According to dictionaries, the correct pronunciation of "馄饨" is hún tún, but I have never heard any native speakers pronounce the word this way; instead, almost all native speakers say hún dùn. Why?

  • Note: the standard in Taiwan for 餛飩 is húndun.
    – Michaelyus
    Jan 16, 2019 at 16:51
  • What is all the fuss? Go to 10 Chinese restaurants and 5 waiters would pronounce it "wrong" Aug 17, 2020 at 3:07
  • Maybe confused with 混沌 or 浑沌 ?
    – gnucchi
    Aug 19, 2020 at 20:15
  • In dialect, huntun1 = hundun1. somebody confuse it to hundun4. Aug 20, 2020 at 4:52

6 Answers 6


Because native speakers don't actually know the tone without being taught it.

Northern Mandarin pronounces it as húntun ~ húndun, with the second syllable having the light tone (轻声). The morpheme 饨 is not used anywhere else, so it only appears in native speech without a tone.

It's not rare for native speakers to reinterpret this syllable as "originally having the 4th tone" because of the acoustic similarity when pronouncing it with the light tone (there's a slight phonetic fall particularly as it follows a 2nd tone syllable). So when they try to shake off the light tone accent which is associated with being regional vernacular, they arrive at húndùn.

Note: Pronouncing t as d is unusual. It may be a sporadic change. The only other word I can think of, where the initial (声母) may be lenited in a light tone, is 糊涂 hútu ~ húdu. Many people do "correct" the pronunciation incorrectly to húdù, but this problem here is less severe because, unlike 饨, 涂 is widely used elsewhere with the known pronunciation of . Hence when speakers (especially literate ones) try to enunciate it, they arrive at hútú correctly.

  • I think the t > d is the influence of the most common words with the phonetic "屯" namely 顿 and 吨. (屯 itself being tún or zhūn depending on meaning)
    – Michaelyus
    Jan 16, 2019 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Michaelyus I doubt that, because most native speakers learned these words from speech not reading. I myself knew of húntun ~ húndun and hútu ~ húdu long before I knew how they're written. Plus the fact that historically most native speakers were illiterate and they are extremely common vernacular words, so they aren't unfamiliar words only learnt through literature (quite the contrary in fact). I personally know illiterate speakers who pronounce so. In fact, a spelling pronunciation would result in the correct húntún and absolutely hútú. Jan 16, 2019 at 16:34
  • Point taken. There is also a very strong Northern - Southern distinction to what this foodstuff refers to and what the pronunciation is.
    – Michaelyus
    Jan 16, 2019 at 16:50

馄 (hún) in '馄饨'(hún tún) is pronounced correctly

Since 饨 (tún) looked like 沌 (dùn), people may have just confused the two characters.

Cantonese write 餛飩 as 雲吞 with the same pronunciation

雲吞 /wan4 tan1/ (Cantonese) / hun2 tun1/ (Mandarin)

餛飩 /wan4 tan1/ (Cantonese) / hun2 tun1/ (Mandarin)


  • Thanks! But even Hùn dùn is slightly different from hún dùn. It seems no body will say 馄饨 as Hùn dùn.
    – Zuriel
    Jan 15, 2019 at 14:05
  • @Zuriel They may have just miss-pronounced 飩 as 沌; while pronounced 餛 correctly
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 15, 2019 at 14:08

Which one comes first: the pronunciation or the regulation of it?

You can only say one pronunciation obeys a regulation or not, but you cannot say which pronunciation is "wrong". If in one area, 99% of people pronounce it in the same "wrong" way, you cannot say it is wrong, you can only say, the pronunciation of the word in that area is different from what is regulated by a central government. For generations, people from my home town ShanDong call such a thing hun2dun4, why someone from another area has the authority come and blame that "you are all calling it 'wrong'."?

I agree that regulation is important as the standard for formal usages. For example, in the College Entrance Test, all the pronunciations have to be the same as the latest version of 《现代汉语词典》 (Modern Chinese Dictionary) by 商务印书馆. But it is not the case in daily life. One needs to respect other peoples' life. If you go to a restaurant in Shandong and order “hun2tun2”, people there will probably be confused (or amused). Same thing, If I, as a ShanDongness, go to SiChuan and want to order the same thing, I need to call it 抄手(chao1shou3) to be understood, and also to show my respect to people who live there.

PS 1: I don't think it is an issue of dialect, it is a regional variation of only one word. I think it is the same kind of variation of 菠萝 vs 凤梨 and rubber vs eraser. ShanDongnesses who speak Mandarin instead of ShanDong dialect will also call it hun2dun4.

PS 2: There is a possibility that regulation is changing people's life gradually. There might be a day that more people in ShanDong call it hun2tun2 because more people are willing to obey the national regulation in daily life. But even with this said, I don't think it will happen in my generation.

PS 3: Governmental Dictionaries, 《现代汉语词典》 and 《新华字典》 especially, are changing over the years. For example, the word 说服 was originally regulated to be pronounced as shui4fu2, but because too many people are pronouncing it as shuo1fu2, in the revision of the dictionaries, the pronunciation is directly changed to shuo1fu2.


Just stick to what you have observed, this is a long story, many pronunctions in the dictionary have this problem.

You can observe these characters in your life:


Let's check comprehensive source like zdic.net for 馄饨.

You will notice hún dun ㄏㄨㄣˊ ˙ㄉㄨㄣ come with 国语辞典 tag. This mean the pronunciation is generally used in Taiwan.

While hún tún is used by mandarin speaker in China.

In fact, you can call this "mandarin dialect", though some Taiwanese are not happy with it if you say so.


This is a matter of habit. Many Chinese pronounce it wrong,But people are used to it and don't affect communication.

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