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jf94

Name question

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jf94

What English names are the most difficult to pronounce for native Chinese speakers?

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陳德聰

I suspect names like Prunella and Fitz-Lloyd might be a challenge.

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Publius

Umm, McDonald?

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roddy

Rumplestiltskin. Not joking, look at those consonant clusters. 

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Lu

That's not an English name though, it's German.

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Zbigniew

And Prunella is Latin, Fitz Norman, Lloyd Welsh, and McDonald Scottish.

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陳德聰

Haha I swiped those names off a list of "68 Fantastic British Names," should've known better.

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889

Where does our hypothetical Chinese person hail from? Some speakers, from the South particularly, would find a name like Cheryl challenging.

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mungouk

If you want a detailed answer about problems Chinese speakers have with English, see:

 

Chang, J. "Chinese Speakers", in Swan, M. & Smith, B. (2001) Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and other Problems (2nd ed). Cambridge University Press. pp310-324.

 

A copy of pages 311-312, which deal specifically with pronunciation of vowels, consonants, and consonant clusters, is attached.  Hope this is OK with the mods, as fair use.

 

Swan Smith pp311-312.pdf 

 

If you need a bit of help with reading IPA, then the British Council's free Sounds Right app might be useful.

 

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Jim

Jim doesn't come easy to most people, they want to make it two syllables because of the final consonant. 

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Tomsima
2 hours ago, Jim said:

they want to make it two syllables

 

 

久仰大名,雞母

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Jim
5 hours ago, Tomsima said:

久仰大名,雞母

积木, favourite with all the kids!

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Dawei3

 

On 1/9/2019 at 7:54 AM, mungouk said:

Chang, J. "Chinese Speakers",

Mungouk - This is great!  Reading your extract makes me want to get the book.

 

To expand on some of the things mentioned in the book, "V" names are difficult for most in China (e.g., Valerie, David).  

 

"Sh-" names can be hard for Southerners and also for some Northerners (i.e., Shenyang) who don't differentiate between S- and Sh-.  E.g., Shirley.  This said, I find younger people from these regions say sh- versus s- more distinctly.  (I always thought it was kind of humorous that natives from Shenyang, who typically called their city Senyang, were considered to be pronouncing the name of their home city incorrectly).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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mungouk
13 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

Reading your extract makes me want to get the book.

 

 

Well most of the book is given over to speakers of other languages... see TOC:

 

1010454125_swantoc.thumb.jpg.eaa94333d17ce4b6ab4bf4db94887ca1.jpg

 

From a cursory scan there are many similar problems shared by CJK + Thai learners of English, such as consonant clusters due to these being monosyllabic languages, and the well-known L-R issue. 

 

 

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Publius
5 hours ago, mungouk said:

due to these being monosyllabic languages

You're using the word "monosyllabic" wrong.

Old Chinese is monosyllabic, because most of its words consist of a single syllable.

Modern Chinese is disyllabic, because 60% of its words are made of two syllables.

Japanese is polysyllabic. Its verbs and adjectives have a rich set of inflectional endings that can stack up together and make a word incredibly long. I wanted to say it's "open-syllabic" but that's not quite right, too. Unlike Hawaiian, which forbids codas altogether, Japanese does allow a moraic /n/ to end a syllable.

Korean is grammatically similar to Japanese. Phonetically, it preserves 6 consonant codas from Middle Chinese (-, -, -, -m, -n, -ŋ) plus one of its own (-l).

Thai I know nothing about, but I suspect it's not monosyllabic. Monosyllabic languages are extremely rare.

What these languages have in common is that they don't allow consonant clusters, but we don't seem to have a word for it.

(Ironically, the monosyllabic Old Chinese is believed to have consonant clusters.)

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mungouk
13 hours ago, Publius said:

You're using the word "monosyllabic" wrong.

 

OK, I'm not a linguist.

 

The book says (my emphasis):

 

Quote

Thai, like Chinese, is a tonal language, with the meaning of each syllable being determined by the pitch at which it is pronounced. It is a non-inflected language and much of its original lexicon is monosyllabic; a high percentage of polysyllabic words are foreign borrowings, particularly from the classical Indian languages, Sanskrit and Pali.

 

and

 

Quote

The monosyllabicity of basic Chinese units leads to learners' separating English words rather than joining them smoothly into a `stream of speech'. This contributes to the staccato effect of a Chinese accent. Learners need considerable practice in this area.


From what you're saying @Publius I guess this isn't the same as Chinese and Thai being monosyllabic languages.

 

So what's the word for languages that are based only on consonant-vowel units?

 

 

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Publius
4 minutes ago, mungouk said:

I guess this isn't the same as Chinese and Thai being monosyllabic languages.

 

So what's the word for languages that are based only on consonant-vowel units?

Unfortunately there isn't such a word. You can say East and Southeast Asian languages have a simpler syllable structure.

Like I said, being monosyllabic and not allowing consonant clusters are two different, unrelated traits.

Monosyllabism concerns itself with the number of syllables in a word. Consonant cluster rules determine the structure of a syllable, what's possible and what's not.

'Strengths' is a monosyllabic word that contains two consonant clusters. They are not mutually exclusive.

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