Talk:Standard Chinese phonology

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Rising tone name[edit]

I write this in an effort to resist any more changing of the name of the rising tone (上聲) to shàng. The name of the rising tone has a rising tone. In Beijing Mandarin, that is the third tone. Therefore, the name of the third tone is shǎng. For more information, see Tone name. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Asoer (talkcontribs) 05:48, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

About the pronunciation of pinyin b as /p/ or /b/ and p as /p^h/[edit]

As can be seen in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin#Pronunciation_of_initials , the pronunciation of b should be /b/ or /p/ (not aspirated) and p should be /p^h/ (aspirated).

Anyway, my experience as a Chinese student shows me that b is pronounced as /b/ as can be heard in http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E6%AF%94/1300699 or in http://www.quickmandarin.com/chinesepinyintable/ , even though the "Handbook Of The International Phonetic Association" says it should be pronounced as /p/. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 88.5.214.165 (talk) 09:20, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't see that either of those sources says that Pinyin b is pronounced as a voiced [b]. Mandarin is a very well studied language; it is consensus among all interested linguists that it distinguishes voiceless unaspirated stops from voiceless aspirated stops, but does not have voiced stops. —Angr (talk) 21:36, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I think he may be going by the audio itself. Soap 21:39, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

As a native speaker, I think that the unaspirated voiceless stops are likely to become voiced in the future as a result of foreign language studies. At present they are incidentally slack voiced even when spoken in isolation. 60.240.101.246 (talk) 06:12, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

I can second the observations by the above native speaker. As a Chinese student I have recently observed that indeed voiceless unaspirated stops are slightly voiced. Also, as a native speaker of Spanish, which differentiates between /b/ and /p/, the sound of Chinese 'b' is neither /b/ nor /p/, both of which would sound unnatural. However, where I live (Wuxi) I have come across several locals with non-standard pronunciation who blatantly voice their Bs, Ds and Gs and have absolutely no problems communicating with other speakers of Standard Chinese. It certainly sounds strange but it is unambiguous, which means that a certain amount of voicing is acceptable and widespread, and considering how millions of Chinese people from all over the country live together in the big cities, it wouldn't be surprising for other alterations to become the norm. Similar phenomena are observed in other languages: in Spanish, for instance, a great number of speakers pronounce voiced stops as voiced approximants. In most cases deviations from the standard pronunciation occur because speakers naturally adopt the articulation method that requires the least amount of effort and dexterity while still being understood. When distortion is so great that communication is impaired, speakers naturally take a step back towards a more standard pronunciation. Through this process of negative feedback, speakers adjust the mechanics of their speech organs to achieve the optimal balance between intelligibility and effort. Pronunciation is constantly evolving. We will never know how Chinese was pronounced 2000 years ago, because there are no recordings, but I can assure you it would be very different, especially with the Chinese writing system being non-phonetic.

About the 'o' in pinyin 'wo'[edit]

I think it means a less rounded 'o'. Why 'ɔ'? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rethliopuks (talkcontribs) 16:20, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Neutral tone[edit]

This section is quite poor. There are apparently many interesting issues that can and should be covered. For example:

- Do some morphemes (characters) have only a neutral tone associated with them?

- In what situations does a toned morpheme change to the neutral tone?

The following page lists the various uses of the neutral tone, but not in a very systematic fashion: http://learnchineseabc.com/chinese-pinyin-neutral-tone.htm

I'm just a beginner so I'm not going to attempt to tackle this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.100.178.193 (talk) 02:16, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't think there are hard and fast rules regarding the neutral tone. Native speakers don't think about the neutral tone when they speak. IN many cases the neutral tone is an integral part of a word (e.g. eyes is yǎn jing vs glasses yǎn jìng). Natives simply mimic the speech of those around it as this is the fastest route to effective communication. Some native Chinese speakers use the neutral tone more than others, which means that, like I said, there are no hard and fast rules, therefore my theory is that the neutral tone can be applied to the last syllable of any word as long as it does not cause ambiguity or impairs understanding. Native speakers who use the neutral tone "creatively" determine when it's OK to use it based on this theory through trial and error, that is, if they use the neutral tone for a given word or expression and others can't understand what they are saying, then they naturally learn that it is not OK to use the neutral tone in that particular case, and they don't do it again. This way speakers gradually build up a "look-up table" of neutral tone dos and don'ts which enables them to apply the neutral tone correctly. Incidentally, this is the main difference between a native speaker and a learner: the native uses a look-up table while the learner uses rules to determine what's correct and what's not correct. Rules are compact and simple, but require more processing; look-up tables are fast but require more storage space (this is also true of computers). Building up these look-up tables takes many years, but it is the most natural way to learn and master any language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Feidaman (talkcontribs) 14:06, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Tone Sandhi[edit]

