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somethingfunny

魅力汉语 ('The Charm of Chinese') MOOC

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Publius

Here is some discussion on 北大中文論壇 http://www.pkucn.com/viewthread.php?tid=11973

For someone who grew up in Beijing area it's only natural to realize w that way. And if you live/study/work in Beijing long enough you will probably pick it up too. It's the reality. But it's not part of the standards. And I very much doubt it will ever be.

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realmayo

I see, I was just surprised that the 联播新闻 newsreaders are allowed to use non-standard 普通话。

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somethingfunny

The fourth part was pretty good I thought.  I really liked the 冻手/动手, 开腔/开枪 story.

 

It was interesting at the end as well, where she seemed to be talking about the connection between a particular 方言's vocabulary and pronunciation.  In other words, if you say 老子明天不上班 in 普通话 it's not going to sound good, not because the vocabulary is unfamiliar, but because it doesn't match up with the accent.

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somethingfunny

I watched the last two parts of this last night.  Although they were interesting, it did feel a little bit like I was being indoctrinated.  That whole bit with the guy from Sudan was pretty ghastly, especially as they didn't even show him speaking any Chinese.

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Luxi
2 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

it did feel a little bit like I was being indoctrinated.

 

Agree with you there! The world flocking to learn Chinese, and her hammering on the potonghua vs. 方言 line. I felt it wasn't 100% time well spent compared to the previous videos.

Having had a preview of the first 3 sections in next week's videos, I can assure you that you may wish for a few 'indoctrination breaks'.

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somethingfunny

The material for week 2 is now available!

 

It looks like there is about 1hr15mins of video this week.

 

I hope you all took the quiz and did the homework for last week. 

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Luxi

I haven't done any of the assignments, has anyone here? I'm happy learning as a lurker, though I still have a few days to make up my mind, the delivery date for eek 1 is 4 April (actually 3 April for people on this side of the Gobi). If I was considering looking for a job in China, I'd probably go for a certificate of completion, as extra Kudos in a CV.

 

I read some of the discussions as reading practise and trying to become more acquainted with the writing style.

 

This week's videos (parts 3 and 4) have some good pronunciation exercises! A bit like cod liver oil, you know it's good for you...

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Publius
5 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

It looks like there is about 1hr15mins of video this week.

不止吧。。

21m21s

10m50s, 9m42s, 13m30s

12m53s, 11m19s, 18m03s

10m38s, 9m10s

12m08s, 7m35s

8m26s

------------

2h24m?

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somethingfunny

Woah, my bad, I didn't realise weeks 2-4 had more than one video.

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Publius

Watched them all. Learned something too. Had never heard of the /za/ variant of 啊. So basically 啊 is never 'a'...

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somethingfunny

I've watched the first two parts.  Bit of a biology lesson, and some more 方言 stuff.  Hasn't been quite as good as last week, but I'm not really that interested in this particular bit of material.  

 

There were a couple of things I didn't get.  When she was going through the pinyin endings, she put up "eung" (if I remember correctly), is this a correct ending?

 

She was also talking about aspirated sounds (饱 vs 跑) and seemed to suggest that English didn't have this (it was in the bit about different languages having particular characteristics), but I guess what she actually meant (or perhaps said, and I missed it) was that in English aspiration doesn't change the meaning of a sound.  But even this doesn't seem to be true - for example do vs to, differ only in one being aspirated and have different meanings.

 

Any thoughts?

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Luxi

I'm half way through part 5 now, but only glossed over parts 1 and 2.

 

I spent a lot of time on parts 3 and 4 (they're quite long) and enjoyed them a lot, especially when she went into the tones with their sandhis and other varoants  (I didn't know there was so much in the neutral tone). I actually learnt quite a bit, this fills several gaps in my Chinese education (rather unorthodox up to the A Level). I'll have to come back to these drills in the future, those exercises are good for me.

 

She has 'ueng' (edited: not 'eung' as I'd written first, sorry!) in a 鼻 韵母 table that comes up in the 1st video of part 3. I searched the web because I too was curious about it and discrepancies on the numbers of sounds, but ueng appears in some tables not in others. The number of 韵母s  seems to change depending where you look. Is 'ueng' the same as 'weng' - some table have both, some only have 'weng'.

