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Google Translate and 查查在线词典 both say 辫发 ought to be biànfǎ, but Baidu says biànfā. What is correct?

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  • Interestingly, the sound file for iChaCha 查查在线词典 sounds like it corresponds to another variant: biànfà – Michaelyus Apr 20 '20 at 21:16
  • oh good catch, I didn't even listen to it. – Dark Malthorp Apr 20 '20 at 21:17
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Depends on region.

This word 辮髮 is quite transparent: 辮 braid + 髮 hair (of the head).

Hence, in standard Taiwan Mandarin, as defined by Ministry of Education there, both characters have a single pronunciation each, and so the word as a whole is pronounced biànfǎ.

On the mainland though, the second one 髮 was defined as being pronounced as fà on its own. This is where 辮髮 is pronounced biànfà; however, I do not see authoritative sources which say this is prescriptively correct, despite it being a common way of pronouncing this on the Mainland.

The character 髮 was merged with 發 fā and underwent character simplification to form 发. As 發/发 fā has become more common, this is where 辮髮 = 辫发 gained its third pronunciation, biànfā, which is the pronunciation on zDic.net.

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  • I'm pretty sure fā is incorrect and is a computer mistake. Xinhua is almost as precriptive as it gets but I should check Modern Chinese Dictionary to be sure (unfortunately not by my hand though). – xngtng Apr 21 '20 at 0:35
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According to Xinhua Zidian, the only admitted standard pronounciation currently for 发 (in Mainland) is

  • fā, various meanings e.g. "to send out, to dispatch", "to start", "to grow, to expand", "to open, to reveal, to invent", "to show", "to produce, to happen"; and
  • fà, meaning "hair".

As 发 in 辫发 refers to hair, it should be pronounced biànfà in Mainland China. This is also how I pronounce the word (native speaker).

In Taiwan, as indicated by the other answer, fǎ is correct.

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