As a native speaker, I don't think introduction there is actually accurate. When there are two 3rd tones (˨˩˦) in a row, the first syllable DOESN'T becomes 2nd tone (˧˥), but becomes a lower tone, just seems like tone˧˦(34). Anyway, double tone3 is just different from tone2+tone3.Rethliopuks (talk) 05:10, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

No. A lot of research has shown that Chinese people cannot distinguish between maima buy a horse and maima bury a horse. Academic studies by Chinese linguists show that some people claim to be able to distinguish between 2+3 and 3+3, but under test conditions can only get it right 50% of the time. So you're 'I'm a native speaker, so I'm right' shtick is worthless. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 31.51.140.233 (talk) 23:38, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

For what it's worth, the "third tone becomes second tone before another third tone" is how it's taught in every "Chinese as a foreign language" resource I've ever seen, and I've never had any trouble being understood speaking that way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.87.124.48 (talk) 11:31, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Recent move[edit]

Kanguole, please explain yourself. Since when has WP mandated that we maintain uniformity across articles? I'm not going to wheel-war, but I am not convinced that this article describes solely the phonology for "Putonghua". Indeed, many of these rules pronunciation rules exist within Beijing dialect, among others. And I warn you. I will not tolerate an aggressive attitude in the mould of Taivo. --HXL's Roundtable, and Record 04:19, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

In the previous version, the article was explicitly about the phonology of the standard language, as it has been since it was created by splitting out the Phonology section of Standard Mandarin. Surely the question of its title is the same as that of the parent article. Of course the phonology of Putonghua/Guoyu is based on that of Beijing, but the phonology of Mandarin dialects in general is covered at Mandarin dialects#Phonology. Kanguole 09:33, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
What is the point of changing the name to Standard Chinese? From a descriptive point of view, there is no "Chinese language" but a family of closely related languages. The official language of the PRC is Mandarin (based on but not identical to the Beijing dialect) and that's the name we use elsewhere on Wikipedia. I nominate changing it back. AlexanderKaras (talk) 09:06, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Do you mean you want to move Standard Chinese back? There was an extensive move discussion that concluded that that was the most common term for the language in recent English-language sources. In addition, plain "Mandarin" is ambiguous: it could refer to the standard language or to the Mandarin Chinese group of dialects. Kanguole 09:24, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
What do you mean "from a descriptive point of view", Alexander? I can only recall seeing Chinese described as a group of unintelligible dialects. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 15:26, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
That's my point. There is no single "Chinese language" to speak of, so it makes more sense to say "Standard Mandarin". Doesn't it? AlexanderKaras (talk) 20:33, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Ahh, but see a language is a dialect with an army and navy. There's no objective, "descriptive" way to distinguish between a group of related dialects and a group of related languages. Even using mutual intelligibility has problems. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:02, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm honestly not interested in discussing whether Mandarin is a language or a dialect of Chinese; I just think it's more precise to specify that this article is about standard Mandarin in particular. There are several dialects of that language too (or dialects of a dialect, if you prefer). AlexanderKaras (talk) 02:56, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Are there standard varieties of other Chinese dialects? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 04:13, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Standard Cantonese and Taiwanese Hokkien come to mind. Quigley (talk) 04:30, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
This was discussed at great length in Talk:Standard Chinese#Requested move. In summary, the most common name for this language in reliable English-language sources is "(Modern) (Standard) Chinese", so its article is called Standard Chinese. Kanguole 08:29, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Missing character for "la"[edit]

Under variants of the exclamation "a", the character for "la" is not given. Could this character be 啦? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 166.147.104.149 (talk) 15:24, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Complementary distribution???[edit]

"The alveolo-palatal consonants [t͡ɕ t͡ɕʰ ɕ] are in complementary distribution with the alveolar consonants [t͡s t͡sʰ s], retroflex consonants [t͡ʂ t͡ʂʰ ʂ], and velar consonants [k kʰ x]" I am a native speaker of Mandarin, and I can say this is totally wrong. Phonemes with complementary distribution should not have minimal pairs, while in fact the above three sets do have minimal pairs. Example: [t͡ɕa] "home", [t͡ʂa] "poke", [ka] "jam (verb)." This is a pretty big mistake but I am not a linguist so I did not correct it. Could anybody clarify this up? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 123.121.113.76 (talk) 07:48, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

I believe it's based on analysing the first one (jiā) as [t͡ɕja]. Kanguole 14:19, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
The claim is uncited, so I've marked it as dubious. After a reasonable amount of time has been given to allow editors to back up the claim, we'll take it out if it's still uncited. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 21:34, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

The Consonants and Vowels sections really need some citations and example characters[edit]

As a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese who have studied some linguistics in college, I find some analysis of the Chinese consonants and vowels in this article very "novel". Some of the description and classification of the phones is definitely not common sense in China. Citations are badly needed.

Also, sometimes it is really difficult to figure out what characters are being discussed. For instance, what characters are [ɥœ̜], [ɥœ̜n], [ɤ], [ɤŋ] and [wɤŋ]? It would be much clearer if the character are written out (preferably in Chinese). (I can't do that because I can't guess out what the characters are.) Betty (talk) 10:47, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

月圆额鞥(pinyin eng)翁 are some examples. These phonetic representations definitely make sense IMO; they seem pretty accurate to me (also a native Chinese speaker). You can't just "intuitively" write 月 as /ɥɛ/ or 翁 as /wəŋ/, as that would be very different from how the characters are actually pronounced (at least in the Beijing dialect). Wyverald (talk) 05:26, 6 November 2012 (UTC)
I didn't say [ɥœ̜], [ɥœ̜n], [ɤ], [ɤŋ] and [wɤŋ] are inaccurately represented. I mentioned them because is it's not very easy to figure out what characters they refer to and it's better to write out the example characters.
When I say citations are needed I refer to claims like "there are only two vowel nuclei in Mandarin". Well that one actually has a reference but everything else in the section does not have any references to back them up. I'm not saying those claims are wrong. I'm just saying more citations are needed. Betty (talk) 10:55, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Let's take an example. First, if [ɤ] is 额, and this is the Wiki page for [ɤ] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close-mid_back_unrounded_vowel. It has a sound file, and it does not sound like 额 at all. Second, at another paragraph the article says [ɰʌ] is 饿. So is it because 额 and 饿 have different pronunciations apart from the tone, or two people analyze the same sound differently? Who in what books made those analysis? Many of the claims in the article are not common sense, and sometimes the claims are conflicting, so it is really important to give some references. Betty (talk) 11:50, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Agreed, it would really help to have examples listed for the sounds. I'm a linguist and can speak some Chinese, and I still have a terrible time making sense out of the chart for the finals. I think the transcriptions are actually quite good (though there's a lot of variation in Mandarin pronunciation), but it's standard practice to give examples of what you're talking about. Also, Betty is right, there should be (a) internal consistency and (b) some type of citation pointing to the source of the standard that this article is supposed to be describing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.44.184.180 (talk) 12:21, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

/w/[edit]

Some people pronounced [v] instead of /w/. Fête (talk) 22:27, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Missing vowel diphthongs?[edit]

It seems one or more vowel diphthongs (or medials) are missing from the article and chart. Namely, in pinyin the pair "iu", as in liu 六. In IPA I think it looks like /ɪʊ/. 76.21.23.167 (talk) 02:15, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

[w] or [ʷ]?[edit]

Chao (1934) notes that English sway has a consonant sequence, [swei], whereas Mandarin sui has a labialized consonant, [sʷei]. In English the lip rounding follows the /s/, while in Mandarin it is simultaneous. Do people still hold this view? Is medial -w- generally labialization in Chinese? Is there anything similar with medial -y-? — kwami (talk) 00:58, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Dunno for sure, but I suspect you'd still be understood whichever you do, so it's not really a phonemic issue. From my personal experience, medial -w- can often be just labialization (especially when speaking quickly), and medial -y- can even be lost completely after the alveolo-palatals (I heard this once, not sure when); but I haven't heard it being realized as just [ʲ]. Double sharp (talk) 14:48, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Consonant section[edit]

