Not really. In some words you do have to use the neutral tone (otherwise it can become unintelligible), e.g. 椅子.I always felt that I should pronounce all the tones, just to be on the safe side.
That's weird...Native Chinese should all require the first tone for 兵.But today I said 士兵 "soldier" with both the tones (4 followed by 1) and my Chinese friend had no idea what I was saying. I repeated myself several times and was finally forced to write it down. He told me I should have used the neutral tone for the second character.
My experience:It's interesting that although standard Mandarin requires 父亲 to be pronounced fùqin (and not fùqīn), it requires 母亲 to be pronounced mǔqīn instead of mǔqin. I would have expected both to have a neutral final syllable.
I am not surprised that it is acceptable to pronounce 父亲 as fùqīn in the South (but unacceptable in the North). The reason is that I have noticed that people in the South hardly ever use the neutral tone.fùqīn is usually used in South China, especially Taiwan, and Guangzhou.
fùqin is normally used in North China, when you listen to the News broadcasting on CCTV, it will be fùqin.
I think you might overstate the barriers among accents a bit.I am not surprised that it is acceptable to pronounce 父亲 as fùqīn in the South (but unacceptable in the North). The reason is that I have noticed that people in the South hardly ever use the neutral tone.
For example, they pronounce 朋友 as péngyǒu, even though this pronunciation is unacceptable in the North, just like fùqīn. Similarly, Southerners pronounce 休息 (to rest) as xiūxí, even though this is unacceptable in the North. A third example is 明白 (to understand), which Southerners pronounce míngbái.