Chinese accents in all languages

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Tensai, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. Tensai

    Tensai Member

    Chinese Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I have been speaking English for 11 years, I still have a slight Chinese accent, i have been trying to get rid of it.

    In my opinion, Chinese heavily accent English do not sound pleasant to my ears. Chinese is a tonal language, it sounds flat, and all words have the same length, speaking Chinese is kinda like machinegun firing, while English has some melodies. many Chinese ESL people, when they speak English, they speak like with no melodies just like in Chinese.

    Since I am learning Spanish, I wonder how Chinese accent in other languages sound like?
  2. Gato_Gordo

    Gato_Gordo Senior Member

    The Western Pearl
    Spanish - México
    Wow, It's very interesting what you say, because here in Mexico we say that you sing while speaking.

    Of course most of what I hear in chinese are movies (classic Jet Li , Jackie Chan and other Harmony Gold classic movies actually), and the strong rhythm pattern and tonal changes, sound very song-like.

    In México City there´s an accent pattern very similar to this, and is used by a large number of people, but only in the capital city.
  3. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Cantonese Spanish:
    ou laa, koa mou ei ta? Mei ya-mou weenson yi soa-yi dei ka-la-da y u-si-deh, dei dong-dei eh-lei-si? Aah-bou kang-tou-lei-si yi ying-gei-si pei-lo keh-lo a-ping-deh eh-lo eh-si-pang-you.

    "Hello, how are you? My name is Vincent and I am from Canada. And you, where are you from? I speak Cantonese and English but I want to learn Spanish"

    I find that Cantonese accents can be really strong, especially since they have trouble with consonant blends ("clock" might be pronounced "ka-lok") and they can't pronounce certain consonants if they're at the end of a word ("special" might become "si-beh-show"). For the consonants they can pronounce, they fail to release the full sound. Also like speakers of other tonal languages, they insert their own tones when speaking English and other languages which makes it sound unsual.

    The best way to reduce your accent is to talk to English speakers, expand your circle of friends to include non-Cantonese people. My parents never did this so they still have Cantonese accents (strong ones too!) after 30 years.

    And don't worry about Spanish, it is one of the easiest natural languages to learn
  4. Tensai

    Tensai Member

    Chinese Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I actually don't really have Chinese friends, maybe a few, my friends are from all over the world, haha.

    My English pronounciation is pretty good like native speakers, I think, but my friends tells me I still have a slight Chinese accent.

    Chinese accented English sounds especially unpleasant when spoken by an old man or woman. few days ago I was on the train, there was an old Chinese woman talking loudly in heavily Chinese accented English, I almost wanted to cover my ears.

    Chinese people who have heavy Cantonese accents pronounce the following words like this:
    bus - ba-si
    taxi- dik-si
    fax - fak-si
  5. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    No he oído a muchos chinos intentando hablar español, excepto en restaurantes quizá. Mi mujer tiene una pronunciación muy buena en español, pero también la tiene en inglés, así que no sé qué decir.
  6. Pivra Senior Member

    I don't like Siamese(central Thai) spoken by Thais with Chinese descendants at all, lots of them can't say the trilled R and thier D turns into an L and they can't do lots of consonant sounds and polypthong vowels. No offense to Chinese people but Chinese accent only sounds good when it's with Mandarin. Same thing goes to other languages. I was trying to say face (in French) yesterday and my friend got pissed because I am used to saying face like English and she was not so happy with the outcome lol. ( I hate English with Thai accent too, it sounds very uneducated and English intonnation is hard for most Thais)
  7. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo moderator

    American English
    How can Chinese be a tonal language yet sound flat? I thought that the very definition of "tonal language" implies that the tone or pitch must rise and fall according to the speaker's intent.

    I don't think that the Chinese accent sounds unpleasant in any language... at least no more unpleasant than an American accent sounds. :)
  8. Tensai

    Tensai Member

    Chinese Cantonese, Hong Kong

    Hmmm, maybe I used the wrong word. How should I say this, I think the Chinese language sounds very 'hard', especially Cantonsee, and its difficult to speak Cantonese quietly, I read some Taiwanese said that, they think we sound like we are arguing whenever we are talking in Cantonese.

    Oh, American accents, I agree..
  9. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    The Mandarin accent when speaking English doens't sound very hard

    but the Cantonese one does many times. Mainly because of how they terminate syllables.

