Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

i__forget

Natural tone in second character of two-syllable words

Recommended Posts

i__forget

My Chinese teacher does not use the tone indicated by Pleco (mostly first, but also forth) on the second character of these words:
政治,分析,设施, 外滩, 故宫
So he uses the Pleco tone for the first character, then no tone for the second character.

I remember asking him specifically about 政治 and 分析 as I thought I've been using those tones wrong for so long, he said "no it's the neutral tone", now I am realizing that some Chinese people (the majority?) don't use the tones as indicated by Pleco for all words. 

What does all of this mean for my studies and my teacher? What tones shall I be using at the end of the day?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Dlezcano

I do not know where your teacher was raised up, but that isn't actually standard Mandarin pronunciation. While some of these words sound acceptable with the second syllable pronounced toneless, some sound definitely quite odd (外滩,故宫).

It's quite normal that different parts of Northern China (including Beijing) have different accents for Mandarin pronunciation, for instance in Northeastern China many people spell 脂肪 zhi3 fang2 instead of zhi1fang2.

I think subtle differences are acceptable to some degree, but natives should make some effort while teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Anyway I haven't heard your teacher talking, so I can only say what I mentioned above.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan Finster
2 hours ago, i__forget said:

I remember asking him specifically about 政治 and 分析 as I thought I've been using those tones wrong for so long, he said "no it's the neutral tone", now I am realizing that some Chinese people (the majority?) don't use the tones as indicated by Pleco for all words. 

What does all of this mean for my studies and my teacher? What tones shall I be using at the end of the day?

(I am just an intermediate learner myself, so take it with a grain of salt)

 

As you probably know, there is such a thing as tone neutralisation:

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58924-weird-tone-inconsistencies-with-some-two-character-words/

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/11124-neutral-tone-on-last-syllable/

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/45816-second-tone-at-the-end-of-a-phrase/

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/55512-sample-pronunciation/ (see Publius post on differences between mainland and TW)

 

Further, as you may know there may be words that can have different tones and then have different meanings (e.g. 东西 (1-1 vs 1-5))

 

However, to me your examples are unambiguous and I agree, I would also find it odd.

 

Is your teacher qualified? Does he have a degree teaching Chinese to foreigners? If it is just a random teacher from Italki, maybe he just does not know better? Or he could have some regional accent (?) (For instance folks in Tianjin apparently use somewhat different tones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianjin_dialect) (?)

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

The use of light vs normal tones varies a lot depending on location, age, formality etc. If you're someplace where light tones are used a lot, you'll instinctively pick them up and it'll be hard later to adopt more formally correct Chinese. You'll always be understood though, and it won't be a problem unless you're in a situation -- like teaching Chinese yourself to foreigners or in academia -- where formally correct Chinese is more appropriate.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i__forget

I can try raising this issue with him but I definitely don't want to argue about it. I'll just show him the tone marks as shown by Pleco, see what he says and leave it there. Yes he's from italki, not sure what qualification he has but italki does claim that they check these qualifications. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

If there's one thing I think I've learned over years of trying to learn and speak a few foreign languages, it's never get into a discussion like this with a native speaker. This isn't a matter of "qualifications." It's the way he speaks, and it sounds like he speaks just like quite a few other people in China. Would you always expect an English teacher from the U.K. to speak with BBC diction?

 

I'd say you have your answer. Why raise it with him again? If you don't like his "accent," then just get another teacher. But don't try to show him you're right and he's wrong. Hopeless.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mungouk
22 minutes ago, 889 said:

Would you always expect an English teacher from the U.K. to speak with BBC diction?

 

No, but then again (a) Received Pronunciation went out of date years ago, and (b) there's no test or exam for standard English pronunciation like there is for Putonghua.

 

22 minutes ago, 889 said:

never get into a discussion like this with a native speaker.

 

That sounds like very good advice.

 

But if @i__forget is concerned about learning standard Putonghua, I don't see the harm in looking for another (maybe additional) teacher who has the 普通话水平测试 certificate, and preferably a masters in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, then you don't need to worry about having awkward conversations about what's "right", but perhaps more nuanced discussions of regional variations.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i__forget

Why is it bad if I show him what tones Pleco has for a given word? I don't see the problem to be honest. I will not try to convince him he is wrong. This sounds like a valid question from a newbie student. He can tell me "that's according to the dictionary, most people don't use that as part of our slung" or whatever. I mean I am not qualified to debate a Chinese about their language, that would be ridiculous. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

Because you've already raised it once already! He's given you his answer. Why bring it up again. Change teachers if you're unhappy.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i__forget

I'm not unhappy!! I'me happy with him! I asked him orally but didn't show him the dictionary. He is my teacher, i.e. my go to person for Chinese related questions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

You don't want your teacher to think you're a nudge!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dlezcano

