This topic grew to be quite interesting (I'm not saying it wasn't, hehe, but I was afraid it might become another place to fight about one's supposed knowledge - fortunately I notice that everyone is being quite modest, which pleases me lots
I will not pretend that I know everything about Chinese phonology, or that I know well how to transcribe all the different sounds myself. Plus, as I never encountered them in other languages, my choice based on what I heard would be completely random. Like Luis' last post, I checked sources before writing.
From my experience, I met, and still meet on a regular basis, lots of Chinese speakers from various origins all around the country. I stayed in different places within the country as well, and I could notice by myself that many sounds in the regional variants of modern Standard Chinese are very different (keep in mind that I am not talking about the dialects, such a debate would not have its place here, but about the way the standard is spoken).
Without being able to codify them myself, these differences are pretty clear to my mind.
Base on these observations, here is what I could get from that 'lovely pro-Taiwanese' website glossika.com (;)) :
These are the regional pronunciations of the standard (or should I stay: the standardS
), and not attempts to romanise the dialects. Even if Standard Chinese is up to some point based on the Beijing dialects, let's keep in mind these are two different things.
As far as I know, these are observations collected from the way people really speak. If Standard Chinese is a political creation (in Beijing as well as in Taibei), no committee went as far as using IPA to set the "correct pronunciation of the language", but instead more or less told the people: "look at these people, they are from the North, they speak what is going to be our new lingua franca
, imitate their pronunciations."
I strongly believe the 'guoyu' phonology in Taibei is not the conscious result of a decision, but more the consequence of an implant of northern dialects in an area where most of its original phonemes did not exist, thus cases like "ru" being pronounced exactly like "lu".
I never went myself to Taibei, but from what I heard, this transcription fits with my idea. Based on it, I would say that the pronunciation of "zhi", "chi", "shi" in most of the southern part of China would be transcribed this way. With the notable exception of "ri", being pronounced [lɿ] in the Wu speaking area, in the Min speaking area, but [zɿ] in south-western China (that would be roughly, Sichuan, Hubei, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Hunan to some extent). Note that some areas in the south (without giving details) confuse pinyin "n" and "l", and others "l" and "r".
(Of course, you will meet in all areas of China people who speak the "northern variant", these regional differences are narrowing now).
I am finally getting to what I wanted to say: with such regional variants, there are many interpretations on what the standard exactly, and whether a given person pronounces it according to the standard may vary from one judge to another. The preferred version is indeed the one of the Beijing dialect, but this is not as widespread as it might seem.
Since you all seem to have Wenlin (I wonder how
), let's take examples: the male reader reads the sounds in a good standard fashion, but the female reader, on the opposite, even if she is trying very hard and gets a relative success, doesn't reach the male reader's degree as long as retroflex consonants are concerned.
This can lead to many reflexions. If we get [ ʅ ] after [tʂ], [tʂʰ], [ʂ] and [ʐ], is it because the sound should be [ ɿ ] but is impossible given its incompatibility with these consonant compounds? Let's think about it...