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tooironic

The hardest tone in Chinese

Which (Mandarin) tone do you find the hardest to pronounce?  

25 members have voted

  1. 1. Which (Mandarin) tone do you find the hardest to pronounce?

    • 1st tone
      7
    • 2nd tone
      32
    • 3rd tone
      24
    • 4th tone
      12
    • All tones are equally hard
      4
    • Hard? Tones are easy!
      22


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Neil_H

My biggest problem is when you a third tone followed by a second or the other way round.

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atitarev

The hardest tones are not in Chinese Mandarin but in Vietnamese. The hardest tone would be "nặng" ("heavy"), which has a glottal stop in it, marked with a dot under the vowel (e.g. Hà Nội) - here is an example (the 2nd syllable):


Hà Nội in Vietnamese

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atitarev

OK, pancake, I got your point but you are going beyond linguistics. :wink: It was meant as an encouragement that we are not learning the hardest tonal language (in terms of tones, not other aspects).

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Caidanbi

I don't find any of the tones to be very hard. When I first started learning I thought they would be, but then when I tried it out, I found they weren't really a problem. I think the tones in Cantonese are a bit more difficult, there are so many, I'm always afraid of accidentally saying something wrong! But in Mandarin I think they are easy ^-^

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renzhe

Easy in isolation, or in complete sentences?

I do think that they are easy to repeat with a single character, and relatively easy for a two-character word. It gets progressively more difficult from there.

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Hofmann

Music isn't harder on a piano with 97 keys than it is on one with 88 keys. More tones only means there's more of a selection, and therefore more chances to screw up. It shouldn't matter to someone who gets it right anyway.

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Shi Tong

I was lucky to find pretty much all the tones easy.

Dont know why?:conf

One thing I have noticed is that, (maybe) especially in Taiwan, 3rd tone is so rarely said like a skateboard ramp that I never ever bother with it. Nobody has ever picked it up, and nobody has ever said "hey, start speaking your third properly" to me. Until I recorded a section on here and posted it up, at which point a lot of people pointed it out.

This leads me to believe that any native speaker would simply not bother, UNLESS they were trying to describe third tone, in which case the scateboard would come out.:wink:

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Brian US

When I first came to China I found having several first tones in a row the most challenging. Once I improved upon that flaw, I had more people correcting my second tone. I now see where the majority fall into line.

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creamyhorror

I wasn't even aware the third tone was meant to be "down-up". I always wondered why its mark was drawn as such, but I've always been taught to pronounce it as a pure low tone. I don't pronounce it differently except in doubles or triples. Hearing the "down-up" pronunciation in a few basic guides was weird, because it sounds nothing at all like daily speech.

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Shi Tong

creamyhorror, I think this is MOST people's experience, IMO, I've never really adhered to the skateboard ramp 3rd tone, unless I'm trying to carefully explain 3rd tone to someone.. you'll find that in Chinese teaching too- the teacher will give you the scateboard, and then when you're chatting, the scateboard will be shelved in favour of a pure low tone.:conf

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renzhe

It hasn't been my experience, to be honest.

It's not always pronounced in the canonical way (tone sandhi, middle of the word, etc.), but there are times where it is, especially when stressed. I hear it all the time.

I'll listen to it very closely for the next few days. I might find some examples.

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Shi Tong

Do you think this is a Taiwan/ China devide in tonal difference renzhe? Seems like most Taiwanese revert to the flat low once in normal conversation. If they're stressing the sound *trying to pronounce 3rd tone* then that's when I hear the skateboard ramp.

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Brian US

Does anyone else move their head when focusing on a tone? For instance, I'll physically tilt my head back when practicing the second tone. It's just as silly as watching my little cousin twist his body in a sharp turn playing Mario Kart, but it seems to help with the jaw movement.

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chrix

FWIW, I've been told by Taiwanese people my third tone needs to go up more at the end...

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Shi Tong
FWIW, I've been told by Taiwanese people my third tone needs to go up more at the end...

hehe:lol:

I was just listening to my wife making a call to Taiwan, and noting that her third tones are very low and have no rise.

I think it's just an official thing-- it SHOULD be like that (going up at the ends), but a lot of people dont do it (in Taiwan), even though they probably SHOULD do.. if you see what I mean.

My wife's Mandarin is pretty brilliant as well, she certainly doesn't have any mashing of incorrect sounds, or daiwan goyu, that's for sure but her 3rd is definately flat and low.

Oh well.. I think if we all want to sound amazing at Mandarin, you probably do have to raise it at the end a little.. but I just sound like an uneducated local!:lol:

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chrix

It also depends on the position of the third tone within the word and whether the word is stressed or not. Listening in on your wife making a phone call is a bit too little for such a blanket statement (also if you did record her call look at the graph of her fundamental frequency whether or not there is a small less perceptible increase towards the end).

I don't have the time for digging this up right now, but there should be tons of research on the tones of Taiwan Mandarin, and I doubt that it'll say the third tone is just flat.

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roddy

And if it's going to go up (and it does so a lot less often than textbooks might have you believe) it needs to go up to its full value.

Incidentally, your wife is welcome to just register her own account, Shi Tong, should save you a lot of typing :lol:.

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daofeishi
But what throws me up is when I'm reading aloud or in a conversation when I'm trying to get my tones all right and not thinking ahead, I'll say a third tone and then the next word is a third tone.

I struggled a lot with this in the beginning, but with the right sort of rephrasing and some confidence and 'oomph' behind your pronunciation, you'll be able to pull it off without anybody realizing that something went wrong. “我觉得那部电影很(3)-嗯-很(2)好看---”

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renzhe

I notice that Taiwanese Hokkien does not have a falling rising tone. If some people never pronounce the rising part, it could be an interference.

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