Pinyin pronunciation: zh as z

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Ghabi

Senior Member
Cantonese
Hi! In this thread it's been mentioned that the word zhou1 is pronounced as zou1 by some. I wonder how common is it to de-retroflex the consonants zh, ch, sh, r in Mandarin (I ask specifically about Mainland Mandarin, not the Taiwan variety, which doesn't use the retroflex much)? When do you do that, if at all? In rapid speech? Is the de-retroflexation restricted only to some words? Who are more likely to do that? The youth?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Hello, Ghabi!
    The problem is, I don't think the "zou/zhou" confusion in that original post is caused by a "de-retroflex". That one may be particularly caused by two not-so-common characters accidentally having similar pronunciations, as 诌zou1 means 胡说, and 诹zhou1 means 咨询. They also have similar structures and all concern "talkings". That's why we are confused.
    For your question, I think Beijingers and most northen Chinese are good at 卷舌音. So they seldom mess up z, c, s, zh, ch, sh.
     
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    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    Hi! In this thread it's been mentioned that the word zhou1 is pronounced as zou1 by some. I wonder how common is it to de-retroflex the consonants zh, ch, sh, r in Mandarin (I ask specifically about Mainland Mandarin, not the Taiwan variety, which doesn't use the retroflex much)? When do you do that, if at all? In rapid speech? Is the de-retroflexation restricted only to some words? Who are more likely to do that? The youth?

    Thanks in advance!
    De-retroflexion of ‹zh, ch, sh, r› is apparently very widespread in mainland China. The entirety of Southwestern Mandarin is usually described like this (having ‹z, c, s› and an English [z] sound as in "zipper" instead). I actually have access to some survey of Mandarin dialects so I'll try to get you more info later.

    Since you definitely have better ears than I do, you could also try listening to how people pronounce them (朝朝, 傳長, 數水是, 人柔如忍若) in this video.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Hello, Ghabi!
    The problem is, I don't think the "zou/zhou" confusion in that original post is caused by a "de-retroflex". That one may be particularly caused by two not-so-common characters accidentally having similar pronunciations, as 诌zou1 means 胡说, and 诹zhou1 means 咨询. They also have similar structures and all concern "talkings". That's why we are confused.
    I agree. It seems to be just a kind of confusion over some odd words. When talking of "de-retroflexing", we tend to see the phenomenon as occurring in a systematic way, one sound replacing the other in predictable environments.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    Thanks guys, I'm less perplexed now. @Neqitan, I enjoy the audio a lot, thanks so much (I'm not even aware that such an interesting compilation exists; hats off to the compilers and contributors).
     

    indigoduck

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Thanks guys, I'm less perplexed now. @Neqitan, I enjoy the audio a lot, thanks so much (I'm not even aware that such an interesting compilation exists; hats off to the compilers and contributors).


    Personally, i enjoyed the KFC commercial in the beginning. I wish they had that here.

    To all who listened to Neqitan's video.

    What dialects were heard in that compilation?

    My goodness... like Ghabi said, hats off to all who compiled that.
     

    Youngfun

    Senior Member
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I think in all Zhejiang province, we don't pronounce them correctly. Most often they are pronounced as their correspondent 平舌音。so zh is pronounced z, ch is pronounced c, sh is pronounced s. In 温州,r is most commonly pronounced /z/, but in some places of Zhejiang they pronounce it like a "L"
     

    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    De-retroflexion of ‹zh, ch, sh, r› is apparently very widespread in mainland China. The entirety of Southwestern Mandarin is usually described like this (having ‹z, c, s› and an English [z] sound as in "zipper" instead). I actually have access to some survey of Mandarin dialects so I'll try to get you more info later.
    Alright, I looked at Margaret Mian Yan's Introduction to Chinese dialectology (Lincom Europa: München (Germany), 2006), where she presents a survey of the dialects of a number of Chinese cities. For reasons I don't understand completely, she doesn't provide information for all of them consistently, sometimes mentioning some (e.g. Qīngdǎo) and sometimes omitting them. At least for our question here, she does provide data for all of: Běijīng, Jǐnán, Yāntái (Shandong), Nánjǐng (Jiangsu), Tàiyuán (Shanxi), Xī'ān (Shaanxi), Lánzhōu (Gansu) and Chéngdū (Sichuan). Also, for obvious reasons I can't just give you the tables...

