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Shelley

Tones over Characters

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Shelley
12 minutes ago, roddy said:

that's a different medical condition, nonnativespeakeritis

Hehe, yes maybe, but its the same problem I have when I sing. As a child it was suggest as a way to strengthen my lungs (asthma) I should learn to sing, 6 months of singing lessons later and a disastrous final concert, my mother and singing teacher said I would never have to sing in public again:oops:

At a school Christmas concert try outs, I was asked "you are good at English aren't you? Well you can be prompter", so I spent every concert in the prompters box at the front of the stage. Point is I really can't sing, and I know the consensus of opinion is it doesn't make a difference to learning chinese, but I think I am so bad at it that it does affect my ear so I don't know what I have heard and I can't tell what I have said.

But we persevere and I will just keep at it.

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roddy

My money says you have a psychological barrier there that's causing you more trouble than any physiological one. 

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Shelley

I had thought of that, which is why we plough on regardless, hoping to ignore it and be successful in mastering my tones eventually. I also wonder if, as a consequence of public embarrassment as a child, i am reluctant to open my mouth for fear of failing. But I hope I really don't let that get the way, I don't find actual public speaking (in English) a problem, as my friends say I am not backwards in coming forward. I am not shy nor do I fear new situations, sometimes to a fault, although in my declining years I have added a measure of thought before I leap.

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Flickserve
14 hours ago, Shelley said:

I also wonder if, as a consequence of public embarrassment as a child, i am reluctant to open my mouth for fear of failing

 

This!

 

I had the same issue.

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Shelley

I only have this fear when it comes to singing or speaking tones for the reasons I described above. I am quite happy to make speeches, introduce bands etc (in English) so its quite a selective issue.

Also once the ice has been broken and I am conversing in chinese most of my worries disappear, I guess once people realise I am learning chinese I know their expectations are lower. Ha in fact having typed it I realise that this is more than 50% of the problem, what I think people are expecting and what they might actually get worries me:shock:

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Michaelyus

Heritage speaker here: I do use tones above characters when preparing to read something publicly. Especially clusters of third tones. I also add other markings, like pauses and sentence stress, and most of all (as a speaker with southern Chinese roots) -h- and -ng vs -n where necessary.

 

I tend to put tone marks in nice round circles to separate them from the text.

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studychinese

I vote for tones above characters.

 

I can read just fine. The base pronunciation I know, it's remembering the tones that is hard (and I want tones above the characters to help in remembering the tones). The hacking Chinese guy makes the same point. 

 

http://www.hackingchinese.com/adding-tone-marks-wo-pinyin-above-characters-to-practise-tones/

 

I think that separating out the tone and base pronunciation is just the way the brain of a native English speaker is wired (for most people). Having tones above the characters means that acquisition of tones would be easier for people like me. 

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studychinese

An addendum: Its strange to see people write as if people that want tones above the characters don't want to learn the tones. It is precisely because they want to learn the tones that they want the tones above the character. Try associating a tone with a particular character when you are looking at pinyin instead of the character itself.

 

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imron
1 hour ago, studychinese said:

I think that separating out the tone and base pronunciation is just the way the brain of a native English speaker is wired

And that's exactly why you need to rewire it!

 

Otherwise you're just making the whole process difficult for yourself.

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studychinese
Just now, imron said:

And that's exactly why you need to rewire it!

 

Otherwise you're just making the whole process difficult for yourself.

 

Which is why having the tone over a character (instead of pinyin) will help through repeated spaced repetition.

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roddy

The point of SRS is that you get asked to *recall* the information at appropriate intervals. Not just look at it as it's presented to you.

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Tomsima

I agree with imron, learning to speak Chinese is a process that inherently requires rewiring your brain.

 

I admit sometimes seeing things from an English speakers perspective can help speed the learning process, but for me the biggest progress I ever made was when I switched from tones to the tone colour scheme (as used by pleco and other software). I suddenly felt like a green zhang was clearly nothing like a red zhang, and suddenly my brain started to group phonemes first according to tone group, then its pinyin. in the method where you first group by pinyin spelling, you will probably find you eventually end up with an uncountable list of zhang, yi, shi, etc. and it feels like an insurmountable task to 'assign' tones to each of them.

 

now i don't use colours, because I can just imagine it, or will mark a new character on a flashcard with my own system. what *has* been left seared in my brain are four tone 'buckets', and if I want to go get 張 and see if it's the same pinyin as 長, Im sure as not gonna gonna go to the same bucket to find them. only once I gave them taken out and write them down do I find they share the pronunciation idea of '長'.

 

that's me, everyone's different. but rewiring made massive difference for me, try colours if you like, you might be surprised

 

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Shelley

The fact that the tone is separate over the top of the character is what I am trying to avoid.

 

It is not a separate thing floating over the character, it is part of the sound. I have decided to try and ignore the tones over the character because I find it distracting.

 

I can understand it may useful to some people.

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Shelley

@Tomsima I like colours better than the distracting floating marks.

 

Might go and colour the marks, see if that helps, one problem is my eye keeps wanting to make it part of the character.

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roddy

To be honest, while I can see the attraction and potentially value of doing this, I think you're going to end up doing two things badly. Reading is one thing, learning pronunciation is another. Do them at different times, with your full attention. If your skills are so out of balance that you can read things you have no idea how to pronounce properly, it's time to do less of one and more of the other.

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889

I've often thought that calling these things tones is a big impediment to English speakers learning Chinese.  It brings to mind music and songs and Do-Re-Mi, and sets up a distinction between Chinese and English.

 

Much better I think would be to use a word like inflections that suggests not a distinction but a similarity. English speech is rife with inflections. It is? It is! Any native speaker knows how to inflect those two sentences properly, and shouldn't have any serious difficulty transferring that ability to inflect over to Chinese.

 

Unless that unfortunate word tone sends the native English speaker off down the wrong path.

 

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陳德聰

I don’t think we call that inflection. But there is a fundamental difference between intonation and tones (sentence-level vs word-level) and Chinese has both of those things, so to unnecessarily conflate them because you perceive the word “tone” as creating a mental block is probably at best going to be unhelpful.

 

I love that Roddy pointed out tones over characters are for learning the pronunciation, not for reading.

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889

To avoid that oh-you're-just-mixing-up-sentence-and-word-inflection reaction, I chose about as short a sentence as possible. But to confirm, say just is? and is! from those two sentences. Well? (That's an expectant Well? not an impatient Well? by the way.)

 

It's time Shelley realizes that rather like Monsieur Jourdain, he's been speaking in tones all his life.

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Shelley

I don't think it matters what you call them,  what you need to do is not separate them from pronunciation.

But sticking with the word tone is probably sensible.

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hoshinoumi
On 17/07/2017 at 7:52 AM, imron said:

You need to drill tones until the different tones are as distinct to your ears and in your mind as 'a', 'e', 'i' 'o' and 'u' are.  Then when you remember the pronunciation of a character, you can use the pinyin to generate the complete sound and then remember that entire 'sound+tone as an inseparable unit'.  When you need to know the tone you can then just recall the sound and compare it against the different tones.

 

This is how native Chinese people will figure out the tone.  If you ask them what tone is "马“ they will say '马' and then 'mā má mǎ mà' to see which one matches the sound of '马' and then tell you that as the answer.

I wish we were told that when we were just starting to learn Chinese! This is one of the best pieces of advice regarding tones I've ever read.

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