Pronunciation: 的 (de / di), 了 (le / liao)

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Agarina, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. Agarina Junior Member

    Oklahoma, U.S.
    United States; English
    The pinyin usually used for “的” is "de" but I've often heard it pronounced and seen it written as "di". Is this just a regional/colloquial thing or is it something to do with grammar? I know that “了” is usually pronounced "le" but sometimes it is gramatically incorrect as "le" and has to be pronounced "liao". Why is that?

    *Part of the question is moved to the new thread*
  2. kareno999 Senior Member

    Columbus, OH
    了liao3 is a verb, (cf 了解 了结 etc.) eg, 我终于了(liao3)了(le)一桩心事.
    When appearing in a song, 的 了can be (not necessarily) pronounced like "di" "liao" even if they serve as grammatical particles.

    *Part of the answer is moved to the new thread* 谁 - shei / shui
  3. kkmp

    kkmp Junior Member

    Middle Earth, Mandarin
    Chinese words can be categorized into two groups: real words (实词) and unreal words, or, functional words(虚词). Real words include nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, numbers etc. Unreal words include adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections etc.

    Both 的 and 了 happen to be both real and unreal words. When the two play different roles as real and unreal words, their pronunciations change. Below is a brief list of their functions, meanings and corresponding pronunciations.

    的 : real word, adverb : dí : truly, indeed : as in 的确.
    的 : real word, noun : dì : target, goal : as in 目的.
    的 : unreal word, auxilary particle : de : used in many situations, for example 1) used between an adjective and a noun:黑色的 头发(black hair);2) used between a pronoun and a noun:他的 车(his car),etc.

    了: real word, verb: liǎo : understand, see : as in 明了.
    了: real word, verb: liǎo : finish : as in 了结.
    了: unreal word, auxilary particle: le : used after a verb or adjective meaning an action is finished or a state is over: 信写完了(The letter is finished).

    There are many other situations where 的 & 了 are used. For details a textbook or dictionary is highly advised. It should also be mentioned that when 的 & 了 are spoken as unreal words, their pronunciations are weaker than those of normal characters.

    *Part of the answer is moved to the new thread* 谁 - shei / shui

    BTW: There is another word 着 which can be used as both real (zhuó, zhāo) and unreal (zhe).
  4. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    实词[實詞] shící n. 〈lg.〉 notional/plerematic word;
    虚词[虛詞] xūcí* n. 〈lg.〉 function/form/cenematic/empty/syncategorematic word; functive; particle

    Interesting insight, thanks, always wondered about the Chinese grammar from the Chinese point of view.
  5. goodatchinese Junior Member

    In my opinion , it's just a polyphone issue in Chinese. Don't try to find some patterns for them, cause there are so many and every one has its own behavior. Just try to keep the pronunciation in your mind, speak more, and let it be your instinct.

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