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realmayo

R-coloured vowels without erhua

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realmayo

Pinyin has zhi, chi, shi, ri, but Wade-Giles uses "ih" for the final sound.

However for pinyin's zi, ci, si,  Wade-Giles uses something else, "ŭ", as the final.

 

Normally people seem to talk a lot more about the initial sounds, comparing zh vs z, ch vs c, sh vs s. But how would people describe the change in vowel sounds? Do you notice it? Are you aware of producing a different vowel sound for 是 and 四? Do you/did you ever do so intentionally? Perhaps this is something that is neither much noticed nor actually taught, simply because its impossible not to correctly produce a different final sound if you switch the initial sound.

 

Wikipedia has a whole page on r-colored vowels. Do you think it's fair to say that the zhi, chi, shi, ri finals are mildly r-coloured, and where Beijing-style (etc) erhua is being used, they are heavily r-coloured? Should I be thinking that actually these are the same vowels, coloured differently?

 

I started thinking about this just because I heard a Cantonese speaker say 就是说 and I realised that my mouth goes into completely different shapes if I pronounce 就是说 as j/s/s versus j/sh/sh. And those different shapes produce different vowels.

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Demonic_Duck
38 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Do you think it's fair to say that the zhi, chi, shi, ri finals are mildly r-coloured

 

I don't think they're r-colored vowels, I think they're syllabic consonants. They're typically considered "rhotic" (r-like), but to be honest "rhotic" doesn't seem to mean much phonetically and is more an artifact of how writing systems (particularly Latin/Greek-alphabet-based ones) have developed.

  

38 minutes ago, realmayo said:

where Beijing-style (etc) erhua is being used, they are heavily r-coloured

 

I don't think erhua has anything to do with it. The -r final is a different sound yet again. 是 and 事儿 are pronounced differently.

 

38 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Are you aware of producing a different vowel sound for 是 and 四?

 

Yes. Zi etc. is also a syllabic consonant, with a different quality and means of articulation (except in dialects where zhi/zi etc. are merged).

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realmayo

Just to be clear, you would be saying that zhao is initial + final, but zhi is a syllabic consonant?

 

Moving on, do any other so-called pinyin finals require modification depending on whether the initial is zh or z?

 

For neatness, I kind of think e should behave the same way, but I don't think it does.

 

 

4 hours ago, Demonic_Duck said:

I don't think erhua has anything to do with it. The -r final is a different sound yet again. 是 and 事儿 are pronounced differently.

 

Do you not detect a scale? 四 -> 是 -> 事儿. Make the change from 四 to 是 and keep going, and you get to 事儿! Isn't that right?

So, if you learned southern Chinese and want to sound a bit nothern, you don't have to expend any effort to change the 'vowels', you just change the initials and the vowels/finals will have automatically changed?

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Demonic_Duck
34 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Just to be clear, you would be saying that zhao is initial + final, but zhi is a syllabic consonant?

  

Yes. But to be fair, there isn't really a clear dividing line between vowels/glides/consonants, it's more of a spectrum.

  

35 minutes ago, realmayo said:

do any other so-called pinyin finals require modification depending on whether the initial is zh or z?

 

No, because these -i finals are basically continuations of the initial, whereas no other finals are. Another way of analyzing it is that zi/zhi finals are actually "zero finals" (an initial with no final), in the same way that syllables like 阿 have a final but no initial.

 

I have a pet theory that ji/qi/xi can also be considered zero finals, because the mouth shape barely moves with those either. But that's probably a heterodox opinion, and I don't have the linguistic chops to back it up.

 

34 minutes ago, realmayo said:

Make the change from 四 to 是 and keep going, and you get to 事儿! Isn't that right?

 

Nope. Otherwise, 土豆丝儿的“丝儿” would be pronounced something like s---sh---r, and it's not.

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Takeshi

Yes, I would say they are two different vowels (phonetically). But obviously this is an unimportant distinction because the properties of the two vowels are influenced from the initial consonant.

 

The linguistic classification of these vowels (if they are vowels) is very controversial. There is basically no consensus in the field.

 

Personally, I would say that they are not syllabic consonants, because there is a clear distinction between the consonant part and vowel part of these sounds, and they group with vowels phonologically. I would say they are "apical vowels". Vowels with the tip of the tongue sticking out in the apical region during the production of the vowel.

 

Unfortunately there is no standard IPA symbol to describe this sort of sound.

 

Sinologists use the symbols [ɿ] and [ʅ] to refer to the two vowels, but these symbols are not in the IPA and are unknown outside of Chinese Linguistics. A lot of people dislike the symbols for this reason, and advocate using a standard alternative, but people still keep using these symbols because there is no alternative that is just right.

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Demonic_Duck
6 hours ago, Takeshi said:

there is a clear distinction between the consonant part and vowel part of these sounds

 

What about with 日 (where r initial is in the zh/ch/sh group)?

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Takeshi

At the end of the day, it depends on how you say it, and there may be some speaker variation about this sound.

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