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Regional Differences in Pronunciation Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Pronunciation

Today I’m going to discuss some regional differences in pronunciation and how people generally characterize accents in China.  Here are some broad differences between north and south.

Between north and south, 知 zhi1 吃 chi1 and 是 shi4 all lose the “h” component, leading them to sound like zi1, ci1, and si4, respectively.  This change also applies to 什么 (shen2me – what).  The consonants l and n are interchanged, so a word like 能neng2 may sound like 冷 leng3.

儿化音 or the “er”ification of words.  In the north, many words have an 儿 or “er” sound following them, while the final consonant of the word is removed- e.g. 大门儿 da4me2r – large gate

With this new knowledge, I hope you get more insight into where someone is from just by hearing him/her speak.  Alternatively, maybe you can try altering your pronunciation and seeing if people guess you’re from the north or the south!

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  1. Jennifer:

    Is it aggressive to say I’ll write it again?I’ll write it again: I’ve bohgut (have bohgut) a handwriting system for Macs. Therefore I don’t need any of the other systems. And yes: Cantonese uses different characters from Mandarin Chinese ( official Chinese) and I’ve tried a lot of systems and handwriting is the best. Can’t see where the bite is. Please point it out to me.

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