Consider the following sounds, all pronounced as “ma”.
When listened carefully these words are pronounced in four
rather distinct intonations, each with a totally different
are commonly used to designate the four intonations.
Listen carefully, distinguish the intonations and nuances,
be willing to produce sounds that might sound strange and
you are on your way to success.
Intonations are important in spoken Mandarin. You could give
different meanings or impressions depending on intonations.
However when spoken in sentences listeners are better able
to “guess” the meanings even though intonations may not be
accurate. Intonations are unimportant in word processing.