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What does the word pronounced as "ma" in Cantonese Chinese mean in English? I understand that this syllable has five different meanings according to how it is inflected. What are the five different meanings of this syllable?

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closed as too broad by 杨以轩, deutschZuid, NS.X., congusbongus, Stan Oct 15 '13 at 18:31

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Which character? – deutschZuid Oct 14 '13 at 21:53

Since ma in Jyutping isn't a valid syllable according to Cantonese phonotactics, I assume you mean Jyutping maa.

Modern Hong Kong Cantonese has six tones, of which five are indeed valid contours for the syllable maa. I'll use the Jyutping tone numbers below, giving an example word for each.

  • First tone (high level): maa1 媽 (mother), 孖 (twin)
  • Second tone: not possible
  • Third tone (mid level): maa3 嗎 (question particle)
  • Fourth tone (low falling): maa4 麻 (hemp)
  • Fifth tone (low rising): maa5 馬 (horse)
  • Sixth tone (low level): maa6 罵 (scold, abuse)
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FYI, ma is a valid representation of /maː/ if you're using Yale Romanization. – Claw Oct 14 '13 at 19:54
Actually maa2 is possibly in tone sandhi configurations, like 麻麻地 maa4 maa4*2 dei6*2. – dda Dec 22 '13 at 16:40

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