This is a crazy week for me with parent health stuff, but I want to take some time to summarize your last class so that any new students or those who missed class this past week can catch up on their own. REMEMBER THAT THERE WILL BE NO CLASS THIS COMING MONDAY, AS I WILL BE OUT OF TOWN FOR A FAMILY EMERGENCY.
IN ADDITION, THERE ARE NO CLASSES UNTIL JANUARY 11 DUE TO WINTER BREAK.
Let's see what we covered this past Monday...
Starting on page 1 of your textbook, we discussed how every Chinese syllable has 3 components:
AN INITIAL SOUND
A FINAL SOUND
We reviewed the "SIMPLE FINALS," which we had introduced the previous first class on the handout that I provided, which new students may download from the first of the 2 welcome emails that I forwarded you when you joined the class from the waitlist.
You will remember that the simple finals are:
a o e i u ü
We discussed that
a sounds like "father"
o sounds like "on" or "off" -- AND NEVER LIKE "OH MY GOD!!!"
e sounds like "wood" or sometimes like "duh," depending on where the native speaker is from
u sounds like "food"
ü is a challenging sound for beginners to make. You say "ee" like "meet," but you shape your lips like you are going to whistle or make a kissy face. This modifies the "ee" into UMLAUT U.
Finally, we saw that the i in Mandarin has 2 possible sounds, depending on which initial consonant it follows. If the i follows lines 1, 2, and 4 of the bo po mo fo table of initial consonant sounds, the i is pronounced like "meet" or "see." If the i follows lines 5 or 6 of the bo po mo fo table initial consonants, it sounds almost like a buzzy grunt. The actual sound of the i after the consonants from lines 5 and 6 is difficult to type and must be heard and imitated over and over until the student gets it right on a consistent basis.
We mentioned that one of the greatest cardinal sins of beginner Mandarin students is to pronounce "Wo3 Shi4" ["I am"] as "WHOA SHE."
DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER
The o sound in spoken Mandarin is always pronounced as "on off." The i sound after "sh" is always pronounced like the American English word "shirt," but without the "t" at the end.
The bo po mo fo table of initial consonant sounds in Mandarin Chinese was presented to the class as such, with specific finals assigned to each row:
1. bo po mo fo 4. ji qi xi
2. de te ne le 5. zi ci si
3. ge ke he 6. zhi chi shi ri
We spent the rest of the class this past Monday going over these pronunciations, found in section B. Initials on page 2 of the textbook:
Of note to remember:
b, p, m, f all sound exactly like they do in English.
d, t, n, l also sound exactly like English.
g sounds exactly like the "HARD G" [golly gosh go get it, NOT George, which is a "soft g"].
k sounds exactly like English.
h sounds like the beginning of the English male first name, "HUGH," and can be described as sort of a "h+y" kind of initial sound. If you want to be authentically Mandarin with your h sound, put a small amount of phlegm behind it.
You MUST MUST MUST ALWAYS say line 4 with a very wide, awkward smile on your face. If you do this, you cannot possibly mispronounce these 3 initial sounds, even if you try!!! The i sound in like 4 sounds like "see.
The z sound is actually "DZ," like the end of the English word "adds" -- "It all adds up..." The i in this line sounds like a bee buzzing in your ear, NOT like "see." DO NOT EVER PRONOUNCE THIS LINE'S I LIKE "SEE!!!"
The c sound is actually "TS," like the end of the English words "cats." REMEMBER THIS.
The s sound sounds like a very hissy English s.
IF YOU KEEP APPROXIMATELY THE SAME WIDE, AWKWARD SMILE THAT YOU USED FOR LINE 4 [BUT NOT QUITE AS WIDE] AND USE IT FOR LINE 5, MAKING SURE THAT YOUR I VOWEL SOUNDS LIKE A BEE BUZZING, YOU WILL PRONOUNCE ALL 3 OF THESE CORRECTLY.
ZHI sounds like an exaggerated beginning to the English word, "jerk," with a very over-emphasized "JER" and you do not pronounce the k in the English word.
CHI sounds like an exaggerated beginning to the English word "church," but you do not pronounce the final "ch."
SHI sounds like an exaggerated beginning to the English word "shirt," but you do not pronounce the final "t."
RI sounds like little kids pretending they are revving the engine on a toy car while they push it along the floor while playing.
Hopefully these hints will help you to internalize and remember these fundamental sounds of spoken Mandarin.
See everyone on January 11 after the Winter Break. Sorry again that I have to miss class this coming Monday due to a family emergency out of state.
Best wishes and Happy Holidays to All!