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

  • Note: the standard in Taiwan for 餛飩 is húndun. – Michaelyus Jan 16 at 16:51
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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 at 16:01
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    @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. – Rethliopuks Jan 16 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 at 16:50
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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)

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/385/

  • 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 at 14:05
  • @Zuriel They may have just miss-pronounced 飩 as 沌; while pronounced 餛 correctly – Tang Ho Jan 15 at 14:08
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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.

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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:

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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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