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Questions tagged [phonology]

Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. It has traditionally focused largely on study of the systems of phonemes in particular languages, but it may also cover any linguistic analysis either at a level beneath the word or at all levels ...

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Can Chinese words start with a vowel?

I've been searching around for random words. Dragon = long, green = lǜsè, river = he... I can't seem to find any words that start with a vowel. Do any Chinese words start with a vowel?
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Tone contours along diphthongs

I'd like to know as much as possible about how tone contours (T2, T3, T4) are distributed along Mandarin/standard rhyme diphthongs, especially ai ei ao ou, with references to academic articles if ...
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103 views

neutral tone in a non-final syllable

Can a neutral/fifth tone appear in a word syllable other than the last one? If so, as a lexical tone, a sandhi tone or both? Adding a few examples would be helpful.
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What is the right spelling, 乌兹别克 or 乌孜别克?

China is a country of multiple ethnicities, some of which can also be found in its neighboring countries, like Russia and Koreas. So the same ethnic groups are named the same as that in such other ...
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415 views

What's the difference between voiced and “unaspirated” consonants and how can I check if I got it correct?

I heard from somewhere that there are no voiced consonants in Mandarin. Wikipedia says that consonants like the pinyin "d", "b", "g" are "unaspirated", whatever that means... Although my first ...
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1answer
78 views

What is the 平仄 rule in 無情對

I am fascinated by 無情對, It is two of my attempts: 四川特產北菇 (Sichuan specialty mushroom) 三洋通用東芝 (Sanyo, GM, Toshiba) ~ 今朝書店晚開 (Bookstore open late today) 現代本田日產 (Hyundai, Honda, Nissan)...
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Is Cantonese a better choice in studying classic of poetry (詩經)?

Again, I ask this question, and provide my opinion as an answer, to reply to the comment of another thread in Stack Exchange: Pronunciation of Tang Dynasty Poetry Now, I ask again: in studying ...
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1answer
89 views

Is Cantonese a better choice in looking for characters in rime dictionary (韻書)?

I ask this question, and provide my opinion as an answer, to reply to the comment of another tread in stack exchange: Pronunciation of Tang Dynasty Poetry The rationale is that it is difficult to ...
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1answer
203 views

Are `sh` and `x` really different phonemes, or just different realizations of the same phoneme?

I can't think of any minimal pairs; like shu vs. xu probably shouldn't count as a minimal pair since the vowel is different.
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Are there any pre-modern/non-romanization examples of attempts to alphabetize Chinese?

Were there any attempts to alphabetize Chinese that did not involve writing systems existing in other languages already? This would be something like a Chinese analogue to the development of the ...
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1answer
108 views

What is this “XX” 開 “#” “上/平/入/去” “XX” method for describing character pronunciation?

Here is an incredibly horrible quality excerpt (read: screenshot) from 《四川邛崍油榨方言記》: here's the highlights from 2 ər that I wanted to point out: 爾 止開三上紙日 兒 止開三平支日 而 止開三平之日 二 止開三去至日 ...
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1answer
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Is Chinese really that ambigous in oral communication?

"I still am super grateful that all TV shows in China have subtitles (in Chinese) because even Chinese people will get a bit confused as to what's being said without the characters specifying which of ...
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325 views

Is there a chart of all possible Chinese syllables using Hanzi?

I have been able to find many charts that describe all possible Initial and Final combinations in pinyin, but I'm wondering if there is anything available like that that uses Hanzi only? I made ...
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1answer
211 views

Help with pronouncing 道 precisely

Practical conclusion from the responses: No digital media currently focus on the precise pronunciation of Pinyin Dao, or Beijing for English speaking students of Chinese. You must look to sources on ...
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3answers
331 views

Does Cantonese or Mandarin contain the voiced or voiceless velar fricative?

Update: I apologise effusively for writing ɤ instead of ɣ, which I had intended all along. Preface: I represent the voiceless velar fricative with its IPA phone [x], and the voiced velar fricative ...
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889 views

Which is the most frequently used tone?

