Hi, I'm Fame Ketover of Lenguin.com and this is Mandarin Chinese. In this lesson we're going to look at how how Pinyin abbreviates certain sounds. Oh, oh, I got this one. Nine Inch Nails - Gooey - Crossing Oh no??
Alright, so as we move along, there's going to be some spellings that don't seem to match up with their pronunciations.
For example, check these out. Listen again and notice that they rhyme.
Each of these syllables clearly has the vowel sound "uh", but the last one is spelled without an E. It almost seems like it should be spelled like this. HUEN
Alright, now listen to these. Again, they rhyme
Alright, so it wasn't pronounced "gooey". To get what the speaker said, it seems like it would have been spelled this way. GUEI Since the "A" sound is spelled EI.
Let's check out one more set of these. Listen again. Except for the tone, they rhyme.
This one seems like it should be spelled LIOU, since the sound O is spelled OU. But the O has been left out.
So we've been treating these spellings simply as abbreviations, but they make kinda make phonetic sense. It just so happens that vowels often have a slightly different quality in the first and second tone than in the third and fourth, and in each of these cases the abbreviated spelling is suggestive of the first and second tone's pronunciation.
For example, listen to these pairs of names.
You might agree that you hear something approaching the simple U sound after the semivowel in the first and second tone names, so that the spelling without the O might be better for both of them.
Listen again and notice that the pairs don't quite rhyme. Now listen to the speaker read down the column. This way you may better hear the rhyme.
Now, let's look at another kind of abbreviation. Listen and notice how they rhyme.
So, clearly that is not to be read as "Moe". The semivowel U is not written after consonants involving the lips: B, P, M and F, since the lips are already in a position to suggest rounding themselves for the semivowel even though it's not written.
Let's move on and learn a new vowel. For those that have studied German, you should already be familiar with the U with two dots over it. Say hello to U umlaut.
The reason for including the first two names is that the new vowel written U umlaut combines features of the vowels written I and U. It has roughly the tongue position of the vowel sound E and roughly the lip position of the vowel sound "OO". If you pronounce a steady E sound and then round your lips into an OO position without moving your tongue you'll get the Ü sound.
Listen. See if you can do it. Move your lips but not your tongue. The other way to get the Ü position is to start in the OO position and then to move your tongue into the E position without moving your lips. Try it by moving your tongue and not your lips.
Now let's go back and try to repeat those names. For the last name have your tongue bunched forward as if for E and your lips rounded as if for OO.
Alright, good. Now look these names. The first name actually consists of the U umlaut vowel by itself. But notice that it's written with the initial Y. The next three have the U umlaut vowel reduced to semivowel status, again with Y written in the initial position. Notice that what follows the semivowel in the last three is familiar. Try repeating after the speaker.
So, let's compare these new combinations starting with the U umlaut semivowel with familiar combinations starting with semivowels you already know.
Listen for the rhymes or near rhymes. Repeat them now.
Notice in the first pair that the letter E is pronounced [eh]. In other words, the letter E has the sound value [eh] after both semivowels pronounced with the tongue in the E position. The only other time it has this sound value is when it is followed by the sound value E, in the dipthong spelled EI and pronounced A.
The second pair of names shows how some speakers rhyme the names.
We've put the umlaut dots over the U's here to distinguish it from regular U, but the Pinyin system does not always write it that way. After a Y, the U couldn't stand for anything but the U umlaut sound, and so Pinyin doesn't bother to add the two dots. The same goes after the palatal consonants written J, Q, and X. Since these consonants pronounced with the tongue in the E position occur only before vowels with the tongue in the E position namely E and Ü or their semivowel equivalents, you know that a U after a J, Q, or X, must mean U umlaut. To help you out though, we'll write the umlaut for you every time in the early part of this course.
The only time Pinyin does write the umlaut accent marks is after two initial consonants: L and N. This is because after these consonants, both regular U and U umlaut can follow. And so the umlaut has to be written to distinguish U umlaut from regular U.
So far, we've only had two final consonant sounds, the ones written N and NG. We've held back one final consonant sound that has a rather special status in the Chinese sound system, final R. There's a sense in which final R only belongs in syllables spelled ER, such as the number 2.
There's nothing hard about final R for most Americans. You can hear something very much like Chinese ER in the proverb, "To err is human". Try repeating after the speaker.
In addition to syllables in the shape ER, there are many cases in Standard Chinese, where words have endings consisting of R alone, with the R attaching itself to the last syllable. This happens more often in some dialects of Standard Chinese than in others. In Beijing you will hear this often.
Listen to the word for "where".
The Chinese writing system treats this final R as a separate ER syllable, although the character is sometimes abbreviated and reduced in size. Sometimes the basic form of a syllable is changed considerably when R is attached.
Here's an example. The second syllable you're going to hear is the first syllable plus the R ending. Listen again, and notice that the N drops out when the R is added and also that the vowel sound changes.
Here's another example. Again the second syllable is the first syllable plus the R ending. Listen again, and notice that the NG sound drops out when the R is added, but leaves a nasal quality in the vowel and also vowel sound [uh] sneaks in.
We wont' go further into these R finals now because in most cases the pronunciation is simple and is obvious from the spelling and because the cases where it is not, are better handled on a case by case basis.
Well, that's the end of this lesson. Remember to head over to Lenguin.com to do the exercises. That's Lenguin as in Lenguin the Penguin. Thanks for watching!
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