Archive for Pronunciation

Latin Caesar –> Tibetan Gesar –> Xi Jinpingian Sager

From Shawn Zhang's Twitter account:

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Anti-MSM sentiment in Sichuan

Photograph of a slide shown during a lecture at a university in Sichuan:

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PyeongChang: how do you say that in English?

Should we say the name of the host city of the 2018 winter Olympics the way the Koreans pronounce it [pʰjʌŋtɕʰaŋ]?  Or should we say it more in accord with English phonetics?

The following article by Jane Han spells out the controversy clearly:

"NBC, read my lips – it's PyeongChang" (The Korea Times [2/18/18)

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Using Chinese nonstandard characters to talk cute

Nikita Kuzmin told me about a trend among young Chinese to exchange certain characters with other phonetically close characters in their Internet writings, so that the words sound more "cute".

Here are some examples of such substitutions:

jiègè 介個 —  zhège 這個 ("this")
pényǒu 盆友 — péngyǒu 朋友 ("friend")
nánpiào 男票 — nán péngyǒu 男朋友 ("boyfriend")
xièxiè 蟹蟹 — xièxiè 謝謝 ("thanks")
kāisēn 開森 — kāixīn 開心 ("happy")
suìjué/jiào 碎觉 — shuìjiào 睡覺 ("sleep")

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Giant Panda Xiang Xiang or Japanese diplomat Sugiyama?

A couple of weeks ago, a strange language misunderstanding occurred during the Regular Press Conference of the PRC foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, on December 19, 2017.

During the press conference, a Japanese journalist raised a question in English. He asked:  "Giant panda Xiang Xiang who has traveled to Japan made its formal debut in a Tokyo zoo today. What is your comment  on this?  What influence will this have on China-Japan relations?"

Maybe it was because of his strong Japanese accent or the noise at the time, Hua Chunying was not able to follow him, especially at the beginning of the question.  She misunderstood to whom he was referring and thought it was "Shan Shan" (杉山 — pronouncing that name à la chinoise), a Japanese official. Therefore, she answered with standard diplomatic language. Not until a Chinese journalist pointed out her misinterpretation did Hua manage to move on and make it right.

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Pitch in Korean dialects

From Krista Ryu:

Recently on the internet, there was an interesting photo posted that pointed out the unique feature of Southeastern dialect of Korean:  tones (some scholars call it pitch, as it is different from the tones of languages such as Mandarin).

The internet post had the following photo and a question: "is it true that Seoulites (people from Seoul / users of standard Korean) cannot pronounce these distinctly?"

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Teacher is always honest

When I began studying Mandarin over half a century ago, I very quickly developed a pet phrase  (kǒutóuchán 口頭禪 / 口头禅):  lǎoshí shuō 老實說 / 老实说 ("to tell the truth; honestly"), After I married one of the best Mandarin teachers on earth (Chang Li-ching) several years later, she corrected me when I said my favorite phrase.  She told me that I made it sound like lǎoshī shuō 老師說 / 老师说 ("teacher says").

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Stress, emphasis, pause, and meaning in Mandarin

In "Mandarin Janus sentences" (11/4/17), there arose the question of whether duōshǎo 多少 ("how many") and duō shǎo 多少 ("how few") are spoken differently.  I'm very glad that, in the comments, Chris Button recognizes that Sinitic languages can have stress.  (The same is doubtless true of other tonal languages).

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How to pronounce the name of the president of Catalonia

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Mnozil Brass speak Mandarin

Listen to these Austrian fellows introduce themselves in Mandarin (from around :50 to around 2:00):

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Tonal variation and reading pronunciation

From Zeyao Wu:

I am intrigued by how the pronunciation of my nickname changed when I moved to Guangzhou [VHM: in the far south, formerly Canton] from Dongbei [VHM: the Northeast, formerly Manchuria].

In Dongbei, all my relatives and my friends called me Yáoyao 瑶瑶, with the second tone of the second syllable becoming neutral. [VHM: the base tone of yáo 瑶 ("precious jade") is second tone]

When I moved to Guangzhou, my friends call me Yǎoyáo 瑶瑶. It seems that this sort of pronunciation is not standard. I think Cantonese speak in this way because they pronounce Mandarin with the tones of Cantonese.

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Marmay tay

Just got off the phone with my 2nd-grader granddaughter, Samira.  She was in her dad's truck out on some errand with him.  She had a new cell phone and was excited to talk to me on it.

Her dad got out to pick up some things he had left behind at a store.  Thereupon Samira started to tell me about her grand plan to do housework for the neighbors so that she could save up enough money to buy a "marmay tay".

"What is a 'marmay tay', honey?" I asked

She tried to explain, but no matter what she said, I just couldn't grasp what a "marmay tay" was.

Finally, my son got back to the truck.

"Tom, what is this 'marmay tay' that Samira wants to buy?"

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Ask Language Log: How to pronounce "Antifa"?

From P.D.:

Long time reader, first time caller, etc. etc. As an armchair linguistics fan and someone who gets his news primarily online rather than from cable news, I've been wondering how one ought to go about pronouncing the word "antifa." I'd like to discuss current events with friends without putting my foot in it, like the friend I once had who pronounced "archive" as though it were something you might chop up and put on a bagel with some cream cheese.

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