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媳 sells 稀 shells by the 西 shore


jkhsu
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I think [ʂ] is closer than [ɕ] to the English [ʃ]. Furthermore, 夏 has a [j] in there which further deviates from how "sha" would be pronounced in English

I'm not really understanding this (sorry I don't understand the tone symbols). I don't agree that the "sh" sound in English is closer to "sh" in pinyin for standard Mandarin than "x" in pinyin. For example, the word 心 (pinyin: xin) is closer sounding to the word "shin" as your leg bone than "sh" in pinyin. Unfortunately, there's no example Chinese word with pinyin "shin". Would like to get other's opinions on this as well.

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I'm not really understanding this (sorry I don't understand the tone symbols). I don't agree that the "sh" sound in English is closer to "sh" in pinyin for standard Mandarin than "x" in pinyin. For example, the word 心 (pinyin: xin) is closer sounding to the word "shin" as your leg bone than "sh" in pinyin. Unfortunately, there's no example Chinese word with pinyin "shin". Would like to get other's opinions on this as well.

I don't know about (really) standard Mandarin, but pinyin xin pronunciation varies a bit. The version I'm used to sounds more like English 'sin' than 'shin'. (More precisely, it's 'syin'.) Example from googling:

http://www.ctcfl.ox.ac.uk/Sound%20files/xin1.wav. The xins from nciku don't sound like 'shin' either (try the auto-reading of the example sentences for clearer audio).

Sometimes I hear people (both mainlander and Taiwanese) with a 'shin' pronunciation for xin, but I assumed that was local/nonstandard.

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The version I'm used to sounds more like English 'sin' than 'shin'. (More precisely, it's 'syin'.)

The example link you gave sounds more like "shyn" than "syin". A better example is comparing the sound of 西 (pinyin: xi1) with the English the word "she" as in "she is a girl". They are pretty close. On the contrary, try comparing the sound of "湿" (pinyin: shi1) and with any English word that starts with "shi" such as "shin", "ship", "shilling" and they sound totally different.

Sometimes I hear people (both mainlander and Taiwanese) with a 'shin' pronunciation for xin, but I assumed that was local/nonstandard.

The sound of the English word "shin" is very close to the pronounciation of "心" (pinyin: xin) from, I should say, a Beijing or northern accent. One of the biggest issues with Mandarin pronounciation is that people from southern China (Hong Kong, Guandong and Taiwan included, etc.) pronounce the "sh", "ch", "zh" like "s", "c", "z". This is true also with many native older generation Shanghainese as well. In the "Beijing" pronounciation of "sh", the tip of your tongue should be touching the roof of your mouth. In the English pronounciation of "sh", your tougue is definitely not touching the roof of your mouth. These sounds are totally different. Now, if you have a Southern Chinese accent and prounounce "sh" like "si", then it is somewhat closer to the English "sh". That's probably where the confusion comes in.

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Since when has the pinyin x been closer to English sh than pinyin sh? My Chinese pronunciation may not be 100% accurate, but the sh in sha (沙) sounds very much like an English sh to me. x, on the other hand, is quite far from it.

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Since when has the pinyin x been closer to English sh than pinyin sh?

I'm reposting what I just said:

A better example is comparing the sound of 西 (pinyin: xi1) with the English the word "she" as in "she is a girl". They are pretty close. On the contrary, try comparing the sound of "湿" (pinyin: shi1) and with any English word that starts with "shi" such as "shin", "ship", "shilling" and they sound totally different.

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A better example is comparing the sound of 西 (pinyin: xi1) with the English the word "she" as in "she is a girl". They are pretty close.

I don't agree at all. But I am not a native speaker of Mandarin or English. Maybe I have mis-pronounced these words all my life, which would be quite sad.

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A better example is comparing the sound of 西 (pinyin: xi1) with the English the word "she" as in "she is a girl". They are pretty close. On the contrary, try comparing the sound of "湿" (pinyin: shi1) and with any English word that starts with "shi" such as "shin", "ship", "shilling" and they sound totally different.

The main reason for the difference in this example is not the initial, but rather the final. In pinyin, the 'i' sound that follows 'sh' is very different from the 'i' sound that follows 'x', and so the pinyin 'shi' will sound nothing like the english 'shi' in words like ship, shin etc. In those words the 'i' is much closer to the 'i' sound that typically follows 'x' in pinyin.

If you are comparing syllables however then I would agree with anonymoose and skylee that pinyin 'xi' and English 'she' are not that close. It might be closer than other pinyin sounds like 'shi', but it's still quite different.

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sounds very much like an English sh to me

I think it's this way:

Pinyin and English s<Pinyin x<English sh<Pinyin sh

How close or far these sounds are depends on being from the south or the north. People from the south who speak standard Mandarin have a less stronger "sh" than people in the north.

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I think we're all going to have to agree to disagree on this Mandarin pinyin "xi" sounding like the English "she" thing. As rezaf mentioned, it could be a difference in how people from the south and north speak Mandarin or even how people from various English speaking countries pronounce "she".