 

I think the strong aspirated sound in putonghua is much stronger than anything in English, especially in northern Hanyu...but I missed what she was saying there, I just assumed that she was saying what I thought she was saying...:D

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somethingfunny

I'll be honest, part three was pretty tough going.  In fact, I'm struggling to even remember what she talked about - all I can remember is how boring it was.

 

Part four was interesting though.  I really liked the bit about the neutral tones, and the stuff about erhua was also quite interesting.

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Luxi
6 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

all I can remember is how boring it was.

 

:P... as I said, like cod liver oil...OTH it's a nicely compact review with exercises of all the sounds in Mandarin, pronounced clearly by someone with perfect diction. The sort of thing you need to get back to now and then when you live out of China, far from any-reasonable-where to practice, and want to keep your pronunciation finely tuned. And the poems she uses for practice are well chosen. The tones and sandi pronunciation are also well explained and with nice examples. I wish she'd read at least 1 poem using 古文 - but was happy to finally hear one 入声 syllable, it didn't disappoint!

 

I hope you'll find 4 and 5 more entertaining.  Part 6 was OK - but probably more interesting when seen in connection with poetry.

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Publius
2 hours ago, Luxi said:

Part 6 was OK - but probably more interesting when seen in connection with poetry.

I thought she was going to use 李清照's 《聲聲慢》:尋尋覓覓,冷冷清清,淒淒慘慘戚戚 to demonstrate the use of 連綿詞. But that's probably too much negative energy, hehe.

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somethingfunny

The tone sandhi stuff was good, although, like the neutral tone stuff, it kind of made me feel like I'm probably saying stuff wrong all the time.  

 

I didn't really fully understand the 3rd tone thing.  Obviously, if it's 3rd-3rd then it becomes 2nd-3rd, but what was the deal with the examples at the bottom of that slide?  I've come across the 3rd-2nd tone alteration before (and it haunts me in my sleep).  But the examples she gave were:

 

老师 

老实

老式

 

where in each case, the 老 is read with a 2-1 falling tone (these numbers are not tones, but marks on the 1->5 tone scale).  It kind of seemed like if a 3rd tone if the first of a two character word, then it is never pronounced with the 3rd tone.

 

Those strings of 3rd tones did my head in a bit - I reckon that's both literally and figuratively an academic problem and not really something you need to worry too much about.  While it's interesting stuff to know, I think I'll just rely on my accumulated experience (a bit like with neutral tones) and know when something sounds right and when it sounds wrong.

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Luxi
1 hour ago, somethingfunny said:

 

I didn't really fully understand the 3rd tone thing.

 

That makes 2 of us! Obviously a lot more in tones and their variations than I was ever taught, and since much of it comes down from ancient Chinese, the chances of ever understanding the 'whys' are rather slim. She did explain an unexpected tone in one of the previous videos as coming from the use in 古文, but I couldn't find the place again. Did you understand the correspondence between tones in 古文 and 现代? Weird!

 

I loved the 1-5 'scale', I never paid any attention to high v. low pitch associated to tones, but now I can hear it quite distinctly in Chinese speakers on TV, a kind of sing-song. Definitely a musical language, she convinced me.

 

The serial 3rd tones left my brain semi-comatose. If I'm pushed to explain, I'd say the reasons are somewhere along 5000 years of history. Don't ask, just listen well and repeat. 

 

And how about the 4 度 in the 4 neutral 子 :mrgreen: ? Did you hear any difference between them? I played that part of the video at least half a dozen times and still cannot hear anything systematically different between those zi. I'm going to try recording it in Audacity to see what it shows.

 

@Publius those verses are superbly dismal, thanks for the quote.

 

 

 

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Publius

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Chinese_phonology is a good place to start if you want to dig deeper into these things :)

 

For example the relationship between Middle Chinese and Modern Mandarin tones. I don't know if you have noticed, the 1st and 2nd tones in Mandarin are not evenly distributed across different initials. There are many syllables with the sound ping2 平瓶憑屏評, but only a handful of ping1 乒; on the other hand, we have bing1 兵冰 but no bing2 at all. If we compare the above table with Middle Chinese 三十六母 we'll have a clue why.

