Friday, July 13, 2007

in AMERICA

So, I'm back in the US for about three weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to recuperate from China and cool down and refresh the Chinese speaking portion of my brain (which during the last few weeks in Chengdu had melted and started leaking out my nose).

I'd also like to register and finish the design for my new site, which will hopefully be up by the end of the summer. My plans at present are to have separate sections for the blog and the fake news, and hopefully, eventually, a section with longer, article style posts.

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Anyway . . .

Off the plane my first impressions are that America is sunny and full of air that is not composed mostly of solids. I like it here but I know already that I'll be very much ready to return to Chengdu by the end of the trip. Why? 1. The girlfriend 2. The food (god damn it sichuan food really is the best on the planet) 3. All that Chinese (it tires me out, but it sure is useful) 4. The job (well, really just the fact that I earn money, and actually have much more purchasing power in China than I used to in the US)

Needless to say, there will be no Sichuanhua Primer updates for the next three weeks.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

sichuanhua primer--四川话入门--sǐcuáhhuǎ rǔmen*--part 2: pronunciation

Sichuanhua Primer

四川话入门

sǐcuáhhuǎ rǔmen*

from longleggedfly

by k.m.m.

Part 2 Pronunciation

KEY PRONOUNCIATION DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SICHUANHUA AND PUTONGHUA

This is the part where most casual readers will throw up their hands, say “what the fuck!?” and give up. Sichuanhua does, indeed, sound quite different from putonghua, with numerous consonants, vowels, and diphthongs changed, as well as a few irregularities in pronunciation and just general strangeness—even asking “what” and “how” are different.

Well, there’s no choice but to deal with it now, at the very beginning. But don’t despair. Once you have mastered the first three portions of this primer, you will find that grammar, vocabulary, and syntax are largely consistent with putonghua. Despite the rather numerous changes in pronunciation, if you are exposed to these differences on a daily basis you will very quickly adapt to them.

(Of course, if you don’t feel like putting up with the boring stuff, you can just wait for the part on swear words.)

Anyway, let’s begin with consonant, vowel, and diphthong changes. There are a whopping twelve changes in total.

NOTE: Changes in vowel pronunciation occur only in the case of terminal vowels. For instance, in the word ren, the ‘e’ is not pronounced ‘oe.’ Only a word such as he, with the ‘e’ at the end, should be pronounced ‘hoe.’

  1. ZH-->Z
  2. CH-->C
  3. SH-->S
  4. W-->VW
  5. AN-->AH
  6. –UAN-->–UAH
  7. –IAN-->–IAH
  8. –O-->–OE
  9. –E-->–OE
  10. –UO-->–OE
  11. –UE-->–UOE
  12. R-->ZR

Here are samples of each sound, with an accompanying audio file.

  1. si*
  2. vwù
  3. cuáh
  4. diǎh
  5. poě
  6. hoe*
  7. hoè
  8. xuoe*rzen*

AUDIO

THE “OE” SOUND

OE is pinyin invented by me, because no adequate pinyin exists in putonghua. It is neither the same as the “ou” sound, nor is it the same as the “o” sound. I originally wanted to represent it with an umlaut (ö) because showing it as a diphthong is misleading, however there is no way I could put pinyin tone marks over an umlauted “o”.

I do want to emphasize, however, that there is no “E” soundit is just a straight "o" sounding like the English “hoe,” “low,” “bow,” or “po’ ” (as in “we po’ folks!”)

I don’t know if Chinese language books have their own representation of this sound. If they do, please let me know, and I will change it here accordingly.

AUDIO

THE “VW” SOUND

Sichuanhua’s “w” is quite different from the putonghua “w,” and contains much more of a “v” sound at the beginning, hence it’s representation here as “vw.”

AUDIO

THE “AH” SOUND

“AH” is distinct from the Mandarin “a”; here it sounds like the “a” in “bad,” “mad,” or “sad.”

AUDIO

THE “NG” SOUND

Special sound unique to sichuanhua. It will be explained more in part 3.

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