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Pronouncing 人


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Maybe the the aversion to 'ri' = voiced 'shi' is because 1) 'ri' sounds so different from the normal 'shi' that it's counter-intuitive to link them and 2) some people are looking at the 'r' in general rather than just in 'ri'.

The Southerners' z-as-in-zoo doesn't sound quite right for me, I think the middle of the tongue needs to be flattened & widened a bit more?

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But even in other syllable pairs like ren/shen, rang/shang, rao/shao, re/she and so on, it's still simply a matter of voiced/voiceless - the tongue shape and position is the same for both initials (that is assuming, of course, that we're talking about 'r' being pronounced as [ ʐ ] and not [ ɻ ]). Zoo was probably not a good example, since the high back rounded vowel after [z] in this particular case causes anticipatory lip rounding and, to a certain degree, a pulling back of the tongue, which is very different from the tongue position in pronouncing pinyin zi, ci, and si. The tongue position in English 'zeal' is a closer approximation. Of course, the exact pronunciation varies, but I've heard quite a number of speakers of southern Mandarin say, excuse the vulgarity, '我日你妈哟' and it was most definitely a [z] sound as in English zoo, zeal, zebra, etc.

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I personally treat it as [ʐ] with some 'r' qualities or maybe an [ɻ] sound heavily influence by [ʐ], it's confusing! :shock: Neither of the following sounds particularly 肉 to me, although ʐoʊ̯ is quite close:

But yeah, syllabic 'r' should be enough if producing [ʐ] is problematic.

One interesting thing I noticed about words like 日 is that many natives pronounce it more like 'ir4' rather than 'ri4', especially in 日本. This phenomenon never occurs outside of r-i pair though, I guess it is Chinese equivalent of English words like 'iron' which is pronounced like 'I earn' [aɪərn] rather than 'I run' [aɪrən]. Another example would be ‘environment’, which follows the same rule.

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but I've heard quite a number of speakers of southern Mandarin say, excuse the vulgarity, '我日你妈哟' and it was most definitely a [z] sound as in English zoo, zeal, zebra, etc.
While I think you're right about this, I'm not sure if this Southern pronunciation is what a foreign learner should want to aim for. I've heard r- pronounced as y- and l- by native speakers from various places north and south, and I'm sure they never had any trouble being understood, but it's not really standard and I think it's better to first learn the most correct way.
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the initial 'r' is voiced and belongs to the zh, ch, sh series.

As mentioned above, I completely agree with this. I'm curious about whether most beginners books make this clear, and about whether it's obvious to most native speakers (the same way that it's not immediately obvious to a typical native speaker of English that the English "th" gets pronounced in two different ways)?

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