The 三十六母 start with

幫 p, 滂 pʰ, 並 b, 明 m

端 t, 透 tʰ, 定 d, 泥 n...

They are called 全清 (unvoiced, unaspirated, like English p/t/k after s 'spy'), 次清 (unvoiced, aspirated, like English 'pie'), 全濁 (voiced, like 'bye'), 次濁 (nasal/sonorant, like 'my'). In other words, there once was a three-way distinction for stops.

And then 全濁/次濁 became 陽平 (Yang means heavier, all Cantonese 陽調 are at the bottom half of the 1-5 scale, 清者上升濁者下降嘛) and 全清/半清 became 陰平 which is lighter and at the top. So Middle /b/+平聲 -> Modern /pʰ/+陽平 (ping2), Middle /m/+平聲 -> Modern /m/+陽平 (we don't have ming1), Middle /p, pʰ/+平聲 -> Modern /p/+陰平 (bing1).

This process called 調分陰陽 is said to be a compensation for the loss of voiced initial consonants.

Furthermore, some theories suggest that the tones in the Sino-Tibetan languages arose from the need to keep syllables distinctive after the loss of consonant clusters, and prehistoric Chinese might be entirely toneless. (CCVCC allows for many combinations, CVC dramatically reduces the possibilities, so adding another factor T becomes necessary.)

 

The Wikipedia article also gives a more technical description of 3rd tone sandhi (has a lot to do with word boundaries) and neutral tone realization. In my opinion they are more phonetics than phonology. English speakers don't consider the [p] in 'spy' a different sound than the [pʰ] in 'pie'. They are allophones, i.e. environmental variants of the same phoneme /p/ with a complementary distribution that doesn't affect the meaning. The same can be said of the Chinese neutral tones. They are all the same tone to Mandarin speakers. Many won't even notice they actually have different pitch values. (If you really want to see the differences, try Praat.)

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Publius

And about 入聲. They are syllables ending in -p, -t, -k, but they are not released (只有成阻、持阻,沒有除阻), much like the first t in 'cat tail', you know there's a sound, but you can't hear it. 入聲 is not defined by pitch but by its short, clipped way of pronunciation.

You won't have a clear idea which character is 入聲 until you start to speak a language that retains the final consonants p, t, k of Middle Chinese, for example, Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese. (Btw, do you know why there's a double k in Hakka and Hokkien? That's because in 客家 and 福建, 客 and 福 end in -k while 家 and 建 begin with k-)

The name 入聲 itself is from the character 入. The reconstructed Middle Chinese pronunciation is approximately /ȵip/. In Cantonese it's jap6, in Hakka ngip8, in Japanese nyū (origianlly nipu->niɸu->niu->nyū).

In the video the teacher explained 白 is 入聲, so 白鷺 (仄仄) contrasts perfectly with 黃鸝 (平平). The Middle Chinese sound for 白 is /bɐk/. It's baak6 (陽入) in Cantonese, and haku in Japanese (Tang dynasty reading where voiced consonants were already disappearing, paku->ɸaku->haku; an earlier reading from Northern and Southern dynasties gives byaku).

白 had a voiced initial b in Middle Chinese, so according to the Wikipedia table, it should be 陽平 in Mandarin. And indeed it used to be read bo2 (the same as 薄, also a 入聲字). The poet 李白 is also known as Li Bo in English.

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Luxi

 

7 hours ago, Publius said:

 

Thanks for the great explanations and those amazing links. I had never seen them before, it's like finding Xanadu...Incredible! 

 

7 hours ago, Publius said:

English speakers don't consider the [p] in 'spy' a different sound than the [pʰ] in 'pie'.

 

Now that you mention it, yes, indeed, the 'p' in 'spy' is different from the 'p' in 'pie'. The lower lip moves forward to pronounce 'spy'. It's retracted in 'pie', even more in 'empire', it's more difficult to say 'spy' with the lips in that position and it sounds rather strange. 

 

 

 

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