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As most of you will probably know, 着 can be pronounced in many ways (depending on the context).

I'm wondering how the 着 in 爱怎么着就怎么着 (meaning: do as you like) should be pronounced. Is it zhe or zhao1, and why? I've heard some people it pronouncing zhe and some zhao1. In MDBG they use zhao1, but say it is also pronounced as zhe, but all the other dictionaries I've checked, I can only find zhe.

EDIT: In the mean-time I've found these websites where people asked for the same question: Baidu, SOSO and Xiaotieba. There doesn't seem to be a consensus, and there are no references.

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Could you expand MDBG? –  deutschZuid Apr 30 '12 at 0:38
MDBG is a Chinese dictionary made by the internet community. Here is the entry: mdbg.net/chindict/… –  BertR Apr 30 '12 at 13:01
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Dictionaries generally only show the 'standard' heteronymic readings of a Han character, rather than including all its contextual variations. This is the unwritten standard on Wiktionary as well, on which I am an admin.

As you have precisely discerned, both pronunciations are acceptable in this particular phrase; however, the 'standard' reading of zhe0 would be used in a dictionary for this particular phrase instead as it applies to a wider range of contexts, whereas zhao1 is restricted to this particular context (怎么着).

See the Wiktionary entry for more information: 怎么着

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Thanks for the reply! Hehe, you created that wiki page today :-) I was wondering, how do you know that zhao1 is not standard in this context? There are some words that seem to have two standard ways to pronounce (for example 暖和, 血) –  BertR May 1 '12 at 6:32
Very astute observation there. Yes I did create it yesterday, based on the conventions used on the dictionary to give you an idea of how things work on there and the ability to attach usage notes. You raise a good question. I am not 100% sure why a pronunciation is considered standard (hence the quotes), but I can find an analogy in English verb entries. Why do we consider the infinitive of an English verb the 'proper dictionary form'? It probably dates back to centuries ago in the lexicographical world. Personally I think zhe0 is used because it's used in far more phrases than zhao1. –  deutschZuid May 1 '12 at 22:54
... and/or zhao1 could be a more recent development and/or zhao1 could be more dialectal. Just a few guesses ;) –  deutschZuid May 1 '12 at 22:57
I just remembered the term. zhao1 is considered to be an allophone of zhe0 in this case. –  deutschZuid May 4 '12 at 3:22
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As you see, there are two ways of pronouncing this character, one is zhe and the other one zhao1. They are all correct, but the only difference is in which circumstance. In this "爱怎么着就怎么着" sentence, it should pronounce as zhao1. In this "Wo3 Zheng4 Zuo4 zhe1"="I am doing it", it should pronounce zhe1.

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I know that a lot of people pronounce it as zhao1, but a lot also pronounce it as 着 in the sentence above. If you check some dictionaries, you'll notice that they all have zhe in 怎么着, so it seems that zhe is the more official pronunciation and zhao1 is actually incorrect. Examples that have zen3mezhe are Nciku: nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E6%80%8E%E4%B9%88%E7%9D%80/53669 , 现代汉语词典 and 现代汉语规范词典. The only exception I've found is MDBG, but that's an Internet community dictionary. –  BertR Apr 30 '12 at 13:07
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