Pronunciation change

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Pronunciation change

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-06-16, 18:33

I know we've discussed Mandarin IPA transcriptions once, and it's hard to reach a consensus; I'm using the IPA sounds as given in the Wikipedia article on pinyin here.

In the Wikipedia, they mention that weng changes from [uɤŋ] to [ʊŋ] when an initial is added (e.g. long [lʊŋ]). I'm curious about ying though—does it change from [iɤŋ] to something else (perhaps [iŋ]?) in the same situation (e.g. ming)? And what about yong [yʊŋ]?
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Re: Pronunciation change

Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2005-06-16, 20:22

Psi-Lord wrote:I know we've discussed Mandarin IPA transcriptions once, and it's hard to reach a consensus


It's impossible, and all the previous conversations about it had shown it well. Why keep on trying then? :mrgreen:
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Re: Pronunciation change

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-06-16, 20:56

JunMing wrote:
Psi-Lord wrote:I know we've discussed Mandarin IPA transcriptions once, and it's hard to reach a consensus

It's impossible, and all the previous conversations about it had shown it well. Why keep on trying then? :mrgreen:

Because I'm not trying to reach a consensus at all. ;) I'm just trying to detect if there's indeed a difference or not¹, since I don't usually trust my ears for foreign sounds. And, in case there is, it'd be nice to know what the difference is close to (since that is something a simple romanisation system, especially one with its own internal rules, won't really tell me—pinyin zi and zong are equivalent to Wade-Giles tzu and tsung, so someone guiding himself by the looks only would be in doubt if there's any difference between the initials of both words or not).

Either way, getting to know if the differences I pointed in my first message are really there or not would already be pretty helpful.

¹ Using Wenlin, the difference sounds much bigger with the male voice than with the female voice for me. On the other hand, it's obvious even for me that the finals in si and shi are different, even if both are transcribed by [i] in IPA.
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Postby Luís » 2005-06-16, 22:45

Psi-Lord wrote:On the other hand, it's obvious even for me that the finals in si and shi are different, even if both are transcribed by [ i ] in IPA.


Different from each other or different from other words ending in -i such as li or ji?

Because to transcribe the former in IPA you don't usually use [ i ] , but rather [ʅ].

I don't really notice any difference between the finals in si and shi... :?
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Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-06-16, 22:59

Luís wrote:Different from each other or different from other words ending in -i such as li or ji?

Because to transcribe the former in IPA you don't usually use [ i ] , but rather [ʅ].

I don't really notice any difference between the finals in si and shi... :?

I'd say different from each other, but, again, it seems my ears are failing me once again. :P Either that or the Wenlin readers are confusing me—the difference in the female voice, for instance, sounds even bigger for me. :?

As for using [ i ], I actually had the Wikipedia article I mentioned in mind (and http://www.elgin.free-online.co.uk/chin_chart_ie.htm, too, though I'm not sure because it's not loading for me right now). I've seen websites using [ʅ], too, and even a couple that actually used two or three different IPA symbols for pinyin i (such as http://www.sungwh.freeserve.co.uk/chinese/bpmf.htm).

If I type , shī and in Wenlin and use the audio tool on them, I have the impression you kind of have a three-degree gradation of some sort (although the first two are much closer than when compared to ). I certainly can't tell if that's standard pronunciation or just a matter of accent, though.
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Postby Luís » 2005-06-17, 9:39

Psi-Lord wrote:If I type sī, shī and lī in Wenlin and use the audio tool on them, I have the impression you kind of have a three-degree gradation of some sort (although the first two are much closer than when compared to lī). I certainly can't tell if that's standard pronunciation or just a matter of accent, though.


Well, the final -i stands for two different sounds:

- After s, c, z, sh, ch, zh and r, it's [ʅ]
- After other initials, it's [ i ]

And it can also stand for the semi-vowel [j], naturally.

