After carefully listening to the tapes of Assimil "Chinese with ease", I noticed that the pronunciation by the native speakers of a few characters differs from the standard tones: 多 pronounced with a 2nd tone, 複雜 3-2, 回來 2-4, 因爲 1-4...

I did not found any information about it on Pleco, and would like to know whether some dictionaries would reference such change in tone.

  • 1
    My personal advise is that you don't need to do so, but somehow should get used to it because they are familiar tone process commonly practiced in and around Beijing. This is so because tones in Chinese focus more on the movement of pitch rather than the actual value. If you are interested, you can watch the TV series 闲人马大姐 to learn. However, if not, you can just appear to have learned your Chinese in TW because they don't do that there. Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 18:22
  • In some tests for native speakers in mainland like 普通话水平考试, the participants are required to master that, though. Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 18:25
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    I think some of the pronunciations like 複雜 and 回來 are wrong. It could be due to the influence of the speaker's own dialect. Take note of tone sandhi also.
    – 杨以轩
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 1:42
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    Some might be so called “语流音变”. However, “因為” should be pronounced yīnwèi, while yīnwéi is a populor wrong pronunciation.
    – Leo Liu
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


There are three things going on here:

  • 多 pronounced with a 2nd tone

If you observe carefully, you may notice that all examples of 多 with 2nd tone occur when the following character is 4th tone. I believe this is an erroneous extension of the same rule for the characters "一" (yī) and "不" (bù), which both become 2nd tone when the following character is 4th tone, such as the words "一定", "不够" etc. Standard Mandarin does not apply this rule for 多, but some dialects may.

  • 複雜 as 3-2

Not sure about this one; may be a dialect thing.

  • Last character of word turned into 4th tone, e.g. 回來, 因爲

Actually the tone disappears instead of being 4th tone - it only sounds like 4th tone. It occurs when the last character is unstressed, it loses its tone and sometimes may have its vowel reduced too. Consider the following examples: 东西 dōngxi, 父亲 fùqin, 耳朵 ěrduo.

There are a few more rules covered in the Wikipedia article on Standard Chinese phonology.

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    I think 複雜 as 3-2 is dialectal, typically in northeastern China
    – user58955
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 0:20
  • I think it's in Taiwan people pronounce 为 in 因为 as 4th tone instead of 2nd tone, it's a dialectal thing.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 0:58
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    因为 should be yīnwèi. yīnwéi is wrong, although popular.
    – Leo Liu
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 4:26

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