The most difficult for me in learning Chinese is memorizing the correct tone. I tried to find on web what the most frequently used tones are, but it seems to be hard to find. I suppose if one tone ...
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How many syllables does Chinese have?

I'm just reading a book about China and Chinese customs from Heike Barai. She says that Chinese only has around 300 different syllables, whereas modern German has about 10 000 and I suppose English is ...
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312 views

Neutral tone and erhua (儿化) working as a word distinguisher

I know there are some words in which the use of neutral tone distinguish them the word from their non neutral equivalent, like: 东西 - dong1xi1 - from east to west 东西 - dong1xi - thing 虾子 - xia1zi3 - ...
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Chinese views on Erhua

I'm already well acquainted with erhua (儿化) in putonghua, essentially appending 儿 to the ends of words (or reading it when 儿 isn't written, as sometimes people do with 花 or 八点 etc). Many of these ...
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How is non-standard Cantonese spoken by some mainland Chinese speakers different from “standard” pronunciation?

As someone who's more or less a native Cantonese speaker, I've noticed that some speakers from mainland China (from Cantonese speaking areas) sound "weird", in that I could clearly notice a difference ...
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Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

Does anyone know how Cantonese from Macau differ from HK if there are any? Any slangs or terms used in Macanese Cantonese that is rarely used or heard in HK? Maybe some sinicised portuguese words? ...
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1answer
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Is 勺 really the phonetic component of 的?

The etymology of 的 is described here. Is this resource correct is saying that 勺 is this character's phonetic component? I ask because it doesn't seem to hint at the correct pronunciation at all. 勺 is ...
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Did ancient Chinese have tones (声调)?

This question has puzzled me since I have no training in ancient Chinese and ancient phonetics. What is puzzling me are the following facts: The tones in different regions are quite different. If ...
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3answers
197 views

Phonetic clue of characters in languages or dialects other than Mandarin?

Many characters are made up of a semantic and a phonetic part. Is the phonetic part only valid with regards to Mandarin pronounciation? Or not even for Mandarin in all cases? Or does it work with ...
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Where can I find isogloss maps for Mandarin?

It seems that questions about resources are generally accepted on the site. If not, please let me know. I was wondering if anyone knew where to find maps with isoglosses for dialects of Mandarin. I ...
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361 views

Chinese [Topolectical] IPA Placeholder: Ẓ

I've asked this elsewhere before but without much luck so I'm just gonna paste what I wrote before: I ran across "Ẓ" use some what in some old texts used as a sort-of "IPA" then to make sure I wasn'...
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6answers
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Is “biang” a phonologically possible syllable in Mandarin Chinese?

One of the local specialty favourite dishes in Shaanxi province where I am now is Biángbiáng miàn. Photo by hippietrail The hanzi character for "biáng" is usually the focus of discusssions of this ...
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3answers
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How do Chinese spell English words over the phone?

In English, if I am spelling my name for someone over the phone I can use a phonetic alphabet to ensure they get my name right. Especially for potentially ambiguous letters; d and t, b and p, c and e, ...
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Where can I find Chinese IPA transcriptions?

Since I have some experience of using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), I thought Standard Chinese transcriptions could be a good resource for practicing my pronunciation. Is such a resource ...
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1answer
395 views

Dissimilation of bilabial finals following Middle Chinese (法, 品, 凡)

Middle Chinese syllables with the shape CVP where C is a bilabial stop and P is a bilabial underwent dissimilation to CVF, where F = P[-labial]. For instance, Baxter's reconstruction of 法 is *pjop, 品 ...
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The development of rhotic vowels in Mandarin

Schuessler's reconstruction of the Old Chinese reading of 二 is *ńźi. It seems there is a correspondence between OC syllables beginning in *ń or *ńź and Mandarin syllables romanised as er. However, I'...