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While watching a TV series called 奈何BOSS要娶我 / Well-Intended Love I was struck by the way 好 is pronounced (*) when used as a complete stand-alone sentence to express agreement. It sounds to me much more like hào than hǎo.

None of the standard references I've seen give this sort of meaning for 好 when it's pronounced as hào.

Could it be that I'm mishearing the third tone as a fourth tone? Or is this just something that is common in spoken 普通话 but hasn't been documented in reference works for some reason? Or else maybe this is a regional thing? (I think it's set in Shanghai but I'm not 100% sure...)

(*) : There is a secondary character, an aide, called 闻立 (played by 慌千硕) who often gets ordered around by his boss, and he answers 好 to express agreement. As he's an underling, he needs to answer in a clipped manner - maybe that's why he doesn't use the third tone, which IIRC can take more time than the other tones...?

Edits (2023-10-31): Rather than being similar to a single-word answer saying 行, I think it's more similar to a single word answer saying 是.

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    Links? Timestamps?
    – Mou某
    Oct 30, 2023 at 19:08
  • @Mou某 I guess I'll have to see what I can do. Oct 30, 2023 at 19:34
  • I think it is the northern dialect, not the standard Mandarin.
    – r13
    Oct 30, 2023 at 20:06
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    This word 好, just like the English words "Yes" & "No", could have various loaded intent. When spoken in different Tones, 好 carries inferential, hidden, implied meanings. When spoken in the 1st Tone, it is a straightforward agreement with no implied undertones. In the 2nd Tone, it is how a subordinate answers a work order, implying immediate action. In the 3rd Tone, (with deliberate emphasis on the finishing Up Tone) it carries an air of conspiratorial undertone. In the 4th Tone, it shows a faint sense of dejection, like no choice but to agree, not daring to disagree. Oct 31, 2023 at 2:34
  • @WayneCheah I find this very interesting. The interplay between intonation and tones is fascinating. Do you have a reference for what you said or is it your personal experience? And, would you care to turn your comment into an answer? Oct 31, 2023 at 8:41

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There is the possibility that you heard a dialectal pronunciation, but I find that rather unlikely (not impossible) on a tv show. Generally actors get dubbed over way before anything not standard mandarin can appear.

How familiar are you with the cut off on third tone that very frequently causes it to not rise back up? It's very common for those not familiar to confuse "chopped" third tone with fourth tone as beginners. Keep in mind that tone is a movement as a whole -- fourth tone starts high and drops low, "chopped" third tone starts low and drops lower. This keeps them entirely distinguishable when you are used to it.

In this case, it would not be anything unique to 好 at all, but any third tone. I think it may have stood out to you so strongly here because most speakers would not "chop" third tone when it is stand alone, they would pronounce the rise. Choosing to "chop" third tone in that situation is not unacceptable though (^ν^),

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Technically, it shouldn't be a fourth tone, and as this character is used to agree in your example, it should be a third. This can be seen in several dictionaries and other reference resources. However, different dialects and people with accents might make it sound a little like a fourth-tone. Strictly, speaking though, a perfect pronunciation would be with the third tone.

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