Why are both [] and // used in the same table? --2.245.87.193 (talk) 15:35, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Books generally seem to list all these sounds as separate entities, and then do further analysis to show the palatals to be allophones of something else (though not always the same something else), and the glides to be allophones of the high vowels (or vice versa, but the main analysis in this article is that way round). So while the other consonant sounds can be listed as phonemes, i.e. / / , those particular ones shouldn't be, and are therefore placed within [ ] . Someone may have a better suggestion as to how to present it, but for now this way seems quite OK to me. W. P. Uzer (talk) 17:42, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Allophones[edit]

"In diphthong with [ɪ̯] (note wei often becomes [wiː] when first tone)"

This is just a lazy pronunciation. Reducing a diphthong to a pure vowel is common in many dialects, but this can't be considered standard because this guide doesn't refer to pronunciation by a someone speaking Mandarin with dialectal influence. --2.245.67.97 (talk) 16:58, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

It is a description, not a guide. There is no reason not to mention dialectal pronunciations. Peter238 (talk) 16:29, 19 October 2014 (UTC)
@Peter238: Shouldn't the article on Standard Chinese Phonology give information about Standard Chinese pronunciation? I'm fairly certain that "dialectal pronunciations" are considered separate from the standard variety of a given language. In any case, the article doesn't mention that it's dialectal pronunciation, and makes it sound like an acceptable standard pronunciation across all dialects (same with [jəʊ̯˥] being pronounced [juː˥]). If we are going to include dialectal pronunciations, we should at least mention what is and isn't dialectal. Zgialor (talk) 17:12, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
This information comes from Duanmu's book on Standard Chinese Phonology. If that author considered it relevant to that topic, then I think we can as well. That author doesn't seem to consider it dialectal, but if other sources do, then of course that can be mentioned.W. P. Uzer (talk) 22:15, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Then let's rephrase it to "Duanmu (2000) states that wei often becomes [wiː] when first tone". Either way, we must source the sentence. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 22:31, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
It's kind of already said that the whole table is based on Duanmu. I don't think individual points within it need attribution (and certainly not of the "Duanmu says..." type) unless there are different sources that specifically contradict something. W. P. Uzer (talk) 23:08, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Tone of "啊" and assimilated forms[edit]

"A particular case of assimilation is that of the sentence-final exclamatory particle ā, a weak syllable, which has different characters for its assimilated forms:"

As a weak syllable, to my understanding, the sentence final particle 啊 and its assimilated forms 呀, 哇, 哪, and 啦 (does 啦 count as assimilation?) should be toneless, and yet they are listed in the article as having a first tone. Shouldn't they be "a", "ya", "wa", "na", and "la", rather than "ā", "yā", "wā", "nā", and "lā"? Zgialor (talk) 02:01, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Tone sandhi of "一" before cardinal numbers[edit]

Under "Tones on special syllables" in "Tone sandhi", the article talks about the basic tone sandhi rules for 一 (yī), giving examples consisting only of disyllabic compounds starting with 一, and says that 一 does not change tone as part of an ordinal number and that it can become toneless between two reduplicated words. However, the article is not clear about how the tone of 一 is affected as part of a cardinal number. Would 一百 be pronounced yībǎi or yìbǎi? Would 一只猫 be pronounced any different from 亿只猫? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zgialor (talkcontribs) 02:23, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

I haven't actually heard anyone saying 一百 in Chinese with yī instead od yì, but this may depend a lot on geography. I say yì here. I don't think 一只猫 and 亿只猫 would sound different - both have yì for me. But the latter is far weirder, so I would stress 亿 in the latter as opposed to 猫 in the former. Double sharp (talk) 14:31, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

Pronunciation of e final[edit]

