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INTONATION IN CHINESE PRONUNCIATION

One of the difficulties in speaking Mandarin is that there are up to four intonations of the same word.  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 meaning.

First intonation:          Mother

Second Intonation:   Hemp

Third Intonation:        Horse

Fourth Intonation:      Scold

The symbols 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.

More information could be found in chapter three of the book

For more information please contact the author