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19 votes
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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 ...
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12 votes
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What's the pronunciation of 不在乎

Dictionaries, in general, will not incorporate tone sandhi rules into their pronunciations (of which Mandarin has quite a few) Wikipedia says the following: Mandarin Chinese Mandarin features several ...
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11 votes

What's the pronunciation of 不在乎

The correct one should be bu2 zai4 hu. Unless there is an emphasis for "NOT" CARE, a 4th tone bu4 is then used, but I rarely hear that as a native speaker. Let's review the tone change rule for 不, A ...
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11 votes
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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 (...
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10 votes
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Cantonese sandhi

Modern Cantonese is generally considered not to have tone sandhi (in Chinese, 變調, but also more specifically 連續變調), that is to say, changes in the tonal values when in certain phonetic contexts. ...
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8 votes

How can we translate the term "tone sequence"?

Only the first one is correct (聲調輪廓), as a jargon used in linguistics. The second one is a (bad) word-for-word translation of tone (音調) + contour (曲綫).
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8 votes
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Is there research regarding the link between Chinese tones and musical intervals?

五度标记法 (five level tone mark, labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, roughly do re mi fa so)is similar to intervals. It was invented by Zhao Yuanren in the 1920s. It's considered inaccurate, but almost always, at ...
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7 votes

Is "一“ in 一线城市 first or second tone?

一 is First tone here, meaning first class, the best. Other examples: 一等奖, first prize; 第一, first.
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7 votes
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On Linux, how do I output Chinese Characters (not pinyin) using tones in the input

Try using Terra-Pinyin (地球拼音) which runs on rime (中州韻) which runs on either ibus or fcitx. It allows you to input using "-" to represent 1st tone, "/" to represent 2nd tone, ">" to represent 3rd tone, ...
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7 votes
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How are consecutive neutral tones pronounced? What are the pitch levels?

Zhang and Yang (2007:97) has an interesting remark on consecutive neutral tones within certain three-character words (三字組詞): 輕聲若同時出現在三字組詞的後兩個音節上,第二個音節的輕聲調型要根據第一音節的聲調變化,如同二字組的輕聲音節;但第三個輕聲音節一律都讀得短低,調型向下,...
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7 votes

Is the number 4 really considered unlucky because it sounds similar to the word for "death"?

"...if 四 is "unlucky" merely because it sounds "similar" to 死, what makes it especially different from those 53 characters?" My speculation, and too long for the Comment ...
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6 votes

tones when singing a chinese song?

Simple answer: I’ve been asked a number of times: if Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, what happens when you sing in Mandarin? Well, the answer is the melody takes over and the tones are ignored. ...
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6 votes
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Tones in Cantonese: 6 or 9?

From a practical learner's point of view, treating the checked "tones" as shorter, closed syllables that carry the same tone as as tones 1, 3, 6 (and 2 in changed tone) would be enough. In modern ...
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6 votes
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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)...
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6 votes
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Pinyin to Chinese characters

I suggest that you shouldn't do this. Chinese characters cannot be faithfully constructed backwards from a tone+syllable combination -- the mapping only goes one way (and even then, sometimes ...
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6 votes

Mandarin Neutral Tone: Tone Value?

The neutral tone doesn't have a fixed value; it's phonetic realization is largely determined by the preceding tone: Also called fifth tone or zeroth tone (in Chinese 轻声 [輕聲] qīng shēng, literal ...
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6 votes
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In which pitches do I pronounce several first tones in a sequence?

According to some researches there is a declination effect (pitch lowering) in Mandarin Chinese. Fundamental frequency (F0) of a speach is decreasing as a speach goes on, with greater downsteps of ...
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6 votes
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How modern Chinese singing works if Chinese has tones

Short answer: Simply speaking, remove all the original tones of each character and follow the tune of the music. Yes it is hard to recognize if you never read the lyrics before, even for native ...
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6 votes
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Do native English speakers naturally speak in the 4th tone?

I don't know how native English speakers feel, but my perception is that words like "hard" "luck" are close to the fourth tone when you read them alone. An interesting fact is that even the tones are ...
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6 votes

What is the meaning of the tone numbers shown in Wiktionary's Mandarin pronunciation?

They represent tone height on a scale from 1-5, with one being the lowest and 5 the highest. Thus, a full third tone would be transcribed as 214 (starting quite low, falling, then rising up again), ...
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5 votes

Did ancient Chinese have tones (声调)?

As an addendum, two brief comments regarding how tones are reflected in the languages that borrowed a lot of vocabulary from Chinese: According to the Wikipedia page on ‘Sino-Xenic pronunciations’, “[...
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5 votes
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What happens with tone sandhi with consecutive third tones, e.g. wo3 hen3 hao3?

The classic sentence for multiple tone 3s is “Old Li buys good wine.” 老 李 買 好 酒 In citation form they are all tone 3s, of course: lao3 Li3 mai3 hao3 jiu3 Which ones ...
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5 votes
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Does Cantonese have a falling tone?

Standard Cantonese's 陽平 tone is definitely pronounced with a falling contour (21). Modern Cantonese Phonology by Robert S. Bauer, p. 144 appears to acknowledge, but did not find, a low-level contour ...
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5 votes
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Mandarin Neutral Tone: Tone Value?

"Neutral" tone is not really a tone, and shouldn't be used for comparison with lexical tones. Jerry Norman (Chinese, p. 148) calls syllables with neutral tone 'weakly stressed syllables' to avoid ...
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