22 votes

How many syllables does Chinese have?

I took the CEDICT file and wrote a script on it. The file has 113k dictionary entries, so it covers a very large portion of the Chinese vocabulary. There are 1522 different pinyin syllables in CEDICT, ...
  • 7,118
11 votes
Accepted

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

This is a classic problem with defining phonemes. Looking for "complementary distribution" of sounds does not uniquely determine a phonological analysis. In Mandarin (I'll use pinyin here), ...
11 votes

How many syllables does Chinese have?

As Maroon points out in a comment, you have to say which dialect you are asking about. This answer is for Standard Chinese, aka Mandarin. It also depends on what sort of stuff you include. Counting ...
  • 4,315
11 votes
Accepted

Is 勺 really the phonetic component of 的?

Modern Chinese has underwent many pronunciation changes since characters were first invented and phonetic components often reflect words as they were pronounced in Old Chinese rather than modern ...
  • 3,996
8 votes
Accepted

Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

A quick browse on Google Scholar yields a few results. Macau Cantonese appears to be intermediate between Zhongshan Cantonese and Hong Kong Cantonese. There is only one rising tone derived from ...
  • 5,668
8 votes
Accepted

Help with pronouncing 道 precisely

As a Mandarin native speaker I pronounce 道 exactly same as 到,稻。 I pronounce the initial d exactly same as in dog or dad. I also pronounce t exactly in the same way for stop. The native English ...
  • 4,049
8 votes

What is the right spelling, 乌兹别克 or 乌孜别克?

1934年,盛世才召開新疆第二次民眾大會,確定烏孜別克族為正式族名,把國外的烏孜別克族依然寫作烏茲別克。 In 1934, 盛世才 held the second public meeting in Xinjiang, determining 乌孜别克 (wū zī bié kè) as the official ethnic name, and the foreign Uzbek still ...
  • 5,846
7 votes

Is Cantonese a better choice in studying classic of poetry (詩經)?

Cantonese might preserve more sound distinctions than Mandarin, but they're both derived (as are most, though not all, modern dialects) from Middle Chinese. The current consensus, arrived at slowly ...
7 votes
Accepted

Why does Mandarin Chinese have a smaller inventory of unique syllables?

From San Duanmu, The Phonology of Standard Chinese: While Middle Chinese (about AD 600) had over 3,000 syllables (including tonal distinctions), modern Standard Chinese (SC) has just over 1,300. Thus,...
  • 2,132
6 votes
Accepted

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

Are there any erhua-ed words that has a different meaning from the not "erhualess" word? Yes, many, categorized as follows: Nominalization (convert to noun), e.g. 盖 (to cover) -> 盖儿 (lid), 尖 (pointy)...
  • 14.8k
6 votes
Accepted

How to read these vowel diagrams?

In pronouncing any given vowel, the recorded frequency spectrum will show distinct amplitude peaks (of the frequency spectrum). These peaks are called formants, and it is commonly accepted that the ...
  • 21.1k
6 votes
Accepted

Pronunciation of 什么

Zhang and Yang (2007:157–165) classifies consonantal assimilation (輔音同化) in Mandarin into three types: Progressive assimilation (前化後, lit. prior converts latter) Regressive assimilation (後化前, lit. ...
  • 5,425
6 votes
Accepted

Reconstruction of Old Chinese "少"

Baxter–Sagart's (2014:135) view on *s.t-: Preinitial *s- had a range of effects on unaspirated stops and affricates . . . Old Chinese *s.t-, but not *s.tʕ-, evolves to MC sy- (plausibly [ɕ]), ...
  • 5,425
5 votes

Chinese views on Erhua

Disagree on FortCpp's answer. Surely Beijing dialect is not putonghua, none dialect is considered as putonghua if you put it this way. I'd say Beijing dialect is very close(if not the most) to ...
  • 319
5 votes
Accepted

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

Voiceless: Pinyin h is standardly the voiceless velar fricative [x], although it is often written [χ] for some reason — Chinese IPA developed its own transcriptional traditions, for instance the use ...
5 votes

Can Chinese words start with a vowel?

There are some Mandarin Chinese Pinyin sequences which consistently start with a vowel. As mentioned in the comments, these have a Pinyin representation which starts with y or w: 義, Pinyin yì, IPA /i⁵...
  • 21.1k
5 votes
Accepted

Can Chinese words start with a vowel?

The only cases I can think about are: 安 an 饿 e 耳 er 啊 a o 哦 ou 欧 ai 爱 ao 奥 en 恩 All examples may have multiple cases under different tones
4 votes

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

Here is another input. I learnt some Chinese linguistics in a course in university. In my opinion, with historical evidence, they could be different phonemes. In my following text, IPA is used in ...
4 votes

Are there any pre-modern/non-romanization examples of attempts to alphabetize Chinese?

Yes, there was such an attempt during the Yuan dynasty. The 'Phags-pa script was created for writing languages that were under control of Yuan, including Chinese: The 'Phags-pa script (Mongolian: ...
  • 1,650
4 votes
Accepted

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

these're codified verse, each character represent a "value" of particular "property", 廣韻 is the origin. 逼 曾開三入職幫 逼 the character looked up 曾 one of sixteen 韻攝 開 開口音 (開 for 開口音, or 合 for ...
  • 13.5k
4 votes

Chinese views on Erhua

It is different from place to place, and there is no standard. Normally, it won't appear in official announcements, laws, scientific publications, etc. But it is widely used in daily life. For native ...
4 votes

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

Does the Beijing-R mean anything? I happened to have lunch the other day with some university students, a couple of Guangdongers and a Shanghainese, in one of those Rolex-Louis Vuitton malls that ...
  • 34.8k
4 votes
Accepted

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

Voice-Onset Time As you probably already know, the distinction between voiced vs unvoiced-unaspirated vs unvoiced-aspirated is the relative timing of articulation and voicing (called voice-onset time ...
4 votes
Accepted

Taiwanese Guoyu vs. Putonghua 阴平/阳平 tone split?

In this case, all of the characters were not even 平声 at all in Middle Chinese, but were all 入声 instead [Wiktionary's IPA]: 夹 (夾) /kˠɛp̚/ 扎 /t͡ʃˠɛt̚/ 击 (擊) /kek̚/ 息 /sɨk̚/ All of ...
  • 5,668
4 votes

How do Chinese call the sound "i"

In phonology, the "clean i" sound, IPA /i/, is called "close front unrounded vowel", which, in Chinese is called: 闭前不圆唇元音 The "dirty i" instead, as I learned it, should ...
  • 5,386
3 votes

Chinese views on Erhua

I would like to add that there are some words in which 儿化 (erhua) optional and other words in which it is necessary. For example, earlier today I heard a Chinese person tell his friend that he had to ...
3 votes

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

I have put together an eleven-page Excel spreadsheet listing all Mandarin syllables. If there is any interest, I'll speed up my proofreading and make it generally available. Comments are welcome. My ...

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