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HSK6 (3-2)-tone-combination words

For some reason, the 3-2 tone combination is particularly hard for me; it seems to come out as 2-3. This is probably the most important systematic error I'm making in my pronunciation.

Question: How do I stop repeatedly mispronouncing the 3-2 tone combination?

I'm wondering where this problem lies, and if there's anything in particular I can do to overcome it. Perhaps there's more to it than "say these words are lot".

(I just noticed John Pasden calls this the 3-2 Tone Swap Error.)

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  • Do you have any trouble with 3-1? or 3-5? It's not clear to me why 3-2 would be any harder than those. In all cases, you have to jump pretty far down and add creakiness, followed by something higher than that. Nov 12 '21 at 23:49
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    Try to speak slower and put heavier pronounce on 3, one pronunciation at a time, and practicing with a friend will help.
    – r13
    Nov 13 '21 at 1:56
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    I think the "problem" lies in the fact that the "3" Tone actually do not figure that prominently among native speakers, who would just rush through, not that bothered to hang around to get the "up-down-up" 3 Tone spot-on, because it is a bit of a chore. But when non-Chinese speakers learn the language, they have to get it "right", and so meet up with the vocal gymnastics necessary when the next word is a "2", meaning it'll be a "up-down-up-up", almost needing to sing a "sopranic" phrase. Even simple words like Běnrén, (本人), is a chore with the "up-down-up-up" Solution? Take singing lessons? Nov 13 '21 at 3:32
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    @Becky: Are you sure you know what the target pronunciation is? This is by far the most common tone error for native speakers of English, and I have helped dozens of students to fix this problem. It's almost always that they rise on the first syllable (which you also mention). It should be just a low tone, followed by a rising one. It sounds almost like the pitch contour of a full dipping third tone, but spread out over two syllables. Check this if you haven't already: hackingchinese.com/learning-the-third-tone-mandarin-chinese
    – Olle Linge
    Nov 13 '21 at 23:12
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    Hi Becky 李蓓, each of us is different. In order to know where this problem lies in your specific case, do you think it would be possible for you to post an audio file with your recording? I'd suggest a casual and first-try recording. Nov 14 '21 at 15:54
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This is a very common issue, you are not alone.

I'd like to share a tip that has helped many students of mine. It involves an interjection you likely are familiar with. It's useless to just write here the interjection "uh-huh". You need to hear what I mean, so here you are 1) a short clip from Futurama and 2) my recording of the interjection followed by a few Chinese words:

  1. Futurama—click here for the short clip enter image description here

  2. uh-huh/本人/永恒/水泥

P.S.: Strictly speaking, 3rd-2nd must be 3h-2 (half third-second). I'm sure you are acquainted with the chart representing the range of the variation of one's pitch. The chart has five points (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), from the low end upward, representing the low, middle-low, middle, middle-high and high pitch respectively. Well, the 3rd-2nd (3h-2) combination is 21-35. It means that the 3rd tone falls from 2 to 1 but does not rise (that's why it's called half third tone).

P.P.S.: Not sure if your tones are correct? Post in a comment an audio file with your recording and we/I can tell you. Or you can send it to me at my WhatsApp +86 15902133840 or through the site wearyourchinesename.com

Edit inspired by Wayne Cheah

... and it seems to even releive the tension in the neck muscles!

enter image description here

https://www.thehealthsite.com/photo-gallery/fitness-easy-office-exercises-you-can-do-sitting-on-a-chair-b0218-556700/head-up-down-556738/

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  • I did a bit of experimental reading of OP's List, and I discovered that if I dip my chin down a bit on the first word, and lift it on the second word, it does help with the "up-down-up-up" vocalization. But then it does not prove anything as I already could "do it" anyway. Perhaps a beginner could try it and see? Nov 13 '21 at 8:14
  • Yes, 一(1) 举(3) 两(3) 得(2) :o) Nov 13 '21 at 11:49

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