Talking from my experience, I agree that it is not a good idea mentioning again this issue to your teacher, and showing your "proof" could even make it worse. Of course not everybody will react in the same way, but many native speakers I encountered did not feel confortable when I "tested" their putonghua. If you like your teacher you can keep on pronouncing the words like indicated on pleco, maybe he won't care at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
889

In Chinese culture, there's something of a taboo questioning whether the teacher is right. Especially if the teacher is in fact wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Weyland

Pleco, depending on which dictionary you use, will give you different answers. One of the reasons for that is because the Chinese language is ever-changing and what is "standard" now wasn't the standard 30 years ago. When it comes to "neutral tones" you can expect them to increase in the future. E.g. 已经, in most Pinyin books will be written as 经 being neutral, yet most Chinese still use the first intonation. The best resource is to look at the latest word list of the PSC (普通话水平测试 - Mandarin Proficiency Test) and whether they have a neutral tone or a standard tone with an asterisk, which means that both pronunciations are standard but the character is in the course of being adapted to the neutral intonation.


Here is a list of 130 common words that are in the process of having their intonation "neutralized".

 

 
 
 
 
Spoiler

白天
报酬
报复
别人
玻璃
长处
差不多
成分
诚实
出来
出去
刺激
聪明
错误
答复
道理
底下
懂得
对不起
费用
分量
夫人
父亲
干净
感激
跟前
工人
公平
固执
过来
好处
喉咙
后边
后面
花费
回来
回去
活动
机会
机器
机器人
记得
家具
价钱
讲究
进来
进去
觉得
看见
客人
会计
来不及
老人家
里边
里面
力量
了不起
邻居
逻辑
毛病
没有
棉花
摸索
母亲
哪里
那里
佩服
菩萨
葡萄
葡萄糖
妻子
起来
气氛
前边
情形
情绪
任务
容易
上边
上来
上面
上去
舍不得
身份
神气
使得
势力
书记
熟悉
说法
太阳
态度
听见
痛快
外边
外面
味道
西瓜
下边
下来
下面
下去
显得
想法
小姐
小心
晓得
心里
新鲜
烟囱
摇晃
已经
意见
意识
因为
应付
用处
右边
遇见
愿意
早晨
照顾
折磨
这里
知道
值得
嘱咐
资格
左边


Personally, I'd say; leave it. Don't get into an argument with your teachers as both of you are probably right (although I can't say for certain she's right on the 政治 variant... are you sure it's not 整治?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jan Finster

Maybe this is a very western perspective, but I would say, a good teacher should not get defensive when a student wants to clarify this. For example, German has some very weird spelling and capitalisation rules. To make matters worse some years ago some of those rules have changed. Even teachers at German secondary schools may have to look things up once in a while.  If I taught German on Italki and a student showed me that my capitalisation or spelling were different than that in the dictionary, I would be totally OK with it. At least for German the dictionary ("Duden") is undisputable official norm.

If I were you, I would try to find out if your teacher's tones are an acceptable variation or if they are plain wrong. Do not waste your money learning things wrong. It will be painful to correct it later on. If your teacher is a community teacher, maybe take a lesson with a university qualified teacher and ask him/her the very same questions. If money is a concern, in my opinion, it is better to have one hour with a good teacher than 2 hours with an average or bad teacher.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i__forget
2 hours ago, Weyland said:

although I can't say for certain she's right on the 政治 variant... are you sure it's not 整治?).

Yes sir, I'm sure. I have asked on my social media platform Chinese natives and some have not added the tone to 治, It's a common pattern it seems, so I'm not too bothered about it. Sticking to the Pleco tones is beneficial because it allows you to remember the tone of the second character, so that's my approach for now.

13 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

For example, German has some very weird spelling and capitalisation rules.

Chinese is not the only mess of a language! 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dawei3
On 7/14/2020 at 7:37 PM, 889 said:

In Chinese culture, there's something of a taboo questioning whether the teacher is right

 

On 7/14/2020 at 7:32 PM, Dlezcano said:

I agree that it is not a good idea mentioning again this issue to your teacher

I agree with this as well.  A few years after I started learning Chinese, I discussed with a Chinese coworker the definitions of a word.  He said the word had just 1 meaning.  I showed him the definitions from a dictionary.  It instantly annoyed him.  While he wasn't my teacher & he was younger than me, I clearly hit a trip wire (and I learned not to do it again). 

 

I wasn't challenging him - I was just interested in understanding the word.  I confirmed with other Chinese colleagues his view was wrong - the word had multiple meanings, but I realized there was no way he was going to discuss it.  He viewed himself as the teacher and what he said was "law."  

 

After this event, when one person corrected me for saying something I learned elsewhere, I approached it carefully.  Usually I just take a mental note of it and ask other friends about the discrepancy. 

 

 

 

  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anonymoose

There are ways of asking questions like this without directly implying your teacher is incorrect. You could for example say, "Would I sound weird if I pronounce the word according to the dictionary pronunciation with a 1st tone on the second character?", and see how he responds.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...