The article seems to disagree on how the e final (as in 了 le or 个 ) is pronounced. The 5/6-vowel-phoneme-analysis table says that it's pronounced [ɤ], while the 2-vowel-phoneme-analysis table says that it's pronounced [ɯʌ̯]. Zgialor (talk) 17:38, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Because different sources give different phonetic values for the various finals. That's already mentioned above both tables. W. P. Uzer (talk) 22:21, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
@W. P. Uzer: OK, I didn't see that before. It's a bit confusing when two different vowel qualities are given for the same phonemes without saying anything about which one is considered more standard (if either one is) or where each one is used, but it seems that it this case there may be nothing that can be done about it. (I notice that the analyses also differ in the qualities of the ou, iou/you, and eng finals, with the 5/6-vowel analysis giving [əʊ̯], [jəʊ̯], and [əŋ], and the 2-vowel analysis giving [ɤʊ̯], [jɤʊ̯], and [ɤŋ]. Again, it may very well be that there's nothing that can be done about this.) Zgialor (talk) 02:17, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Is it [z] or [ts]?[edit]

I really dont know. Currently Standard_Chinese_phonology#Syllabic_consonants says Mandarin Chinese has a syllabic [z], even though further up above in the consonant chart it says the sound spelled "z" isn't a [z] at all, but [ts] which is completely different. Is it sloppy typing or is there actually a syllabic consonant that doesnt occur as a regular consonant? Actually on second read, it seems to be saying that it's actually [tsz̄], i.e. that /z/ is indeed a syllabic consonant in Chinese, with no nonsyllabioc version, but that it replaces a vowel rather than spreading from the consonant before that vowel. Soap 14:16, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

That's how it's described in at least one book. Other authors doubtless analyze it differently. W. P. Uzer (talk) 14:31, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. To be honest, I wrote that on no sleep and it probably shouldve been obvious to me. Still, I bet Im not the only one in the entire history of reading the article to get confused. Soap 17:28, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
@Soap: The IPA for these homorganic vowels, or however we want to call them, is an undotted i with a hook at the top. I can't find it to paste it here. However, since it appears in such distinct flavours (vocalic z, vocalic ɹ, and in non-Standard varieties even vocalic v) it is often analysed as separate phonemes. Ogress smash! 14:57, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

Third tone[edit]

We have a cite from Duanmu for the statement, "Unlike the other tones, third tone is pronounced with breathiness or murmur."

This is just wrong. In Standard Chinese, the third tone is creaky, not breathy or murmured. There's absolutely no confusion on this issue, it's actually often extremely pronounced creakiness, not subtle at all, and not at all breathy or murmured.

However, I have little access to phonology texts at the moment; does anyone have a cite for this? Ogress smash! 14:53, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

(Alveolo-)palatal[edit]

@Ogress: '(Alveolo-)palatal' is not a single word, 'alveolo-palatal' is. The former means "either alveolo-palatal or palatal", the latter, well, "alveolo-palatal". Peter238 (talk) 18:22, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

We also need a source that says that /j/ and /ɥ/ are, respectively, alveolo-palatal and labio-alveolo-palatal, rather than just, respectively, palatal and labio-palatal. Peter238 (talk) 18:39, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
No, they are palatal and labio-palatal. The velar is also not velar but labialized velar. The semivowels are not quite classifiable into the places of articulation of the other consonants, so I've split them into a separate group and refrain from classifying them as what has been done on the pinyin page.--Officer781 (talk) 16:51, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

Analysis on the syllabic consonants.[edit]

Is there an accepted way of analyzing the syllabic consonants in <zi, si, ci, zhi, chi, shi>?

AiNoUta (talk) 21:48, 27 December 2015 (UTC)

It really depends based on sources. Some sources would analyse them as syllabic fricatives (like Duanmu), while others (like Zee) as syllabic approximants. Although the latter is rarer in the literature, a strong argument for it would be its phonetic accuracy as it is also stated in the literature (conceded by Duanmu as well) that the voiced retroflex fricative/approximant and syllabic fricatives/approximants have hardly any frication (and would thus be better described as approximants).--Officer781 (talk) 16:04, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

This entire article is misconceived[edit]

It is extremely difficult for me to find anything in this article with which I would agree.

The most serious problem is that it fails to recognise the essentially 'artificial' nature of Modern Standard Chinese. MSC phonology was constructed by meetings of Han Chinese intellectuals, whose sole aim was to allocate to each Chinese character a certain pronunciation. Little work was done on the phonemic construction of these syllables, although the theory put forward with the publication of the Zhuyin Zimu in 1914 was far ahead of anything which has appeared since (that Chinese syllables contain a maximum of four phonemes: initial, medial, final and tone.)

