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Lip shape and tongue position for pronunciation?


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As far as I know it was about efficiency when typing.

They didn't want a big mass of diacritis when they created pinyin.

In my native German, we have the 去 and 云 "u" too and represent it with diacritis (the ü-dots). And for the long vowel like in 书 we usually write "uh".

But in Chinese, u after q and y you always pronounce ü/y so you can save the hassle and use one letter for the all of them.

When you look at other systems to romanize Chinese, you will find they are more true to the sound, but at the same time, you need to type more. Hanyu Pinyin isn't too true to the sound (but at least it's systematic), but it's fast and easy to write.

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In a certain dialect of British English (I'm struggling to think of which particular region, and I'm not very knowledgeable on where dialects come from) the "oo" in "book" and "moon" are pronounced the same. However, this is rather non-standard

Scottish English is the most famous example of the FOOT-GOOSE merger, although many Northern Irish varieties also exhibit this (as well as Singaporean and Malaysian English).

I have a feeling that the /u:/ phoneme in modern southern England English (from RP to Estuary) is being fronted, moving away from cardinal as in Mandarin and most of the Romance languages towards [ʉ] of e.g. Swedish and Scottish English. Note that this sound can often be interpreted as being "between" /u/ and /y/ in languages that have both phonemes (noticeably, French, German and Mandarin).

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[edit] hah I guess it's either just regional to my area or I've just got a weird way of remembering things and adjusting myself to make different sounds that doesn't directly correlate to the way others do. Nevermind

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"a" is like doing a bad British accent, saying "Car" without the "r" rounding at the end.

卡 is definitely not like standard RP pronunciation of "car", the mouth should be wider open for the pinyin "a". Maybe if you pronounce it a bit like "car" with a scouse accent (I know you specified "bad", but that doesn't really explain anything about how the sound is actually pronounced).

"ü" you exaggeratedly pull your chin back towards your neck, "u" you push your chin and tongue forward

Nope. No need to move your chin at all, and the tongue should be further forward for "ü" than for "u".

"en" you put your tongue forward, "eng" you put your tongue back.

Fair enough, but I'd phrase it in terms of point of articulation (finals ending in -ng are articulated further back than finals ending in -n). I actually tried an informal experiment on this by articulating -ng syllables further forwards and -n syllables further back, and then asking my girlfriend how she perceived the sound. Turns out that the point of articulation actually seems to matter a lot more than the final consonant.

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. Turns out that the point of articulation actually seems to matter a lot more than the final consonant.

Interesting... but what do you mean by point of articulation? english is not my native word but i think that if you could elaborate a bit more maybe i could understand...

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Edit: I think my terminology's off, I guess "place of articulation" is normally used for consonants. Maybe I'm off about the whole thing, I have no formal linguistics training.

I think what I'm getting at is that, at least 'round my neck of the woods, -ing is [iə̯ŋ], whereas -in is [in]. As for -en and -eng, looks like they're [ən] and [ɤŋ] respectively (here I'm relying heavily on Wikipedia). Any rate, if you pronounce -ing as [iŋ] and -in as [iə̯n], -eng as ŋ] and -en as [ɤn] etc., it seems that the vowel is more important than the final consonant in terms of perception.

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  • 4 weeks later...


I downloaded Standard Mandarin and I find it very useful. It has a animation showing the correct mouth position for each sound. It also lets you hear each sound in every tone. A few weeks ago I showed it to my Chinese tutor and she liked it. Also, teaching Chinese is her major at school so I think her endorsement as an extra + for the software.

If you go to the website you can download a sample so you can take a peak beofre you buy it. I was hesitent to buy the software because I couldn't find any reviews online, but I sent them an email with some questions and I got a quick reply. The man that made the program seems very nice.

The only downside I can say about the software is the price. $39.95. BUT....If you get your use out of it and it helps you with you Chinese then I have to say its worth it. I am a bit of a cheapskate myself, but I think if it comes to education or health then its worth spending the money. Even if you feel you have wasted money at least you wasted it trying to do something positive for yourself and not just more beer at the bar. (Nothing against beer at the bar)

Just to give you a little background, I have been studying Chinese for a long time now, and my reading and writing have come a long way. Now I am struggling to make my pronunciation decent. I found it frustrating listening to people trying to tell me where to put my tounge and what shape to make. The animations in the software make it easier.

Good Luck

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