Yesterday morning in class, I had all the students from China pronounce a word I wrote on the board — gē'ermen 哥儿们 ("pals; buddies; brothers") — and everybody was astonished to hear with their own ears the enormous differences in the way the word was pronounced, even though each student thought they were speaking standard Mandarin. This was not due to dialectal variation — because when I asked a few of the students to pronounce the word according to their home topolect, then it would come out in a quite different manner — but simply to individual differences in the realization of gē'ermen 哥儿们 in Mandarin.
Before listing the different pronunciations uttered in class yesterday morning, I should explain a few things about this expression.
First of all, the constituent morphemes are gē 哥 ("older brother"), ér 儿 (erization), and men 们 (plural signifier).
Second, even though the word is plural in form, it can be used in the singular to refer to oneself, e.g., gē'ermen bāng nǐ bàn 哥儿们帮你办 ("I'll help you do it").
Third, it is also written as gēmenr 哥们儿 and gēmen 哥们.
Fourth, it is very common to prefix gē'ermen 哥儿们 with dà 大 ("big") or xiǎo 小 ("little"), as in this strange Facebook message: 跨越大哥儿们在means i luv my mum in chinease… GOod morning and happy mothers day :P :D -Ross
Here's the list of variant pronunciations spoken in my class on "Language, Script, and Society in China" yesterday morning:
I have to add one version which I once heard from a rough fellow in Beijing: gērAmon (the capital A indicates strong emphasis).
[Thanks to Brendan O'Kane for faithfully recording the individual pronunciations]