Nothing in this article mentions the problem of stitching these syllables together. It's not mentioned anywhere else, to my knowledge. After one year studying Chinese I concluded that what I had learnt was not a proper language at all. I think many people studying Chinese come quickly to form this view, although they may be unable to articulate it. They just give up in disgust.

Without discussing this problem, this article is in no way adequate as a description of Chinese phonology.

Actual syllables of spoken MSC do not coincide with the phonemic syllables of each character. The boundaries are different, and intrusive sounds are added. It seems that nobody ever saw this problem: they thought it sufficient to join syllables according to the rules of their native speech. (Actually, they probably never even realised that such rules existed.)

For this reason there is, from a 'descriptive' viewpoint, no such thing as MSC phonology. There are no rules, because everybody invents their own rules. There are no phonemes, because everyone has their own way of constructing syllables.

MSC is a delusion resting upon a delusion. The first delusion was that there existed a distinct ethnic group known as the Han. The second was to believe that 'Mandarin' was the common language of the Han, even though perhaps only one person in 1000 actually spoke it.

No thought was given to the people who had created 'Mandarin' Version 1911, as these people were mostly not Han Chinese but rather Manchus.

It was the Manchus who forced the final acceptance of refined Beijing speech as the accepted language of the Court, over the heads of those Han officials who hung on to the Jianghuai Mandarin imported from Nanjing.

This article makes frequent unnecessary reference to the history of the Chinese language. This is a breach of the most important rule underlying linguistics: that a (synchronic)description of a language should not make reference to its history, except where absolutely necessary.

A knowledge of a Chinese 'dialect' such as Cantonese leads one to an understanding that syllables [an], [ang], [am] and [ap] each consist of two phonemes. This can lead one to believe that MSC syllables [an] and [ang] also consist of two phonemes. Free of this prejudice there is no reason to believe that [an] is anything but a single phoneme, just as [ao] also forms one singe phoneme. MSC has seven phonemes of this type, consisting of a vowel plus a nasal. This point was understood in 1914 when Zhuyin Zimu was published, but now it is forgotten.

Seeing MSC through the lens of different 'dialects' is essentially the same error as confusion between synchronic and historical linguistics.

To describe the phonology of an artificial language, a phonology which has never been fully decided, may be greatly interesting to some linguists, but it is scarcely helpful to any person who wishes to learn Chinese. Although it is awful to the ears of many linguists, a prescriptive account, based on the Chinese spoken by Manchu officials in 1911, would be more useful.

Linguists, naturally enough, describe linguistics as 'the' study of language. This is doubly untrue. Linguistics deals with certain aspects of language and not others; other disciplines study language, including aspects which linguistics ignores.

It seems that the notion of "good speech habits" is quite foreign to linguists. It's easy to sum up. Good speech habits produce speech which is clear (i.e. distinctions are marked), elegant (i.e. pleasant to listen to), and sonorous (i.e. loud), all while requiring little physical or mental effort.

To my knowledge, to this day, no person has ever acquired fame as a model of good Chinese speech. As far as I am aware the notion of 'good speech habits' is unknown among the Chinese. State broadcasting authorities seem, about once each decade, to come up with a new fad, but these ideas never catch on. The way Chinese is spoken by CCTV newsreaders only makes people laugh or sneer.

Those who sought to create this artificial language never produced a complete draft proposition of what MSC phonology should be. The result is that all people who use this language are in the dark about what steps one would take to improve one's speech.

I obtained 17 recordings of short essays from Zhongguo Chuanmei Daxue (Chinese Media University) thinking that these would surely tell me what Chinese experts considered to be elegant speech. Of these 17, only four pieces were not accompanied by music! This I believe is typical of the contempt which most Chinese people show toward the spoken word. The blame must ultimately go to linguists.

Careful study of MSC phonology can allow linguists to reconstruct 'Mandarin' as spoken in 1911 by the Manchus. I personally am especially fortunate as I have heard this form of speech, on one single occasion. It was astoundingly beautiful, and something which I can never forget.

I believe that the path which I have suggested is the only viable way forward.[[User:Luo Shanlian] (talk) 04:04, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Loanwords paragraph[edit]

I have again reverted the insertion of a paragraph about loanwords from the section on syllable structure. This insertion broke the flow of the description of the phonology, interjecting material about characters. This would be better discussed in the existing section Chinese language#Modern borrowings and loanwords, but needs better sourcing than the undergraduate paper and language websites that it cited. Kanguole 09:56, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

Voiced continuants[edit]

I realize this is one of the contentious issues on this page. Yes there are two camps and for neutrality, this article acknowledges both. However, we need to be consistent. The consonants and vowels sections need to both use the same transcription. If there is a need to change it to the fricative analysis, please do state your reasons here but most importantly we need to be consistent on both the consonantal and vowel versions. Can we have a vote on whether the fricative or approximant transcriptions are preferred (I'm in favour of using "voiced continuant" as the worded description for neutrality but the transcriptions have to use one or the other) and we'll settle on that?--Officer781 (talk) 03:26, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

Update: I have changed my mind and will be using both transcriptions to do justice to the two views. That way we do not need to choose one over the other.--Officer781 (talk) 01:17, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

(not so) recent changes at standard chinese phonology and pinyin[edit]

Hello. It seems that User:向日葵的夏天 has made certain changes that brought the transcription at Standard Chinese phonology and pinyin back to the complicated old transcription and away from Duanmu, Lin and Lee & Zee. Do you think we should keep his changes? I've avoided reverting further to prevent an edit war.--Officer781 (talk) 00:50, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

Hi Officer781, what I want is 1. a uniform transcription in all en.WP articles that 2. conforms to IPA usage.
Here is a citation from the section The Principles of the International Phonetic Association on page 159 of the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association:
"4 The construction and use of the IPA are guided by the following principles:
(a) When two sounds occurring in a given language are employed for distinguishing one word from another, they should wherever possible be represented by two distinct symbols without diacritics. Ordinary roman letters should be used as far as practicable, but recourse must be had to other symbols when the roman alphabet is inadequate."
It seems the transcription system 向日葵的夏天 has introduced constantly violates IPA Principle 4 (a) since neither the diacritics nor some special non-roman letters are necessary. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 13:51, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
@向日葵的夏天: Could you explain why you revised the transcription system at Standard Chinese phonology and pinyin? The system already here (which you changed) is based on three very very reputable sources, which is Lin (2007), Duanmu (2000) and Lee & Zee (2003) - and certainly more reputable than the chinese textbook you cited. This system is also used at Help: IPA for Mandarin which is used to transcribe Chinese throughout the English Wikipedia using the Template:IPAc-cmn. The point is to not complicate the system and only use it to transcribe necessary allophones without which Mandarin will become unintelligible. Other changes that you introduced, such as analysing the alveolo-palatals as independent phonemes, are not universally recognized (Duanmu himself prefers to analyse them as allophones of the alveolars).--Officer781 (talk) 15:36, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
The transcription used here and at Help:IPA for Mandarin differs from those three sources in the treatment of glides and diphthongs, e.g. with [xu̯ai̯] where Lin and Duanmu would have [xwai] and Lee & Zee would have [xuai] (but use [w] if it is initial). The vowel+diacritic version seems a bit cumbersome. Kanguole 14:23, 6 February 2017 (UTC)
@Kanguole Hmm. If that is true I'll change it to the consonantal transcription.--Officer781 (talk) 12:01, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
How about the diphthongs? Kanguole 13:41, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
As far as I know, the transcription system here (before I messed with it) already contained them. Some other editor's opinion on this would be good. What I do know is that there are other phonology pages that denote diphthongs with the vowel diacritic too.--Officer781 (talk) 23:38, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
It is reasonable that this article should discuss phonetic detail and alternative analyses, but the other articles should use a broad transcription following the sources. Kanguole 01:31, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I've changed the IPA template to remove the diacritics.--Officer781 (talk) 10:25, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

I agree with Officer781 - it should be put back to how it was (which, as far as I could observe, was carefully worked out based on several sources) and not changed unless some good (sourced) reason can be found for doing so. W. P. Uzer (talk) 21:29, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