    And yes, the Mandarin and Cantonese accents are noticeably different, talking of a "Chinese accent" is like talking of an "Indian accent" (oh wait, people do that anyway, well, they're ignorant).
  10. bpipoly

    bpipoly Senior Member

    English, United States
    I have a friend of a friend who I was tutoring in French whose native Chinese speaker. He could tell sometimes that I was starring at him funny when he said some words. I think your accent might be a like more staccato than most Spanish speakers. As long as you work on your vowel sounds (which are rather different from Chinese and English - which has terrible vowel sounds in my opinion) and rolling your r's (which I can bearly do since I learned French first), you should be able to cultivate a decent Spanish accent.
  11. Pivra Senior Member

    Hey, guess what?, Spanish is easier to pronounce than English (but for me at this point its English) people who don't speak English as their first language tend to speak Spanish with a better articulation than English speakers.
  12. Dimitri Lee Member

    Chinese, Taiwan
    The intonation is quiet different between languages. In Chinese(Mandarin), each word has it's own fixed intonation, and is always single syllable, while in English, the intonation depends on the sentence. There are 4 different intonations in Mandarin, they are high, acute, low and grave, and there are 8 in Taiwanese. I think it's the reason why Gato_Gordo say Chinese sing while speaking. Unlike English, Chinese intonation is fixed. For example, you can emphasize a single word in a sentence in English by pronuncing it in a higher pitch, which is impossible in Chinese. I think it is the reason we think Chinese is flat.
  13. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    A few things I've noticed in people with a Chinese accent:

    - Using R and L interchangeably, or perhaps an intermediate sound (?);
    - Inserting an epenthetic vowel in difficult (for them) consonant clusters. This unfortunately tends to make Chinese accents difficult to follow for native speakers.
    - Ignoring conjugations and other word inflections. Understandable, since they don't have them in Chinese.
    - I don't know how to explain this very well, but I think the fact that most Chinese words are monosyllabic causes troubles for Chinese speakeres when they attempt to speak European languages, which typically have very long, polysyllabic words. They don't seem to pay enough attention to treating 'words' as units, separate from other 'words'. They seem to speak in a stream of syllables.
  14. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Mandarin is not very monosyllabic, so I think that for them, the real problem is grasping that not every syllable has an independent meaning. i.e. in most Indo-European languages morphemes can be longer than one syllable.

    Cantonese and Mandarin speakers (but not Wu (Shanghainese) speakers) have trouble differentiating voiced and unvoiced consonants. So they pronounce b and p the same, t and d, g and k, s and z, and f and v the same.
  15. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Yes, you've explained it better, Vince. That may be why Chinese speakers say their language sounds 'flat': they place the same emphasis on each syllable, whereas in European languages, even though we do mangle words together when we're actually talking, we somehow still manage to keep track of the boundaries between them.
  16. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    aah it makes sense now
    that probably explains why Chinese languages have so many "particles" - words tacked on that don't have any meaning other than to convey
    mood, emotion, or whether the sentence should be taken as a question/command/statement. Because they can't use intonation like in most European languages.
  17. Dimitri Lee Member

    Chinese, Taiwan
    I've noticed the R/L interchange thing, which really confuses me, since there's a consonant sounds very similar to R in Mandarin. As to the epenthetic vowel, there's no consonant without a following vowel in Mandarin, so it would be hard for a Mandarin speaker to pronounce 2 adjecent consonants.

    Most people I know can easily tell the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants in English, but it is almost impossible for a Mandarin speaker to differentiate voiced and unvoiced consonants in Russian(and european language that have similar consonants). It would be easier for one who can speak Taiwanese, where there're similar voice and unvoiced consonants.
  18. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Most Russian voiced and unvoiced consonants are the same in Russian as they are in English.
    Do you mean hard vs. soft consonants?

    Cantonese speakers have trouble saying the 'v' sound, often saying 'w' instead, but I don't think Wu (Shanghainese) speakers have this problem, since v exists as a phoneme in that language.
  19. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I think Dmitri's comment may have something to do with the fact that plosives are sometimes aspirated in English and other Germanic languages, but not in other groups of European languages. Mandarin also has aspirated plosives, as
    I understand.
  20. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    Well in Spanish, Chinese normally don't pronounce the R and they say it as L, For exmple .- Me encanta el aloz, I love the rice.
    ANd they put a lot of emphasis on the last sylabe.
    Also they sound really agude, And sometimes they say the sound yia or you in lamost all their speaking.
    Believe me it's true there's abig chinise communioty on mexico city.
    Almost all tepito is their.
  21. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    According to

    Mandarin has both aspirated and non-aspirated consonants, but does not distinguish between voiced and unvoiced. Cantonese is also like this.

    So I think Dimitri Lee might be referring to Russian soft/hard consonants.
  22. Dimitri Lee Member

    Chinese, Taiwan
    What I'm refering to is voice and unvoiced consonants. I don't know the fact that a voiced consonant can be pronunced without aspiration in English. I think I need to work on my pronunciation. Soft/hard consonants are not easy for us to pronounce, but at least we can tell the difference.
  23. tongangirl New Member

    melbourne australia
    new zealand and tongan
    hey guys well im in year 12 this year and for my drama solo i am doing wu zetian the chinese empress i was just wondering if you could help me out with the abbreviations of some of the words. And also how you pronounce certain words and your accent.well it would be great oky well hope you have a good day. take care


Share This Page