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NinKenDo

Tone sandhi in MS Mandarin pronunciation recitation?

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NinKenDo

Hey guys, I have a question regarding tone sandhi during recitation. Basically, if one is reciting literature with Modern Standard Mandarin pronunciation, what is generally regarded as the best way to treat tone combinations? Typically when I've heard people in the past recite, they tend to do so very deliberately and over-pronounce each character, but I haven't actually paid attention to listen for tone sandhi as my comprehension of literary Chinese was so low. Now I'm wondering if there's a generally agreed upon approach to tone combination, or any particular rules that people use.

 

Also ibf: I am taking a class that requires we use MS Mandarin pronunciation in recitation, so telling me to use Canto of MC pronunciation isn't useful to me currently. I already plan to learn Cantonese some day, and my ANki cards for individual characters have MC pronunciation on them, but most of the recitation I'll be doing in the next 12 months will be in Mando (which is going to be useful for my Mandarin anyway, since I can then quote things without weirdly switching into a language the other person doesn't understand).

 

I know technically this isn't Classical Chinese, but I felt like this was the best place to ask such a niche question.

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Michaelyus

This is an interesting question, wth a straightforward answer: one does generally avoid Mandarin T3 tone sandhi in poetic recitation, at least when dealing with Classical Chinese poetry (definitely 唐诗/宋词 and before, but with 20th century poetry it depends on the exact form).

 

However, how far other modifications of normal 普通话 go into Classical recitation 吟诗, that will depend very much on the personal "school of thought" of those involved. How does one deal with 入声 characters? Does it only matter if the 入声 has become a 平声 (T1/T2) in modern Mandarin, and thus we can leave the 入声 that has become T3/T4? Or should all 入声 have the same tone? Do we maintain the 尖团 distinction? Do we have to recite in 老国音 instead? Are 文读 readings (e.g. 白 = instead of bái) mandatory or stylistic?

 

There has been a lot more study on 闽南话 recitation, mainly because of the large body of scholarly work in traditional Taiwanese Hokkien performance practice, and because the complexity of its tone sandhi makes it relatively more interesting. The answer there is, "it depends": tone sandhi isn't something you can just get away from in that topolect, so one must simply make use of it. Plenty of musical parallels across the world

 

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