Hi, I change the transcriptions because they are narrow transcriptions, I don't think my edits violates the principles, we won't get confused if we remove the diacritics. The diacritics are necessary for narrow transcriptions. I'm a native Chinese speaker, and I also don't think my edits conflicts with those linguists. Traditionally, we actually analyzed alveolo-palatals are actual independent independent phonemes, although it can be pronounced as alveolars by many speakers, and Pinyin gave it a unique symbol. Different analyzes may ues different phonemes. The book I cited is aimed at teaching people to know the phonology of Mandarin Chinese, so it used most common phonemes. The needed just most common phonemes. — 向日葵的夏天 (talk) 5:05, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

@向日葵的夏天 The policy on wikipedia is not to use narrow transcriptions. If you see Received Pronunciation, many of the transcriptions are in fact broad transcriptions (for example, /ʌ/ is in fact closer to [ɐ], /ɔː/ is in fact closer to [oː], /e/ is in fact closer to [ɛ] etc). We use these transcriptions because the phonological sources, especially Lee & Zee (2003), uses it. If we change to your narrow transcriptions, the table and the images used at the right hand side of the article will not match. The point is to introduce people to Mandarin with a rough pronunciation, not speak with a strong Beijing or Taipei accent. Also, we put the alveolo-palatals in brackets because we allow for people to interpret them as part of the dentals or as separate phonemes (brackets does not mean they are not phonemes. It means you can judge for yourself after reading the section). Cheers mate.--Officer781 (talk) 09:17, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

The same, /yæn/ is in fact closer to [yan] for Beijing people, and [yɛn] for many southern people. Above the form table it says "narrow transcription". Use narrow transcription to trancript the recomended pronunciation is needed. and I had checked the image before I edit. Obviously it will match with my edit. —向日葵的夏天

@Officer781 For retroflex consonants, many young people are use apical instead of blade. (For alveolo-palatals, it's blade.) Why do you reverted the error? — 向日葵的夏天 (talk) 5:37, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

@向日葵的夏天 Thank you. I have changed it. The retroflex consonants are never pronounced sub-apical even by Beijing speakers. I think Duanmu mentions it somewhere.--Officer781 (talk) 09:11, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

Officer781 Never? That is not right. As a native speaker, I can tell you many adult or old people will keep the subapical version. 这么跟你说吧,大多数相声演员都会使用真正的卷舌音,例如郭德纲。
记得在Glossica的书 Mandarin Chinese (Beijing) fluency 1 中简单带过:“北方人把舌头卷起来用舌尖背后发音,而南方人与台湾人则以舌叶发音。”原文录入下:
The second row with {zh, ch, sh, r} should be pronounced with a full and fat tongue toward the back of the mouth. This is easiest for English native speakers. Northern Chinese speakers pronounce with a tip of the tongue curled upwards (subapical) whereas southern Chinese and Taiwanese speakers pronounce with a tip of the tongue down and use the flat part of the tongue (laminal) Instead on the roof of the mouth.
《国音学》中也直接写明是卷舌,利用舌尖背后发音。
如果有机会,我建议你去听听郭德纲的相声。实践是检验真理的唯一标准。仅根据只言片语就胡乱猜测恐怕是不行的。说实话,相关条目被你把持住,实乃大不幸也。— 向日葵的夏天 (talk) 12:55, 6 February 2017 (UTC)

@向日葵的夏天: This may just as well be a reasonable advice for non-native speakers, as the subapicals are acoustically quite close to laminal flat postalveolars. I'm not sure whether Glossica's books are a reliable source for this page, he's just a language teacher (AFAIK), not necessarily a phonetics expert. The Sounds of the World's Languages says that Chinese hard postalveolars are laminal flat postalveolar, just like the Polish ones. Mr KEBAB (talk) 06:48, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

Vowel charts are misleading[edit]

The vowel charts do not make the distinction between fronted vowels and backed vowels (although it is mentioned somewhere else), which is important, since when [-n] and [-ŋ] are nasalized, this is the only distinction between an and ang, or between en and eng.

The pronunciation for ün is inaccurate. As a native speaker, I rarely, although sometimes, hear people pronounce ün as [yn]. Usually it is something like [ɥɨn]. Abccsss (talk) 04:39, 23 May 2017 (UTC)