Cantonese/Conversational Cantonese One/Lesson One
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Reading Material[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese Wikibook: Pronunciation
- Lab: Listen to the initials and finals recorded on the Cantones_sounds.zip file from chinese-lessons.com.
Notes on Pronunciation[edit | edit source]
The Tones[edit | edit source]
Labeled with normal pitch levels used (1=Lowest - 5=Highest)
- High Level or High Falling (ā or à) - Pitch: 5-5 or 5-3
- Mid Rising (á) - Pitch: 3-5
- Mid Level (a) - Pitch: 3-3
- Low Falling (àh) - Pitch: 2-1
- Low Rising (áh) - Pitch: 2-3
- Low Level (āh) - Pitch: 2-2
- The syllables that end with p, t, and k usually are considered only to have "checked" level tones. Because these syllables are so short, a rise or fall in the pitch usually cannot be detected. Sometimes the pitch does not matter, as in the word for "dish", dip6 versus dip2. Both are correct.
|Unaspirated Stop||Aspirated Stop||Nasal||Fricative||Unaspirated Affricate||Aspirated Affricate||Approximant||Lateral Approximant||Notes|
|Bilabial||b as spa||p as pat||m as mom|
|Labiodental||f as foot|
|Alveolar||d as stick||t as top||n as not||s as sleep||j as Mozart||ch as cats||l as lap|
|Palatal||y as yard|
|Velar||g as sky||k as kite||ng as singer|
|Labio-velar||gw as square||kw as quark||w as want|
|Glottal||h as hot|
|Column i||Column u||Column m||Column n||Column ng||Column p||Column t||Column k|
|m as hmm||ng as sing|
|Row aa||a as spa||aai as sigh||aau as bow||aam as palm||aan as pawn||aang||aap as opt||aat as ought||aak as talk|
|Row a||ai as kite||au as scout||am as some||an as sun||ang as lung||ap as cup||at as cut||ak as suck|
|Row e||e as Jose (es)||ei as say||em as temple||eng as penguin||ek as peck|
|Row i||iu as seal||im as seem||in as seen||ing as sing||ip as seep||it as seat||ik as sick|
|Row o||o as paw||oi as boy||ou as toe||on as scorn||ong as song||ot as hot||ok as stock|
|Row u||u as coo||ui as gooey||un as soon||ung as sung||ut as soot||uk as look|
|Row eu||eu as her||eui as deuil (fr)||eun as schön (de)||eung||eut||euk|
|Row yu||yu as tu (fr)||yun as une (fr)||yut as güte (de)|
- The final consonants p, t, and k are unreleased. This means that they are virtually silent and you hear no "puff of air" at the end of the syllable.
- The vowel quality in ing, it, and ik is not the same as in in,im, or i. It's the same difference between the English words "sing" and "seen" (or in grammar school terms a "short" vowel versus a "long" vowel).
- The finals m and ng can only be used as standalone nasal syllables.
- Vowels preceeding nasal final consonants are not nasalized, yet vowels following nasal consonants are.
Row AA Notes[edit | edit source]
- The aa sounds are a low back vowel which is slightly longer in length and different in quality from the a sounds. Be sure to note the difference in these sounds since confusing the two will change the meaning of words.
Row O Notes[edit | edit source]
- The o sound does not exist in American English, but it is in British English. It is the back rounded vowel that you hear when British people say "more" or "scorn". If you listen carefully to a British speaker, you'll notice they do not pronounce the "r" in these words. It is the quality of the "o" vowel that makes them unique to American speakers' ears.
Row Eu Notes[edit | edit source]
- The eui sound does not exist in English either but like the yu it's just a case of rounding the lips. Start by saying the e sound in "bet" and--without changing anything else!--round your lips. Note that this sound is a fusion of eu and yu, but "euyu" would look awkward.
- The final eung has a faint r sound riding on the vowel, so the number two would be pronounced somewhat like "leurng".
Row Yu Notes[edit | edit source]
- The yu sound does not exist in English but it is not hard to produce. Start by saying a long i as in "see" and--without changing anything else!--round your lips. It's a common sound in French so "think French" if you have to.
Mandarin Equivalents[edit | edit source]
- Mandarin tone 1 is like Cantonese tone 1
- Mandarin tone 2 is like Cantonese tone 2
|1 Unaspirated||2 Aspirated||3||4||5|
|3||z = j||c = ch||s|
- Note: Row 4 Retroflexes - zh, ch, sh, r, and Row 5 Palatals - j, qī, xī have no Cantonese equivalent. Also Cantonese initials - ng, y, w, gw, and kw have no Mandarin equivalents.
|Row i (y)||i(yi)=i||in||ing|
|Row u (w)||u(wu)=u|
|Row ü (yu)||ü(yu)=yu||ün=yun|
- Cantonese finals m and ng have no Mandarin equivalent.
Row aa Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese finals aau, aam, aan, aang, aap, aat, and aak have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row a Notes[edit | edit source]
- Mandarin finals -i, e, and ang have no Cantonese equivalents.
- Cantonese finals ai, au, am, ap, at, and ak have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row e Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese finals e, em, eng, and ek have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row i Notes[edit | edit source]
- Mandarin finals ia, ie, iao, iu, ian, iang, and iong have no Cantonese equivalents.
- Cantonese finals iu, im, ip, it, and ik have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row o Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese finals oi, on, ot, and ok have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row u Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese finals ui, un, ung, ut, and uk have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row eu Notes[edit | edit source]
- Cantonese finals eung, euk, eui, and eut have no Mandarin equivalents.
Row ü Notes[edit | edit source]
- Mandarin finals üe and üan have no Cantonese equivalents.
- Cantonese final yut has no Mandarin equivalent.