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When does 一 change tone?


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I think 白話文 does generally refer to early post-May 4th vernacular Chinese (魯迅 et al). I'm not sure why in English it's generally used to refer to all non-文言文 Chinese ("Vernacular Chinese" yes, but "baihua" no), when that doesn't seem to match with how it's used in Chinese.

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白话is written language of Putonghua, and it is contrast with 文言. It was based on northern oral Chinese from Tang and Song Dynasty. 白话 was used in 变文【a popular form of narrative literature flourishing in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), with alternate prose and rhymed parts for recitation and singing (often on Buddhistic themes)】话本【script for story-telling (in Song and Yuan folk literature) 】and Ming Qing fictions. After May 4th Movement, 白话took place of 文言 and became a written language normally used. The essays written in 白话,called 白话文.

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think that using or not using a classifier in front of a noun makes no difference as to whether tone sandhi applies, so “一位女子” is yí wèi nǚzǐ, whilst “一女子” would be yì nǚzǐ.


What I mean is that it seems to me that by the rules of where 一's tone sandhi does and doesn't apply, it ends up being that 一 only changes tone before a power of ten in a compound number or in a situation where a classifier would grammatically be required to follow. I don't mean that the classifier triggers the tone sandhi, just that 一 changes tone when it is quantifying something, and it changes tone when, grammatically speaking, a classifier should go before it. 一女子 doesn't have a classifier, but based on the standard grammatical rules of Mandarin, it should.


What I'm wondering is if 一 changes tone in any other situation. I suppose my a) should have been "when it is quantifying something".

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@Demonic_Duck 一女子I think the tone for 一here should be first tone,  it represents a specific amount or number. 一here is a separate word from 女子,when you read it, you should say 一minor pause 女子。 一位女子is different, 一is connected with 位, so 一is second tone 

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@Skyelar  the following rules for 一changing tone still apply, no exception

"一" does not change tone:

  • When it is said in isolation. ("一" one)
  • When it is located at the end of a phrase, as in:
    • 第一 (first)
    • 二十一 (twenty-one)
    • 始终如一 (idiom meaning "unswerving from start to finish")

  • When it represents a specific amount or number, as in:
    • 一二三 (one two three)
    • 一九八四 (1984)

  • When it represents an ordinal number or is part of an idiom, as in:
    • 一号 (1 as the first day of a month, as in "January 1")
    • 一五一十 (idiom meaning "describe in detail")
    • 一无所知 (idiom meaning "not knowing anything at all")

"一" changes tone:

  • To the second/rising tone before a fourth/falling-tone syllable, as in 一件事 (one matter).
  • To the fourth/falling tone before the following non-fourth/falling-tone syllables:
    • The first/level tone, as in 一封信 (one letter).
    • The second/rising tone, as in 一行人 (a group of people).
    • The third/dipping tone, as in 一小会儿 (a little while).

  • To the fifth/neutral tone between reduplicated words, as in:
    • 想一想 (think a little)
    • 听一听 (listen a little)
    • 等一等 (wait a little)

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What I mean is that all of the examples I've seen so far for the tone sandhi of 一 have either been before a classifier (or before where a classifier should go), before a power of ten in a compound number, or between reduplicated words (I forgot to mention this one before). It seems to me that the rules given for when 一 doesn't change tone cover everything else. I'm wondering whether I'm right or wrong; does 一 ever change tone when it's not in one of those three situations?

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I gave some examples before, but I mean as in 一百 or 两千九百一十五. In this case, if you don't know what I mean, I'm using "power" in the mathematical sense, where it means a number multiplied by itself a certain number of times. 34, read as "three to the power of four", is 3×3×3×3, which is 81. A power of ten is a number like 10, 100, 1000, etc. By "compound number", I mean a number written with multiple characters. If there's a better term for it, I haven't heard of it.

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  • 5 years later...

I still find the tone change of yī confusing, or rather when does it stay first tone?


My Chinese tutor told me it stayed as yī (first tone) virtually only in a number (e.g. telephone number).


I typically say 一个人 as yí gè rén, but somehow I have the impression when natives say it, it sounds different (?)


Now, I tried to research online and the learning resources are not consistent either: 



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7byDiIwoRHE (see 0:37) [Mandarin Blueprint]





http://ichinesematters.blogspot.com/2016/10/tone-changes.html (yí gè gēge)


And what about: xiànzài yī diǎn: does it stay 1st tone or become 4th tone? I seem to find both versions...

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