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murrayjames

pronunciation of 蓦然

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murrayjames

I have a question about the pronunciation of the word 蓦然 in the sentence 蓦然想起一件事.

 

现代汉语规范词典 says 蓦 is pronounced mò, adding: 注意 不读mù. A native speaker from Sichuan disagreed and advised me to say mùrán, because “No one says mòrán.”

 

Which pronunciation is most commonly used?

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Luna79

if the dictionary indicates it is "mo“ then it should be the official pronunciation.

But actually, it is very common that we get confused about how a word's pronunciation in China, and sometimes we just read "half of the word" - one of the particles which have an existing pronunciation. It's called 读半边。

However, 蓦然想起一件事,we don't say that in verbal speaking,we'll use 突然,  it's more written Chinese.

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Publius

The fact that the dictionary has a special note itself is an indication that the dictionary pronunciation does not reflect how it's pronounced by a sizeable portion of the native-speaking population.

 

And I kind of can see the rationale behind the mù reading -- mòrán leaves the listener confused whether it's 蓦然 or 漠然.

 

It also doesn't help that there are several high-frequency characters that have 莫 as the phonetic component on the upper half (墓、幕、暮、慕、募) all pronounced mù (with the exception of 摹 mó). Language craves regularity. A century ago, the superlative form of 'common' was 'commonest'. Today everybody says 'most common'.

 

Another factor is historical. 蓦 was neither mò nor mù in Middle Chinese. It's /mɐk/. Many of today's problematic characters belonged to a class called 入声 or entering tone, which essentially is a syllable that ends in -p, -t, or -k. Entering tone disappeared from Mandarin. And Mandarin-speaking area is vast. Even the standard is not a fixed thing. Speakers of today's Standard Mandarin/Guoyu/Putonghua wouldn't understand the Standard Mandarin of the 17th century, which was based on the dialect of Nanjing. It's not uncommon for these characters to develop very different readings, e.g. 白 bó/bái, 色 sè/shǎi, 血 xuè/xiě, 熟 shú/shóu, 薄 bó/báo.

 

Last but not least, it's in the dictionary doesn't mean it's right. I was recently intrigued by Google TTS persistently reading 踮 as dié so I looked it up. 现代汉语词典 says it should be pronounced diǎn, which, pardon my French, is just bullshit. This character 踮 is not in the 康熙字典 so it's a modern creation. If people wanted it to represent a diǎn sound, they would have used 𧾷+ 典. Simple. Another example is the family name 鞠 (Jū according to mainland dictionaries). I had a playmate with that name and we all knew it's Jú. I trust the 鞠 family to know their family name better than any dictionary ever compiled in the world.

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murrayjames

If mùrán is widely used in certain parts of China, I suppose I can use it too, even though the dictionary recommends against it. Is there are a north/south difference to the pronunciation 蓦然? How do people in Beijing or Shijiazhuang pronounce it?

 

7 hours ago, Publius said:

It's not uncommon for these characters to develop very different readings, e.g. 白 bó/bái, 色 sè/shǎi, 血 xuè/xiě, 熟 shú/shóu, 薄 bó/báo.

 

Recently I saw the word 柏树 in a book. I checked a few dictionaries and asked my wife how to pronounce the character 柏. Still don't know whether to use bǎi or bó.

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Publius

驀然 is a rather literary word. Most people probably first met it in poetry: 驀然回首、那人卻在、燈火闌珊處。 I think you should stick to the dictionary reading. I don't know if it's regional, because it's not an everyday word.

 

As for 柏, it has a literary reading (讀書音) bó and a colloquial reading (口語音) bǎi. It's bǎi in 柏樹, 松柏, 柏油馬路; but bó in 柏林 (Berlin), 柏拉圖 (Plato) and other transliterations. Also bó in obviously literary words such as 柏梁體. In personal names, better ask the person. For example, 張柏芝 prefers bózhī, because bǎizhī is too close to 白癡.

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