Pronunciation: neutral tone

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by quitecool, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. quitecool New Member


    I'd like to ask what is meant by the neutral tone?

    Like for eg 东西 and 商量 and 妹妹 etc

    I understand in these cases the 2nd character is neutral in tone.

    What does that mean and how is it pronounced differently from regular use? Is it just a softer/smaller/faster sound?

  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Generally, a neutral sound is softer and shorter but the main thing is when Xi1 Xi2 Xi3 Xi4 are neutralised, they all sound the same as Xi (ie, there is no tone in it).

    Welcome to the forum, quitecool! (That's a cool name!:))
  3. quitecool New Member

    Thanks for the warm welcome!

    I'm still not sure how to go about pronouncing it.

    Does anyone have recommendations of the best site to check out mandarin pronunciations?
  4. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Here is a link for you to start with:
    The way to use it may not be apparent at first, so play with it and you'll get the hang of it. For each syllable that you click, the first of the sounds presented is the neutral sound.

    You can find many similar web pages by googling for something like: Chinese sounds/ Chinese syllables/ Chinese pinyin, etc.
  5. tarlou Senior Member

    I think the the first sounds in xiaolijie's link are the 1st tone:(... In fact, I think neutral tone does not exist separately. When you try to say a single character in neutral tone, it just sounds like an average of 1st tone and 4th tone (or maybe other tones depending on the context, it maybe pronounced in different ways according to some materials I've seen before...). Only when it is next to other characters with tones, it can be found to be significantly lighter.

    Google translate can pronounce 东西 商量 妹妹 accurately with neutral tones.

    PS: People in north China do a lot of neutral tones. However, some people in the south and abroad are more likely to do 商shang1量liang2.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  6. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    For me it's shang1 liang4.

    妹妹 with light tone. 东西 with light tone when it means "thing"; but dong1 xi1 when it means "east-west".
  7. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Yes, you're right. With a quick look, I mistakenly took the one without tone mark as the neutral sound...

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