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i__forget

Pronunciation of final -üan

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i__forget

It looks like there are 2 ways of pronouncing this final, one sounds like -üen (with the English "e" in "epic"), and the other one using the Chinese "a" which sounds like -üan. Is there any authoritative resource online that we can use to check what is the standard way of pronouncing this is ? It seems people will correct you however you decide to pronounce this 😕

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889

I'm not really quite sure how to represent the sound, but 天安门 and 星期天 are terms you hear constantly, so just lock in that sound. In well-spoken Chinese, I hear the same sound.

 

This is one of those instances where looking at Pinyin to analyse the sound may just be confusing. Listen to the sound instead and rely on your ears, not your eyes.

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i__forget

I am not talking about the -ian final! I am talking about yuan, quan, etc.

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889

Sorry. Guess my eyes are going. I somehow saw you asking about tian.

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i__forget

Yes, the female pronunciation of 全 in Pleco is -üen, the male is -üan. Most times I have heard it as -üen though. Specifically the word 选择 I haven't heard anyone say it is as x-üanze, it's always x-üenze.

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Demonic_Duck
16 hours ago, i__forget said:

I am not talking about the -ian final! I am talking about yuan, quan, etc.

 

The vowel quality of the pinyin -a- is the same in both, though. It's the same in all of the following:

yan/-ian/yuan/-üan/-uan (after palatal j/q/x)

 

In all of the above, it's more-or-less exactly the same as English -e- as in bed [edit: based on most common pronunciation — see further discussion below].

 

But it's not the same sound as in other pinyin words ending -an (including -uan after non-palatals).

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889

Which is to say 四川 and 完全 don't rhyme, though if you look at Pinyin, both end in uan. Which is why thinking of words in terms of Pinyin can confuse you.

 

(And I don't hear a male-female difference for 全 on Pleco.)

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markhavemann
7 hours ago, i__forget said:

one sounds like -üen (with the English "e" in "epic"), and the other one using the Chinese "a" which sounds like -üan

 

A book that I have (现代汉语通论) shows that -üan (which is the way "yuan" written when preceded by a consonant) should be [yɛn]. This ɛ sound is very close to æ (a for apple) in the mouth.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel_diagram

 

The æ and ɛ sound and are pretty close and I've found that lots of Chinese speakers often can't distinguish them very well in English. In Mandarin these sounds aren't used to contrast meanings (like they would in "man and "men" in English) so maybe Chinese ears just aren't very sensitive to them, and nobody notices if they are a little off and go a little towards æ.

 

This happens in other languages too, like R and L in Japanese (disclaimer: I almost nothing about Japanese), N and L in Sichuan dialect, and often x - sh, j - zh for many foreigners learning Chinese. Lots of times it's just kind of somewhere in between because the person saying it can't hear the difference, because they've never needed to. 

 

8 hours ago, i__forget said:

Is there any authoritative resource online that we can use to check what is the standard way of pronouncing this is ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Chinese_phonology this is pretty in depth, or you can buy a book like the one above, or 汉语语音教程  (Beijing Language and Culture University Press) which is written for foreigners (in Chinese).

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i__forget
10 hours ago, 889 said:

And I don't hear a male-female difference for 全 on Pleco.

How can you not hear the difference? Please hear it again! Look at the word 医院, the male voice is clearly pronouncing with an "a", the female is pronouncing with the  ɛ sound as mentioned by @markhavemann

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Demonic_Duck
1 hour ago, i__forget said:

How can you not hear the difference?

 

Not everyone perceives the same distinctions between sounds, especially if the distinction isn't one that exists in their native language. I imagine a lot of native Chinese speakers also wouldn't perceive the distinction here, because the distinction is not phonemic in Chinese.

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i__forget
16 minutes ago, Demonic_Duck said:

Not everyone perceives the same distinctions between sounds, especially if the distinction isn't one that exists in their native language. I imagine a lot of native Chinese speakers also wouldn't perceive the distinction here, because the distinction is not phonemic in Chinese.

Yes it looks like different accents have minor differences in the way they pronounce their vowels. Some of them pronounce them more close to "e", some others closer to "a". 

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Demonic_Duck
2 hours ago, i__forget said:

Some of them pronounce them more close to "e", some others closer to "a".

 

Yeah I'd say quan (xian, yan, etc) varies between /⁠ɛ⁠/~/⁠æ⁠/. Contrast that with chuan (man, wan, etc), which is usually /⁠ä⁠/.

