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I know how to pronounce stuff like:

玩儿 : war

哪儿 : nar

男孩儿: nan har

But I recently came across 小偷儿. How would you pronounce that? Would it just sound like “xiao tour” like the English word “tour”?

  • I always wanted to find a recording of all erhua endings, but I never did. =( – Enrico Brasil May 30 '18 at 2:32
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First off, Forvo actually has a recording of 小偷儿 that you can go and listen to.

There are two kinds of erhua that you'll come across. One I like to call an integrated erhua, in the South this is the only kind of erhua you will find; so taking 偷儿 for instance it would become something like tēr ([t‘ər] or more accurately [t‘ɚ]). In southern areas the erhua always becomes an integrated ɚ.

In the North, though, you'll often hear what I like to call an affixed erhua. Again, taking 偷儿 for instance MSM pinyin matches it quite well: tou'r ([t‘ou̯˞]). Like a little r plopped on right at the end hanging out in the depths of your throat. You'll hear words like 牛儿、瓶儿、空儿 that sound like the erhua is just trailing there on the end.

I find the southern pronunciations much easier to learn for foreigners but there's something enchanting about that Northern trailing "er".

  • I'm wondering what would be the erhua pronunciation from southern area in your answer. As I know, erhua is often used in the northern areas and people in the south seldom use it. But it's the first time that I got the idea that we have two kinds of erhua, southern and northern. I'm interested in it if there are different pronunciations for erhua from different areas. – dan May 28 '18 at 5:00
  • @dan [t‘ɚ] is probably best represented by 摊儿. In the south (at least in 西南官话, as far as I know) 偷儿 is going to be pronounced the same as 摊儿. Even 趟儿 would be pronounced the same as 摊儿 in a phrase like 趟趟儿, sometimes with tone sandhi 头儿 is also pronounced this way. – user3306356 May 28 '18 at 7:30
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It's not like tour. Tour is pronounced as u r, like the sound of sure. Actually, it's pronounced as the letter O + r sound with the first tone.

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儿话音(er) is just a lazy pronunciation. try to speak xiao tou er as fast as you can, you will find that when you speak it very fast, all vowels won't be pronounced fully and completed, that's it.

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