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In Cantonese, 車 has two pronunciations: [ce1] and [geoi1].

In Mandarin, 車 also has two different pinyin: [che1] and [ju1].

[ce1] corresponds to [che1].

[geoi1] corresponds to [ju1].

In most idioms, 車 is pronounced as [geoi1] in Cantonese. For example: 閉門造車, 車水馬龍, 前車可鑒, 螳臂擋車, 學富五車 and 舟車勞頓. All have the character 車 pronounced as [geoi1].

*杯水車薪 is an exception with 車 pronounced as [ce1] (車 is a classifier here. The above mentioned idioms all have 車 as a noun).

It confused me when my friend wrote: "two of the Mainland dictionaries (including 現代漢語詞典) use [che1] to correspond [geoi1]" and list 閉門造車 as [bi4 men2 zao4 che1] instead of [bi4 men2 zao4 ju1], which correctly corresponds to [geoi1] in Cantonese.

Edit:

After reading some forums, apparently dictionaries in Mainland China, are contradicting each others, with some listed 'che1' and others listed 'ju1' for all the idioms I mentioned. It means the opinions on how to pronounce 車 in idioms are not unified in Mainland China.

With that said, the question remains. "Is it acceptable to pronounce 車 in the idioms I listed as [che1] in Mainland China?" I mean, if I said: "bi4 men2 zao4 che1" would some people correct me and tell me that I should pronounce 車 as 'ju1' instead? Most importantly, which one do teachers teach to students?

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    ju1 should really only be to do with chess – user3306356 Jan 3 '17 at 7:03
  • Mandarin uses 'che1' only with an exception, 'ju1' is only used for 車 of Chinese chess. I don't know other characters with 'ju1' (geoi1 of Cantonese). Teachers say: che1 only, this is standard of Mandarin, most ancient pronunciations are marked as obsoleted and removed from dictionary, i.e. 阿房宫,original form: e1 pang2, now, they are: a1 fang2. 'ju1' comes from your life, almost nobody need ask teacher on how to pronounce 車 of Chinese chess. – Daniel Yeung May 5 '17 at 9:53
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You can safely prounouce '车' as [che1] in all idioms above in Mainland China. Actually if you don't do it, someone might get confused since we seems only pronounce it as [ju1] when refering the name of a Chinese Chess piece.

  • It is news to me. In Hong Kong, if I said 'bai3 mun4 zou6 ce1', not only most people would correct me immediately, there's a good chance that they would laugh at me in my face. I am more interested in knowing how the use of ' che1' and 'ju1' is taught in school. I am sure that some people would prefer 'ju1' in 閉門造車, in some parts of China. – Tang Ho Jan 1 '17 at 10:16
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Check out the dictionary for .

The Mandarin pronunciation ju1 of 車 only refers to the Chinese chess piece. Even in Cantonese, it is incorrect to use [geoi1] in idioms. 閉門造車, 車水馬龍, 前車可鑒, 螳臂擋車, 學富五車 and 舟車勞頓, are all supposed to be [che1].

Nevertheless, the Cantonese interchangeable use of both [geoi1] and [che1] is somewhat "habitual", sometimes it is just meant to make fun of it, or make it sound extravagantly literate. You can't change it, so just follow the local custom.

Other [che1] in Cantonese: 車床,赛車,車站,車禍,車牌,車道,車票,車費.

You can tease Cantonese-speaking people by pronouncing the above as [geoi1], clarify it as [che1] for fun.

A Yahoo answer shows some collective info here:

《莊子.徐无鬼》「乘日之車」;《經典釋文》「元嘉本車作居」

《詩經.北風》「惠而好我,携手同車。」;阜陽漢簡《詩經》作「惠而好我,携手同居。」

《禮記.禮運》「天子以德為車」鄭注:「車或為居」

《爾雅.釋草》「望,乘車」;《經典釋文》作「乘居。居本亦作車,音同」

由此可見,古人把「居」和「車」偶要混淆的,所以劉熙說「居」為古音較接近事實。我見一些學者如王力和參考文章的著者,把車字的上古音擬為,聲母取「居」,韻母則近於「舍」。據本人所知,不少字音都是聲母韻母個別分途的。

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    I have never heard of any Cantonese pronounced 車 as 'ce1' in idioms when it is referring to the noun 'chariot' . Most results I got from searching the idioms I listed, stated 車 is pronounced as 'geoi1' in Cantonese – Tang Ho Jan 2 '17 at 18:44
  • The reason I asked this question: cantonese.sheik.co.uk/phorum/read.php?14,138943 It showed the opinions on how to pronounce 車 in idioms are not unified in Mandarin, but is unified in Cantonese. -- The dictionary of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China only includes ju1 in it's standard dictionary, and only che1 in the 兩岸詞典. Maybe ju1 is the standard ROC reading and che1 is preferred in the PRC? – Tang Ho Jan 2 '17 at 18:52
  • @TangHo : Since there is also huge number of Cantonese speakers in Guangdong district, I cannot confirm whether they use the same pronounciation. – mootmoot Jan 3 '17 at 9:03
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I would consider the opinion that say "The Mandarin pronunciation ju1 of 車 only refers to the Chinese chess piece. Even in Cantonese, it is incorrect to use [geoi1] in idioms. 閉門造車, 車水馬龍, 前車可鑒, 螳臂擋車, 學富五車 and 舟車勞頓, are all supposed to be [che1]." in the other answer as biased. It is just wrong to dictate how others speak their native language and anything you perceive as "wrong" actually have some rationale behind them. Stop trying to tell people how their language should be spoken because "some old literature say it should be this way". Language would change. (This should be a comment instead but I don't have enough rep to write a comment say I have to write an answer instead)

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