22 votes

A Complex Chinese Character

This is actually not one character, but a stylistic conglomeration of the characters in the phrase 招財進寶, meaning "ushering in wealth and prosperity". The characters 財 and 寶 end up being represented ...
user avatar
  • 3,986
19 votes
Accepted

Did ancient Chinese have tones (声调)?

Linguists divide pre-modern Chinese broadly into two periods: Old Chinese and Middle Chinese. I wanted to preface my answer by noting that Bernhard Karlgren used the term "Ancient Chinese" to refer ...
user avatar
  • 3,986
18 votes
Accepted

b and p, d and t, k and g etc. in English and Cantonese

Voicing and Aspiration Stop consonants can fall into the following categories (roughly): Voiced stops: Vocal chords start vibrating before stop is released. E.g., English "b" as in "bat" (/bæt/ in ...
user avatar
15 votes

A Complex Chinese Character

For people to understand better...
user avatar
  • 1,225
15 votes

Why is Russia translated to 俄罗斯(E Luo Si)?

“俄罗斯”不是从英文或俄文来的。可能是从蒙古文Oros来的。 在中国元明朝时称俄罗斯族为“罗斯”或“罗刹国”.当时蒙古族人用蒙语拼读俄文“ROCIA”时,在“R”前面加一个元音.因此,“ROCIA”就成了“OROCCIA”.满清政府时,蒙语的“OROCCIA”转译成汉语时,就成了“俄罗斯”. The name of "Éluósī" does not come from English or ...
user avatar
  • 151
15 votes
Accepted

Why e is pronounced differently in de (的, 地) and ye (也,夜)?

Systems designed to represent pronunciation and to be practical at the same time don't have a 1:1 mapping between spoken sounds and written symbols. Or in other words, each sound can be represented ...
user avatar
  • 2,930
12 votes

Is "biang" a phonologically possible syllable in Mandarin Chinese?

So time for an update… If you want to play by the books, biang is not a permissible syllable. If you are concerned with what comes out of a speaker’s mouth, syllables like nim (contraction of 你們) are ...
user avatar
  • 265
12 votes
Accepted

Pronunciation of 要

In most cases, we cannot pick one of different pronunciations arbitrarily. The reason is very simple. If we can, we do not have to pronounce differently. Right? DICT.TW 線上字典 can give you the commnon ...
user avatar
  • 5,846
12 votes
Accepted

What is the Chinese version of いろは?

I don't know of an example where every possible Chinese syllable is listed. I doubt such a text exists, because even without counting tones, there are over 400 hundred distinct syllables in Standard ...
user avatar
  • 405
11 votes

How to pronounce the “的” in “他妈的”?

The only correct answer is "TA MA DE". This is the equivalent version of "F**K" in Chinese. I never hear people pronounce as "Di". Thinking it in other way, it will be too soft and feminine if it'...
user avatar
  • 111
11 votes
Accepted

Bigrams ending in third tone where first syllable is second tone vs. third tone

There have been conflicting claims on whether the second tone and the "raised third tone" are distinct, but according to Jerry Norman's 1988 book, Chinese, "Perceptual tests done by Dreher and Lee (...
user avatar
  • 4,315
11 votes
Accepted

Yinwei or Yinvei? 因为

/v/ is not an initial found in MSM. The initial /v/, though, is often found in Northern Mandarin and its branches. In fact, it can still be found, even, in distant branches like Sichuanese. If you ...
user avatar
  • 34k
11 votes

Pronunciation difference between 医生 and 一生

In this case, tone sandi plays a role. I would pronounce 医生 as yi1 sheng1 and 一生 as yi4 sheng1. That way we can easily differentiate them.
user avatar
  • 23.2k
10 votes
Accepted

pronunciation: j/q/x/y + ün

First and foremost, I think it's very dangerous to try to approximate Mandarin sounds with parts of English words, partly because we all pronounce English slightly differently, and partly because some ...
user avatar
  • 2,930
10 votes
Accepted

When saying Japanese place names like "秋叶原", do people always use the respective Chinese pronunciation?

You're right. Chinese people read Kanji using their Chinese pronunciations. For Chinese people who don't speak Japanese, they have probably only learned 'tokyo' from the English word and they don't ...
user avatar
  • 14.7k
10 votes
Accepted

跟您请教一个字(Do you know this Chinese word?)

臵 (U+81F5) [ gé | ㄍㄜˊ ] From 《康熙字典》: 《集韻》「各額」切,音「格」。與「𢓜」同。「至」也。 Same as 𢓜. It means "to arrive" or "to go to". 又《六書原》徦,俗作臵。 The original or formal form of 徦. 徦 (U+5FA6) [ jiǎ | ㄐㄧㄚˇ ] 1. 至;到。(to ...
user avatar
  • 5,846
10 votes
Accepted

How did Chinese people know in the past the pronunciation of words?

The pronunciation of characters was glossed using the Fanqie (反切) system, which uses two existing characters whose pronunciations are known to determine the pronunciation of the unknown character. ...
user avatar
  • 21.1k
9 votes

Is the ''a'' in ''ta'' pronounced as the ''a'' in ''tan'' or the ''a'' in ''tang''?

Depending on the speaker, these spellings represent either two or three sounds. The short answer is that for standard pronunciation, you can treat the vowel sound in ta and tan the same way, but the a ...
user avatar
  • 2,930
9 votes
Accepted

Strange pronunciation of 非常

I like your use of 飛揚 here. While it is comical or cultural to use an otherwise unrelated word to signify an elision – e.g., consider 醬子 in place of 這樣子 in Taiwanese Mandarin internet slang – if you ...
user avatar
  • 5,400
8 votes

Pinyin "h" sound, pronunciation

In standard Mandarin, the pinyin h is pronounced as [x] in IPA, like ch in Scottish English loch -- yes, you're right that there's a tiny g, because [x] is a velar consonant. However, in south China, ...
user avatar
  • 2,119
8 votes
Accepted

Character 瞓: where did the pronunciations come from?

How was it pronounced in older times (i.e. Middle Chinese)? I haven't found a record of 瞓 in classical Chinese, but since 瞓 and 训 are both read as fan in Cantonese, I'll take 训 instead. It is read ...
user avatar
  • 4,492
8 votes
Accepted

A Complex Chinese Character

Welcome more questions Thomas. Very good answer above. It is a Spring Couplet 挥春/揮春. 招財進寶 is an auspicious saying to wish families more wealth and treasure. Chinese paste this on the front door or ...
user avatar
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 ...
user avatar
  • 4,009
8 votes
Accepted

How to pronounce 廿卅卌 in Chinese?

In most Cantonese speakers I know, 廿 is still a colloquial item of vocabulary, replaced with 二十 in usual formal writing; but 廿 remains a very common alternative, for counting as well as enumerating. ...
user avatar
  • 5,608
8 votes
Accepted

Where can I find a list of (acceptable) 连读 words?

Some have been crystallized in the spelling: - 别 < 不要 (when used as a negative imperative) - 甭 < 不用 (it's even explicit in the character!) - 啦 < 了啊 - 这/那 as zhei/nei < 这一/那一 (zhe yi / na ...
user avatar
  • 592
8 votes
Accepted

Where did "Chinchew" come from?

泉州,簡稱泉或鯉,又稱刺桐城、清源、溫陵。 Although 清 can be transliterated as chin, it does not seem to be the reason. Quanzhou, formerly known as Chinchew. The Postal Map name of the city was (note: should be "is") "...
user avatar
  • 1,394

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible