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Pronouncing 人


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I've mentioned before that I have trouble hearing some of the sounds that native speakers are saying.

人 is a word that is giving me some trouble. Sometimes it sounds like it is being pronounced with a J sound like Jen, a common girl's name in America. Other times is sounds more like it starts with an R sound.

I know the pinyin is written with an r, but it sounds so much like a J to me that I've been pronouncing it that way. What do you think it sounds like?

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It will depend, according to which native speaker is saying it and what is next to it in the sentence.

Sometimes it sounds like it is being pronounced with a J sound like Jen, a common girl's name in America. Other times is sounds more like it starts with an R sound.

Often it's something between the two sounds you mentioned.

Don't spend too much time worrying about it. It's a common word and its meaning will be clear from context.

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There is one potential for error, when you equate the Chinese "r" to English/American "j" like in "Jen", I think, and that is: "J" has got a hint of a "d" in the beginning [djen] which the Chinese "r" never has.

WhatI ever equation you use, I think it's fair to say that in Chinese, there are variations in pronunciation, and they are ok. Sometimes it sounds more like "r", sometimes more like "j" (the French j like in "je") and both is correct.

For producing the sound myself, I still dread saying the word 日 rì (sun). Fortunately you don't speak it out so often :P

淨土極樂's suggestion is interesting and helpful. Looking at it from a linguistic point is often helpful, I think, because the written form of a letter and what we think how it should be produced can be misleading.

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The 'r' in 'ren' is pronounced somewhat similar to the 's' in 'measure'. Try it.

Please, no.

Using the pinyin 'r' sound is is how many Chinese people are taught to pronounce that 's' sound in English.

If you've ever heard and been mystified by a Chinese person saying they 'urually' do something, you'll know why this is a bad idea. The problem with these sounds is that in isolation they might be close, but when you are combining them with other sounds to form a word, they influence the surrounding sounds in different ways and end up sounding confusing and wrong.

This sound is one of the big pronunciation problems I found Chinese learners of English had the most difficultly correcting if they'd learnt it the wrong way using pinyin 'r' (much better to use English 'sh'). Don't go down the reverse of that path!

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