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i__forget
5 hours ago, Demonic_Duck said:

Yeah I'd say quan (xian, yan, etc) varies between /⁠ɛ⁠/~/⁠æ⁠/. Contrast that with chuan (man, wan, etc), which is usually /⁠ä⁠/.

I have been looking at the tables provided, and 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel doesn't seem to have the vowel /w/ found in pronunciation [wən] of -un. The same applies for /ou̯/, I can't see anywhere this /u̯/ so I have no idea how final -ou is supposed to sound. Also, is there any possibility that some natives pronounce final -an as -aən ? So they exaggerate the beginning of "n" by adding an "ə"? I got sent a recording and I could hear it more or less clearly. Finally, how easy do you find replicating the sound /⁠ä⁠/ (instead of the typical English a) during normal-speed speech? 

 

@markhavemannThe problem I have with buying a book like that is , if I can't listen to the audio of each sound as I'm reading, it's going to be useless to me (i.e. it's really hard to remember how each sound is codified).

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i__forget

I find the table in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Chinese_phonology#Allophones to be very complicated, and confusing. For example, the final -ong, in Pleco the /o/ sounds very soft, similar to the /o/ in "orange", yet they represent the sound as /ʊŋ/ with a /ʊ/ that sounds very hard in isolation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-close_near-back_rounded_vowel).

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Demonic_Duck
3 hours ago, i__forget said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel doesn't seem to have the vowel /w/ found in pronunciation [wən] of -un

 

That's because it's usually classified as a glide, not a vowel. It's the w sound in English "water".

 

3 hours ago, i__forget said:

I can't see anywhere this /u̯/ so I have no idea how final -ou is supposed to sound

 

I think the mark underneath just indicates that it's the ending sound of the /ou̯/ diphthong, rather than a syllabic vowel. See inverted breve (usage in IPA) and close back rounded vowel.

 

3 hours ago, i__forget said:

is there any possibility that some natives pronounce final -an as -aən ? So they exaggerate the beginning of "n" by adding an "ə"? I got sent a recording and I could hear it more or less clearly

 

I don't think I've ever heard this final being pronounced as a diphthong, though I guess it's possible it might be in some dialects.

 

3 hours ago, i__forget said:

how easy do you find replicating the sound /⁠ä⁠/ (instead of the typical English a) during normal-speed speech? 

 

Easy enough. If you're having trouble, /ɑ/ as in father is listed as an allophone before -ng, and you probably won't be misunderstood if you use it in contexts without the -ng.

 

Remember that many of these differences aren't phonemic. It's important that you distinguish minimal pairs such as shang vs sheng, but not important that you distinguish shang vs sha.

 

3 hours ago, i__forget said:

the final -ong, in Pleco the /o/ sounds very soft, similar to the /o/ in "orange", yet they represent the sound as /ʊŋ/ with a /ʊ/ that sounds very hard in isolation

 

I'm not sure what "hard" and "soft" mean in this context, but yeah there's probably some variation /o~ʊ/ here.

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i__forget
1 hour ago, Demonic_Duck said:

 

That's because it's usually classified as a glide, not a vowel. It's the w sound in English "water".

How is the "u" in the -un or -uan final pronounced like the "w" in water? Listening to the Pleco pronunciation of "duan" it sounds like the "oo" in "taboo".

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Demonic_Duck

They're essentially the same sound. Speaking in very broad terms here (dialects of English vary) — "taboo" is usually transcribed /⁠təˈbuː⁠/, but you could also think of it as /⁠təˈbw̩ː⁠/. "Water" is usually transcribed /⁠ˈwɔːtɚ⁠/, but you could also think of it as /⁠ˈu̯ɔːtɚ⁠/.

 

If your ears are already able to differentiate all these sounds, you're probably better off spending your time learning to produce the sounds you hear, rather than agonizing about the theory behind it (as interesting as it is).

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i__forget

According to the links provided, the standard pronunciation of 军 should be "jun" and not "juin" as suggested in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qlZYw6IEhM&ab_channel=MandarinBlueprint I'm under the impression that I have mostly heard it as "juin" in national television, but some natives have insisted that it's just "jun", no subtle "i" before "n". What is your take on this? @889@markhavemann @Demonic_Duck

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889

Yes, I hear it in his pronunciation, but I think it's an artifact from his native accent. Don't like the sound.

 

Just listen to how he pronounces ear. He's almost got two syllables in there!

 

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