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Actually I think it's pointless to discuss Mandarin sounds in terms of English. It's much better just to point out actual pronunciation. See here for a nice table of pinyin syllables. To the OP, if you want to know what xiang sounds like, you can listen to it

here.

For reference, here is

xi. In my opinion it is quite different from how an English speaker would pronounce 'she'. To believe otherwise is only going to lead to having a clearly foreign accent when speaking Mandarin.

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For reference, here is

xi. In my opinion it is quite different from how an English speaker would pronounce 'she'.

imron, you're from Australia right? The link you sent sounds pretty damn close to how someone in the USA would pronounce "she" in English.

I am afraid this discussion is turning into a traditional vs. simplified, china vs. taiwan, debate. There's no end!

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The link you sent sounds pretty damn close to how someone in the USA would pronounce "she" in English.

I think it's a problem of how we define close. You could also argue that it sounds close to 'see'.

A good example I think is that Chinese people are often told that the 's' sound in 'usually' is pronounced like the pinyin 'r'. Which it kind of does in isolation, but actually it's a completely different sound, and so unfortunately you get a situation where you'll quite often hear Chinese people pronounce 'usually' as 'urually' (they'd actually be far better off pronouncing it as 'ushually'). Same thing goes here. I will accept that 'xi' and 'she' are close if people don't care about having an obviously foreign accent.

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Ok, I can see this discussion going nowhere. Let me try to say some things that we can all agree on here:

1. I think the best advice for Mandarin learners, without throwing anyone off, is to listen to native Mandarin speakers and say "xi" as how it should be said in Mandarin without any comparisons to other languages.

2. If one thinks that a particular Mandarin character somehow sounds like a word they know in another language, that's fine as well. However, they should make sure that are in fact saying the character correctly by listening to themselves, asking native Mandarin speakers to correct them, etc. They should not try to tell others that the character sounds like another word they know in another language because sometimes differences in sound are perceived differently by different people.

Based on point #2, I will gladly take back my statement because as imron said, the last thing I want to do is throw off or confuse learners.

@Hofmann, I'll glady change my statement to:

"The link you sent sounds pretty damn close to how I would pronounce "she" in English and I'm from the USA.

After I posted that statement, I sort of guessed that people might respond and say, hey, I'm from the USA too and I don't think so. Rather than try to prove that one of us has been pronouncing "she" wrong our entire lives, let's just agree that imron's link to the native Mandarin speaker pronouncing "xi" is right. Is that cool?

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I'm always a bit perplexed when I hear or read foreigners (mostly Americans) render xi as 'shee'. At first I thought they just couldn't pronounce it correctly, but then I concluded that they may have been approximating a particular accent. Even books/guides do this sometimes!

My personal understanding is that standard xi is closer to 'syee' than 'shee'. Pinyin sha is pretty much English 'shah', so it works better than xia for Shanny's name.

And imron's link to the recording of xi doesn't sound entirely like English 'she' to me either. The 'h' sound isn't fully there.

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My personal understanding is that standard xi is closer to 'syee' than 'shee'. Pinyin sha is pretty much English 'shah', so it works better than xia for Shanny's name.

I'm going to have to disagree with you here. The standard Mandarin prounciation for "sha" or 沙 does not sound like how I would pronounce "shah". Again, going back to my post, I really think this is more of a northern vs southern Chinese accent thing.

By the way, I did ask a native Mandarin speaker from Shanghai about this and they actually agreed with me that the "sh" sound in Mandarin does not sound like the "sh" sound in English and that I was right. She also said that when they learned the English word "she" in China, they used 西 as an example.

Again, I'm going to say this again, this debate will never end. We can just agree that imron's link is right.

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When I was learning english, by english teacher said "sh" in English just sounds between "X" and "sh" in chinese. It is also hard for me to tell which one is closer. And I basically agree with JKHSU. We don't need to waste time on debating which one is closer. All we need to do is to listen to native speaker and konw the correct pronunciation.

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I'm going to have to disagree with you here. The standard Mandarin prounciation for "sha" or 沙 does not sound like how I would pronounce "shah".

That's strange. I think most English speakers here would agree with me that the 'sh's in both are very similar (anonymoose has, at least, and imron said sha is closer than xi is). I'll post samples when I get home, then we can get this cleared up.

Again, going back to my post, I really think this is more of a northern vs southern Chinese accent thing.

Probably. I'm interested in finding out what the standard apparently is, though.

By the way, I did ask a native Mandarin speaker from Shanghai about this and they actually agreed with me that the "sh" sound in Mandarin does not sound like the "sh" sound in English and that I was right. She also said that when they learned the English word "she" in China, they used 西 as an example.

Could be incorrect teaching. 西 is the closest you get to English 'she' because there's no 'shee' in pinyin. Also, what if that Shanghai person's understanding of English 'sh' is inaccurate?

The 'sh' in 'shah' most definitely resembles the 'sh' in 沙 in most varieties of English I've heard.

Again, I'm going to say this again, this debate will never end. We can just agree that imron's link is right.

It can be resolved once we have clearer recordings of Northern/Southern pinyin sha and xi and English 'sha; and 'she', and native speakers on both sides give their opinions. I have time to spend myself :)

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