This post was edited by suray at 2012-7-27 15:29|
Someone from a Chinese learning forum asked me a question about mandarin tone changes in Pinyin the other day. Honestly, I was really shocked when I saw the question. I searched very hard from my limited memory of the Chinese lessons in primary school, and failed to get even a clue of tone changing. As a native speaker, I have no knowledge on this part. But when speaking Chinese in my daily life, I do change the tones of some characters in certain context. How come?
To be honest, I was really confused by those rules. I was thinking, like, “Thank God, I do not have to memorize this. I’m so glad I’m Chinese.” Seriously, I think maybe it’s too much emphasis on tones. I do not know the learners’ purpose and reasons of learning the Chinese language. But if it’s for daily communication, then they may take it easy. It seems to me that all these tone changes are naturally there when you speak a little bit faster. When we say the phrase slower, say, character by character, then all the characters remain the original tone. And others will still understand you.
In addition, I think you can get a natural sense of tone changes with more listening and speaking practices. I remember when I was in junior high school; quite a few classmates could not figure out the right stressed syllables in English words. What’s worse, some could not pronounce them right even with the phonetic symbols. Our teacher thus told us an easy way to master stress. She asked as to read the stressed syllable first, repeatedly read them, and then read the whole word. Believe it or not, it did work. The more we practiced, the more fluent we read. I understand that it’s different to learn English and Chinese. My point is for language learning, especially when learners are focusing on speaking, it’s very important to practices more (listening and speaking) and to develop a natural sense of the language.