Pinyin pronunciation: final -iu

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Alan Evangelista

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hi, guys!

As it is extremely hard to find a good online summary of all Pinyin pronunciation rules, I am listening the sounds in a Pinyin chart: Mandarin Chinese Pinyin Chart with Audio - Yabla Chinese . I have read here that the final -iu is pronounced [jou], but I can't hear the "o" in the audios of the Pinyin syllables with an initial, such as liu, diu, miu and niu, in the table linked above. Maybe in tone 3, but I am not sure. Is it liu pronounced [liu] or [liou] ? Oddly, I can clearly hear the "o" in the Pinyin syllable "you".

Also, I see nothing about triphthongs in Mandarin at Standard Chinese phonology - Wikipedia . I expected to find a -iou triphthong here.

I am very confused. Could someone please help? Thanks in advance!
 
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  • Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    I have read here that the final -iu is pronounced [jou]...I see nothing about triphthongs in Mandarin at Standard Chinese phonology - Wikipedia .
    Standard Chinese phonology--Wikipedia says <-iu> is pronounced [jou̯] (or underlying Middle Chinese [jəu] as a free variation), consistent with the other source you cited, so I don't know where your doubt came from.

    As far as the audio is concerned, some of the /o/s are not clearly pronounced by the speaker. In natural speech, the /o/ in /jou/ may undergo assimilation with the adjacent high sounds (/j/ and /u/ are [+high]). Nonetheless, it is certainly acceptable and may be even considered "standard" to enunciate it as a clear /o/.
     

    Alan Evangelista

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Standard Chinese phonology--Wikipedia says <-iu> is pronounced [jou̯] (or underlying Middle Chinese [jəu] as a free variation), consistent with the other source you cited, so I don't know where your doubt came from.
    AFAIK /jou̯/ is a triphthong because a triphthong is defined as a group of 3 vowel letters (regardless if the letter represent a vowel phonem or semivowel phonem). Am I mistaken? If I am right, the fact that the Chinese phonology wiki does not say anything about triphthongs seems a contradiction to me.

    As far as the audio is concerned, some of the /o/s are not clearly pronounced by the speaker. In natural speech, the /o/ in /jou/ may undergo assimilation with the adjacent high sounds (/j/ and /u/ are [+high]). Nonetheless, it is certainly acceptable and may be even considered "standard" to enunciate it as a clear /o/.
    So you're saying that I could hear "liou" as /liou̯/ or /liu/ and both are correct? :eek: Do tones influence that assimilation in any way? By the way, I am assuming that /j/ becomes /i/ when it is not in the beginning of the syllable.
     
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    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    you're saying that I could hear "liou" as /liou̯/ or /liu/ and both are correct?
    I meant: (1) /-jəu/ (enunciated; underlying realization), (2) /-jou/ (surface realization, with rounding assimilation to the following rounded back vowel /u/), or (3) /-jo̝u/ (surface realization, with vowel raising due to further assimitation to the adjacent high sounds /j/ and /u/). All three are correct.
    Do tones influence that assimilation in any way?
    Yes, the third tone /-jou/, which falls (-jo-) and then rises (-u), has an effect of separation and therefore tends to block the additional assimilation.
     
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    Alan Evangelista

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I meant: (1) /-jəu/ (enunciated; underlying realization), (2) /-jou/ (surface realization, with rounding assimilation to the following rounded back vowel /u/), or (3) /-jo̝u/ (surface realization, with vowel raising due to further assimitation to the adjacent high sounds /j/ and /u/). All three are correct.
    That is clearer, thanks! Quite surprising. I thought before that the IPA underlying (= phonemic) representation of the Pinyin final "-iu" was /jou/, not /jəu/.

    Anyway, I'm much more interested in the surface (= phonetic) pronunciations of the Pinyin finals, as the ones you provided. Is there an accurate online reference with the possible IPA phonetic pronunciations of every Pinyin final ? There is a similar table in the Standard Chinese wikipedia, but it rather limited. For instance, it only provides [jou̯] as possible phonetic pronunciation of /jəu/ .
     
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