比较 is used as an adverb it is pronounced bi3 jiao3 (e.g. 比较好), but as a noun (or a verb too, I think) it is bi3 jiao4 (e.g. 做个比较; 咱们来比较以下).

*Entering tone characters typically have multiple pronunciations in Beijing dialect, some of which differ from Putonghua (cf 教室 - 普:jiao4 shi4, 京:jiao4 shi3; 学 (as a verb) - 普: xue2, 京: xiao2).

I only recall hearing 因为 as the standard yin1 wei4 in Beijing myself, but Taiwanese always say yin1 wei2, which is strange considering that extrapolating from Minnan or Hakka pronunciation one would expect 为 to be wei4 - maybe wei2 is a KMT introduction.

I am a little surprised to learn that some people hear yin1 wei2 in Beijing given that a former Beijing colleague of mine used to constantly argue with a Taiwanese colleague over this pronunciation, often waving a dictionary in her face as "proof".

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but Taiwanese always say yin1 wei2

I'm going to have to disagree with you there, I've never heard yin1wei2 in Taiwan, and I've heard yin1wei4 about a thousand times. Not to insult anyone, but I wonder how reliable some of this information is on regional tones when so many chinese learners (including myself) don't have 100% perfect tonal recognition?

Edited by necroflux
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Seconded. Yīnwéi is very common, so common in fact that I remember my primary school teachers talking amongst themselves and using it back when I was little. I remember thinking at the time, what a strange way to say yīnwèi!

I also asked a Chinese friend about it last night and he said something along the lines that, Oh, they're different? No, they're the same, I think? I suppose to native speakers it's not really something you notice or think about.

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Imron, wow, that is a lucky coincidence haha, very nice. Do you know where the native speaker in that audio is from?

Interestingly I asked my Taiwanese GF about this and she also claimed that she had never heard yin1wei2 here on the island. She was just as surprised as I was to hear some people say it this way. So I'm guessing this is a mainland thing?

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