During a Chinese class, a student pronounced 复杂 as fu3za2, instead of the official pronunciation fu4za2. The Chinese teacher corrected the student but then mentioned many native speakers pronounce it as fu3za2 as well, particularly in the south or something like that.

Have any of you heard this different pronunciation and perhaps know the reasons behind why such a tonal difference exists? Is it, like the teacher said, just simply a case of south Chinese pronunciation? Or is it more complex than that?


  • 2
    Actually the difference originated from 北京土音 (Beijing dialect), not south Chinese pronunciation. Source: 普通话语音和北京土音的界限. Search 复杂 on that page, you'll find the case: d. 方音影响 ... 复杂 fù-fǔ(另外“恢复”“复习”等词一律读fù).
    – Stan
    Jul 8, 2020 at 1:44
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    It's a complex topic when it comes to the discussion about how Mandarin pronunciation was influenced by a local dialect. I would say there might be some rules in some southern dialects that could make the official 复杂 fu4za2 shift to fu3za2. But generally, most sources show me that it's 北京土音's variation.
    – Stan
    Jul 8, 2020 at 1:51
  • Thanks @Stan! Would you understand immediately if I were to say it as fu3za2? Jul 8, 2020 at 3:38
  • 1
    Of course. Fu3za2 is a de-facto wide-spread pronunciation. I myself would occasionally say it so and not bother to correct it to the official one.
    – Stan
    Jul 8, 2020 at 4:05

2 Answers 2


The reason is simply because it's 顺嘴(for better fluency/flow better).

It could be that we leverage it from old generations. And then we have been corrected in school.

In practice, we know the correct pronunciation for it, but sometimes most of people still say fu3za2 occasionally because they already get used to it.

I don't think this only applies to the southern areas. I also find it's been said by people from the north.


You should follow your teacher's pronunciation: fu4 za2, this is the Standard Mandarin.

The other pronunciation is not correct.

  • 2
    I know that the other pronunciation is not officially correct. My question was whether you heard of this different pronunciation and if so, why do you think there is that tonal difference? Jul 13, 2020 at 6:22

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