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chrix

Unexpected readings of phonetic components

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chrix

I wanted to start a thread to collect characters whose phonetic component deviates in some big way.

As we all know, many characters that share phonetic components (音符) are not proniunced the same. Often, it's just a difference in tone, sometimes a difference in voicedness (historically, now usually a difference in aspiration and affrication).

So please post your favourite examples here. Also, I'm interested in exploring the historical reasons for such deviations, so I'm not really looking for simplified characters, but if there's some character that's been especially vexing for you, post those too.

So let me go ahead with a couple of examples:

shèn, this surprised me as the phonetic component is usually jian, but the place of articulation is identical, so it's not a big deviation (like 廈, though this is even poyinzi, having both xià and shà)

jiànlán . This has been reconstruction as having a gl- cluster, so that could explain the l-j variation.

fēi: it's not that unexpected either, as there's 配 pèi, it might be that 己 itself is an exception.

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jbradfor

I'm glad I'm not the only one that notes this! I haven't really been keeping track, but it does take me aback when I run across one. Two that I see often:

The "肖" phonetic, in particular 削 (xuē) when it means "to reduce; to pare (away); to cut (down)". Compare this to 稍, 銷, 消, 削 (when it means "to scrape"), and 悄. All of these have the final "ao", with inititials of "sh", "x", "x", "x," and "qi". And, weirdly enough, are all first tone except for the last one, which has a quite different initial as well.

The other one the "僉" phonetic. Pretty much every one has the "ian" final (e.g. 檢. 儉, 劍, 签, 險), except for 驗. While it has the "an" final, which is pretty close, it's just different enough to throw me off.

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chrix

Oh yes, I should have included the cases where the finals differ, thanks! Yeah, I think in some cases it might be a matter of frequency, as I have the impression that certain high-frequency characters have simplified their finals, whereas some other less frequent characters with the same component still have retained it. One that comes to mind (though a poyinzi) is 度 du and duo, and so you get 踱 duò and 渡 dù. Another one could be 足 zú 捉 zhuō. I haven't had the time to check the historical data on these, so at this point my frequency hypothesis is just that.

As far as 驗 goes, it has a "ian" final as well, in pinyin it's just spelt "yan" when there is no consonant initial, though I agree that it is different from the rest. It could be some sound change, as j->y wouldn't be too strange. There's a number of similar things, like the retroflex-non retroflex sibilant alternations I mentioned already, and also g-w (危 跪) (this one you can see even in French, a German word cognate to English "war" was borrowed as "guerre" :mrgreen:) (EDIT: though 危 跪 have another exception: 脆 cuì)

Edited by chrix

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chrix

驗 is not in the Etymological Dictionary, so it's hard to say (I wonder if it is cognate with 研, but the final for that one is reconstruced as "en", while 僉 is usually -am).

There's also some with l, 臉 liǎn and 斂 liàn....

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jbradfor
As far as 驗 goes, it has a "ian" final as well, in pinyin it's just spelt "yan" when there is no consonant initial, though I agree that it is different from the rest.

Good point on that, maybe now I can remember it better :-) However, even though pinyin tables list it that way, at least to me yan sounds quite different than [pbm]ian; the latter does have more of a "e" sound.

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889

Quite a few characters always throw me, no matter how many times I've seen them, but I'll point to 冯, 肥, and 棘 in particular.

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chrix

I'm not so sure about the etymology of 馮 féng, but you can find it in 憑 píng, f-p is quite common, so 肥 would fall under this as well, f-b.

About 棘, I'm not sure if it's a 形聲字, but it's not that far from to (it might be similar to the jiàn shèn case above).

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chrix

some more:

號 hào 饕 tāo

堯 yáo 繞 rào 曉 xiǎo 撓 nǎo

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jbradfor

Humm.....

Why do you consider those unexpected? From what I've noticed, it seems very common for the tone to change, and pretty common for the initial to change. But all those examples have the same finals.

Are there some initials change that you find expected, and some you find unexpected? Previously you indicated that f->p and f->b are common, others? And is there something special about those that make them common, beyond that they occur more frequently?

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jbradfor

Words containing 舌:

話 hua4

活 huo2

舍 she4

銛 xian4

闊 kuo4

适 shi4

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chrix

Usually the place of articulation should be identical or similar. So b-p, or zh-ch-sh variations are easy, and also stuff like p-f and g-w are sound changes that are well documented in many languages around the world. There's no clearly drawn line (and I haven't looked at this in a systematic way for Chinese).

Though there's no clearly drawn line, variations such as g-l or t-h or y-r-x-n are already in the unexpected territory for me (I'd also include the 堯 ones because I find their variety bewildering in general).

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chrix

适 doesn't go with the other 舌's as it's 適. But that in turn has an interesting di-shi variation (here the place of articulation is still the same, so I'd call this a borderline case): 敵 適

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chrix

巫 wū 筮 shì, this looks like it's the semantic rebus principle at work, the same principle behind 月, 明 and 夕, which all used to be written with the same character.

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Hofmann

靜 (從 initial), 爭 (莊 initial).

腎 shèn, this surprised me as the phonetic component is usually jian, but the place of articulation is identical, so it's not a big deviation (like 廈, though this is even poyinzi, having both xià and shà)

The place of articulation of 腎 and 臤 in Middle Chinese is different. 腎 starts with [ʑ] and 臤 starts with...a lot of velar stuff. 廈 and 夏 are both 胡雅切, which 王力 says is [ɣa]上聲.

監 jiàn 藍 lán . This has been reconstruction as having a gl- cluster, so that could explain the l-j variation.

That reminds me of characters with 各, but you probably already noted them.

Edited by Hofmann

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chrix

Great examples so far! :clap

So just let me clarify: just post anything you find "unexpected" from your subjective perspective. I'd like to gather some examples first of what people find unexpected and then perhaps in a new thread, we could discuss if it would be useful to integrate this kind of thing into teaching and/or learning of Mandarin Chinese and if so, how.

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Hofmann

I just thought of 詳 and 祥. Homophonous, 似羊切 [zǐaŋ]. 羊 is 與章切 [jǐaŋ].

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jbradfor

Let's start with the 每 (mei3) phonetic.

First one up:

梅 mei2

-- so far, so good. But wait! Let's change both the initial and the final!

海 hai3

悔 hui3

There are others with the 每 phonetic, but less common, but they seem to be similar to above.

誨 hui4

晦 hui4

脢 mei2

痗 mei4

And then, out of left-field, comes

侮 wu3

[And for 毓 (yu4), is 每 the phonetic?]

Edited by jbradfor

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Hofmann
And for 毓 (yu4), is 每 the phonetic?

育 is.

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imron

吏 which I always want to read as shǐ but which is actually lì.

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