As for the first website, they actually say it's [ɨ], not [i].
With this I can agree ;) I've always thought the final in si, zi, shi, ri, etc. sounded pretty much the same as the Portuguese unstressed 'e', which is [ɨ]. But as I've never heard this apical vowel anywhere else, I just assumed it would be similar too ;)

I still don't hear any difference between the finals in si and shi though...
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Postby alois » 2005-06-17, 15:26

Luís wrote:I still don't hear any difference between the finals in si and shi though...


The only difference I hear is actually because of the consonant: in shi, it is pronounced with the tongue curled backwards, becuase of the retroflex /ʂ/, which doesn't happen in the case of si.

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Postby Luís » 2005-06-17, 21:25

Well, I was reading more about the subject and it seems that -i can stand for [ɩ] as well. However, [ɩ] and [ʅ] are allophones.

The two Mandarin vowels ɩ and ʅ in fact are one phoneme, with the former value realized after ts, ts', s and the latter after tš, tš', š.


where ts, ts', s correspond to z, c, s and tš, tš', š correspond to zh, ch, sh.

So, si would be [sɩ] and shi would be [ʂʅ].
This means Psi-Lord has a terrific pair of ears. ;)

Btw, these apical vowels don't seem to be common at all. Do you know of any other languages besides Mandarin ( and perhaps other Chinese dialects) that make use of it?
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Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2005-06-18, 14:16

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 :D).

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 (;)) :

Pinyin__Beijing__Taibei

zi______[tsɿ]_____[tsɿ]
ci______[tsʰɿ]____[tsʰɿ]
si______[sɿ]______[sɿ]

zhi_____[tʂʅ]_____[tçɿ]
chi_____[tʂʰʅ]____[tçʰɿ]
shi_____[ʂʅ]_____[çɿ]
ri______[ʐʅ]_____[lɿ]

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... ;)
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Postby alois » 2005-06-18, 15:49

Well, in fact, what I don't understand are those [ɩ] and [ʅ] characters. I had never seen them. What's their despcriptions? What abou their XSAMPA counterparts? (and yeah, I did some research before asking). Thanks.

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Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2005-06-18, 16:20

Hefestos wrote:Well, in fact, what I don't understand are those [ɩ] and [ʅ] characters. I had never seen them. What's their despcriptions? What abou their XSAMPA counterparts? (and yeah, I did some research before asking). Thanks.


I checked too, and it seems that they don't have X-SAMPA counterparts (yet).

I believe the IPA sound symbol Luis wrote and you copied, [ɩ], was written by mistake (unless Luis has sources I don't know of) when he wanted to write [ɿ].
This is indeed the IPA character to be found in these websites:
http://www.glossika.com/en/dict/phon/ipae.php
http://www.angelfire.com/pop2/pkv/ipa.html

As I explained in my post, I didn't know these symbols before reading about them. That makes sense, as sounds which I never heard in any language (I'm not saying they don't exist in other languages) are written with original symbols. Having heard these sounds, and being told through different sources they are written so, I don't see any reason not to do so. ;)

If you browse the discussion about IPA in Unicode on Wikipedia, you can learn more about them:

# ɿ - latin small reversed R with fishhook/long leg turned iota, apical dental vowel, used by Sinologists (not standard IPA), IPA spelling z̩ (z with syllabic diacritic)
# ʅ - latin small squat reversed esh (actually ɿ with retroflex leg), apical retroflex vowel used by Sinologists, ʐ̩ (syllabic ʐ)

Just below is given a link to a PDF at unicode.org containing IPA extensions and explanations about their use.
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Postby Luís » 2005-06-18, 16:43

Junming wrote:I believe the IPA sound symbol Luis wrote and you copied, [ɩ], was written by mistake (unless Luis has sources I don't know of) when he wanted to write [ɿ].


I just copied the symbol from that paragraph I quoted above, so apparently it's their mistake.

I was also looking at that discussion on Wikipedia and I was quite surprised to learn that neither of these two symbols are actually standard IPA, but are only used by sinologists.

Anyway, I think I'd prefer to use [ɿ] rather than [z̩] too! At least the former looks more like something that could represent a vowel! :P

Also, have a look at :
Image
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