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Tomsima

I was in a lecture just now and the speakers putonghua was pretty standard, but he clearly pronounced lièshì as lüèshì a number of times. I asked the person next to me, and she said that she used to say 劣 as lüè when she was younger, and many people today still do, despite the standard pronounciation of liè. This was news to me, so I thought I'd put this here, as some people may find it useful to know, or may have some comments/experience to share on this, or related issues with commonly-accepted non-standard putonghua pronounciations 

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pon00050

I am curious. I know that some characters have multiple valid readings.

But my Chinese isn't advanced enough to go over them individually and know when to use which reading.

I wonder how these native speakers picked up the wrong readings.

Is it that 劣勢 is a word that breaks the norm and only a few would know the proper pronunciation?

 

I am very interested in hearing what people have to say on this topic.

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Tomsima

As you say, there are multiple valid readings of characters in standardized mandarin pronunciation, but there are also commonly accepted but technically 'invalid' pronunciations that have remained or found their way into usage due to social norms, history, dialects or other outside factors. A good example of this is 血, which has two valid standard readings, xuè and xiě, but also has an additional invalid, yet often heard reading, 'xuě‘ . Another example that comes to mind is 梵, which is standardised as 'fàn’, but I have only ever heard pronounced as fán. I bumped into a more unusual example only last week: 鈾 yóu (uranium), which many people in the lecture I was in were pronouncing 'yòu'. This last example is interesting, as it reflects the difference between the pronunciation differences between Mainland and Taiwan. Taiwan often retains commonly accepted pronunciations that were not selected when mandarin was standardized.

Many people dont learn the official pronunciations for slightly rarer characters, or will pick up common 'invalid' pronunciations from being exposed to adults using such speaking habits for years. In this case 劣勢 appears to be more widely accepted as lièshì, but everyone knows lüèshì. Others, such as 梵 above are so commonly mispronounced, people will ’correct‘ you if you say ‘fàn’.

Sorry, pretty rough and unstructured answer, but hopefully a bit interesting

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Publius

In short, languages change. And they change gradually. Get used to it.

All English long vowels are pronounced 'wrong' from a continental European point of view. How do you think the long 'A' acquired its current reading that is nothing like the short 'A'? Or how do you reckon the British lost their R's? Overnight? By royal decree?

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Tomsima

@Publius Not really sure if I'm misreading your tone, but for clarity, I certainly am not advocating for what is 'correct' or 'incorrect', just hoping to share some useful knowledge of tones in real world usage

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Publius

Tomsima, my comment wasnt directed at you. Sorry on the move cant type more.

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Bibu

learning mandarin is a matter not only for none-native speakers, it is serious matter for Chinese as well. Chinese take 语文 class from 小学 till 高三.

 

The reason i believe is 

 

1. China is like euro , has many spoken language(dialects political-correct wise), the difference is just China got one official language and one written language. This is the  basic reason for a Chinese to spent so many time on it if you want to be an educated person. Before Radio and TV time, learning Mandarin correct could not be an easy job, LOL.It doest not matter neither, if you do not pursuit a position in GOV. The good thing is through the history, the civilized area language getting close and close.

 

2. The official language is based on the capital, the written part is an accumulation and evolution through at least 3000 years, across the GEO of China. The capital changes as well, so the official pronunciation changes as well, 安阳-西安-开封-杭州-北京-南京-北京....it changes ......

 

3. Not like alphabeta, Chineset need a great efforts to know the written language. The advanced oral and written language is by literature reading and learning, and quite similar. That is why if you read out some words wrongly,  it was taken as the results of not enough education or not civilized.

 

All in all, a Chinese is born only with survival mandarin , if he/she want to be treated as a civilized person, it needs tones of learning as well.

 

For Mandarin learners, you need to know which level you would like to achieve and realize the efforts needed.

 

my 3 cents.

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DavyJonesLocker

No need for much analysis in my opinion. Many people haven't the slightest intereste  in languages so just speak a language based on what they hear around them, how they grew up, intelligible or not etc. 

Naturally there will be notable differences in pronunciation . Look at UK and Ireland , all native English speakers but the differences are stark even though we all learned the same pronunciation growing up , (and got slapped on the noggin when mispronouncing a word incorrectly )

 

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Lu

I know a few more...

给予: should be jǐyǔ, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything else than gěiyǔ。

角色: either juésè or jiǎosè. I mostly hear jiǎosè. I always say juésè and am still waiting for someone to remark on it.

 

6 hours ago, Bibu said:

The advanced oral and written language is by literature reading and learning, and quite similar. That is why if you read out some words wrongly,  it was taken as the results of not enough education or not civilized.

This happens in European languages as well! If you learn a word from encountering it in a book and it never comes up in conversation, it is very possible to get the pronunciation or the stress wrong and not find out until years later when you are sniggered at the first time you actually use it in speech.

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陳德聰

It’s interesting because i and ü are actually extremely similar vowels and it’s common in Taiwan at least for some people to mix them in every word.

 

I mean there’s definitely the fact that language change is a thing, but for 劣 I am inclined to think it’s more of a crossover from home languages than it is an old standard. The character is pronounce with a ü-esque vowel in Cantonese, and I would wager that other Chinese languages probably have either an i or an ü-ish sound in their reading of the character.

 

Off the top of my head, I always trot out the example of 說服 pronounced as both shuōfú and shuìfú, and I can’t remember what order I learned them in but I now just blurt out whichever one comes more easily.

 

I see it as an either/either kind of situation. Like 處女 chǔnǚ or chùnǚ, or I dunno what else.

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Bibu
32 minutes ago, Lu said:

European languages

 

English is from many sources, in some sense it is similar like Chinese, the advanced words is wrongly spelled often without looking into it.

 

I have some very limited Spanish class From Cervantes, it or latin  more represents Euro language in general. correct me if I was wrong, it looks like Spanish could be perfectly spelled from the alphabeta...looks like a perfect language, LOL

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Lu

Spanish might be the exeption, but I know too little Spanish to be sure. Dutch is certainly not phonetic (although not as bad as English). I suspect German can trip one up as well.

 

But the Romance languages (from Latin, and then Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian...) are not the only European languages. There are the Germanic languages (Dutch, German), Scandinavian languages (or are they also Germanic? Danish, Swedish, Norwegian), Eastern European languages... Europe is a big place and what is true for Spanish, is often not true for the rest of the languages here.

 

Also, a small correction of your English: 'Euro' is our currency (欧元). The continent is Europe, never just 'Euro'. The adjective is European. You can sometimes use 'Euro' as an adjective, but if you are not sure when you can or cannot, it's best to always just write 'European'. That is never wrong.

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DavyJonesLocker
49 minutes ago, Lu said:

You can sometimes use 'Euro' as an adjective, but if you are not sure when you can or cannot, it's best to always just write 'European'. That is never wrong.

 

Used a lot in finance, Euro-bond, euro markets, euro libor (euribor), euro deposits  etc but you couldn't use "European" as it's only related to EU markets,  regulations and the Euro currency as you mention. 

Also in engineering such as civil, electrical etc you might use Euro Standards but again set down by EU. However not always in line with individual counties within the EU. Hence why you see plugs in German bathrooms and not in British ones (apart from shaver sockets):)

 

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陳德聰

Keep it on topic pretty please.

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Tomsima
12 hours ago, Lu said:

给予: should be jǐyǔ, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything else than gěiyǔ。

I heard jǐyǔ only yesterday! Im actually quite surprised to hear this, as my experience is almost the opposite. Anyone else?

 

12 hours ago, Lu said:

角色: either juésè or jiǎosè. I mostly hear jiǎosè. I always say juésè and am still waiting for someone to remark on it.

I mostly hear juésè, i have seen people get laughed at for saying jiǎosè at least three or four times that I can remember, often accompanied by 沒文化 comments. That being said, people from the south, Taiwan etc seem to use this pronounciation without anyone batting an eyelid.
 

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Tomsima

Another interesting one I just thought of: 幹細胞 pronounced as gānxìbāo instead of gànxìbāo. Is this common because of the simplified use of 干?

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Publius
On 4/5/2019 at 3:39 PM, Lu said:

If you learn a word from encountering it in a book and it never comes up in conversation, it is very possible to get the pronunciation or the stress wrong and not find out until years later when you are sniggered at the first time you actually use it in speech.

And hopefully not at a music awards ceremony on national television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_dLPKnNiOg

 

On 4/5/2019 at 3:44 PM, 陳德聰 said:

It’s interesting because i and ü are actually extremely similar vowels and it’s common in Taiwan at least for some people to mix them in every word.

 

I mean there’s definitely the fact that language change is a thing, but for 劣 I am inclined to think it’s more of a crossover from home languages than it is an old standard. The character is pronounce with a ü-esque vowel in Cantonese, and I would wager that other Chinese languages probably have either an i or an ü-ish sound in their reading of the character. 

Taiwanese Hokkien has only /i/ and /u/ but no /y/ sound. That's why the mix-up.

But I don't think the lüè pronunciation is due to the influence of their home language, because it's luàt /luat̚ / in Hokkien.

劣 is lyut3 /lyːt̚/ in Cantonese, lod7 /lot̚ / in Hakka, lih /lɪʔ/ in Shanghainese. They all came from the Middle Chinese *liuɛt, which when sound change rules applied should give us lüè.

The liè pronunciation, I suspect, is an anomaly in Beijing dialect, which was accidentally codified to become the national standard.

One piece of evidence is that growing up in Beijing I always thought 歪瓜劣枣 was 歪瓜裂枣, because in other words such as 劣等生 it was always pronounced 略 by people around me.

In other words, my theory regarding 劣 is that it has two readings in Beijing Mandarin. The standard took the rarer one and ignored the other, arguably more common one.

And please don't give me the education bullshit. I don't need to go to school to learn how to speak Mandarin. If the standard does not reflect the common speech, it is the standard that is wrong. If it hampers communication, as in the 梵文/范文 case, it needs to be corrected.

 

And to expand on my language change comment.

Languages change. They change gradually. People don't collectively decide "starting from tomorrow, we will pronounce this word this way."

There must always be some speakers who first pronounce a word differently. Then it catches on. That's how accents/dialects/languages came to be.

When an error is widespread enough, it becomes the standard. That's how language works. (I'm tired of citing the 呆板 example, but here you go.)

And the whole process never stops. If it weren't for the numerous errors made by the ancients, we'd still be speaking "hwæt we gardena" today.

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Tomsima

For anyone interested in my earlier comment regarding the varying pronounciation of 血, watch this video from todays 國際財經報道, starting from 18:24, you will hear two different ways the presenter says 純血馬, perhaps the second is a conscious (or indeed unconscious) correction of the first...

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UfOooooo

I’m Chinese. We younger generation is using lie rather than lue, a lotta dialects are using lue tho, but it’s not standard, barely used in our conversations now. Trust your dictionary.

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Tomsima

hopefully this is helpful to others: I just came across another common pronounciation discrepancy: 

佣/傭金 is standardised as yòngjīn, but is usually pronounced yōngjīn in spoken putonghua

 

(again, it was one of those situations where I said yòngjīn and a native speaker said 'its pronounced yōngjīn', I check my dictionary, then they baidu it, see it should be pronounced 'yòngjīn‘, then I agree to just use yōngjīn in the future and everybody happily goes on their way)

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