    Since we're basically comparing Beijing Mandarin with the others:

    Beijing sh, if coming from Middle Chinese /書 *ɕ, 熟 *ʑ/, is pronounced as [f] in Xī'ān and Lánzhōu, and [s] in Yāntái, Tàiyuán and Chéngdū ([ʂ] in the others). If Beijing sh comes from Middle Chinese /師 *ɕ/, then it's pronounced [s] in Tàiyuán, Xī'ān and Chéngdū.

    Beijing r is pronounced as [z] in Chéngdū and Tàiyuán; dropped altogether in Yāntái; sometimes pronounced as [l] in Jǐnán, [v] in Xī'ān and Lánzhōu ([ʐ] elsewhere, it doesn't account for [ɻ] for some reason).

    Beijing zh is pronounced [ts] in Yāntái (though here also [tɕ] if coming from MC /知 *ʈ/) Chéngdū and Tàiyuán.

    Beijing ch is pronounced [tsʰ] in Yāntái, Chéngdū and Tàiyuán; if coming from MC /初 *tʃʰ/ also [ts] in Yāntái, and [pf] in Lánzhōu and sometimes Xī'ān,.
     

    南島君

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Hi Neqitan,

    I believe what Ghabi was discussing here, to my understanding, was regarding the de-retroflex of the retroflexs phenomena in Mainlanders' Mandarin1/普通話 from different areas [and of course, expected to be acquired with their local dialect, not to be necessary tho], rather the phonology rule of each Chinese variance [aka dialects] on Middle Chinese 章知莊系, which is the origin of Mandarin1 retroflex consonants, as we know.

    Southwestern Mandarin2/西南官話 is a dialectology term amended in the early years referring, as we know, to a branch of Mandarin2/官話 dialect. To Chinese who is acquired with Southwestern Mandarin2/西南官話, Mandarin1/ 普通話 is totally of another language/dialect variance, which i would have concluded from my private observation on the language spoken by an acquaintance from 昆明。

    Nevertheless, the information you'd offered is interesting, and i am very much in favour of the video clip you shared and the KFC... uhm oops...


    lc
     
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    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    I believe what Ghabi was discussing here, to my understanding, was regarding the de-retroflex of the retroflexs phenomena in Mainlanders' Mandarin1/普通話 from different areas [and of course, expected to be acquired with their local dialect, not to be necessary tho], rather the phonology rule of each Chinese variance [aka dialects] on Middle Chinese 章知莊系, which is the origin of Mandarin1 retroflex consonants, as we know.
    Please actually read my post, all those ARE Mandarin2 dialects. ;) This is not stuff about any Yue/Wu/Xiang/etc. dialect. How do you determine how a speaker of a Mandarin2 dialect like Chéngdū pronounced Mandarin1, if not looking at likely influences from their native dialect?
     

    南島君

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Please actually read my post, all those ARE Mandarin dialects. ;) This is not stuff about any Yue/Wu/Xiang/etc. dialect.
    Please do actual read my post, too. This thread is not about dialect, but how Chinese(s) from different areas pronounce the retroflex consonants in Chinese common language, the Mandarin1/普通話.

    As you had pointed out in your posts, some Mandarin2 Dialects do not have retroflex consonants. In that case, it is to my great interest to ask you: how do these speakers of Mandarin dialects de-retroflex ["retroflexs" in their dialects - which in fact do not exist] if there aren't any retroflexs in their dialects?
     
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    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    Please do actual read my post, too. This thread is not about dialect, but how Chinese(s) from different areas pronounce the retroflex consonants in Chinese common language, the Mandarin1/普通話.
    What's the difference between "dialect" and "how Chinese from different areas [speak]"?
    As you had pointed out in your posts, some Mandarin2 Dialects do not have retroflex consonants. In that case, it is to my great interest to ask you: how do these speaker of Mandarin dialects de-retroflex ["retroflexs" in their dialects - which does not exist] if there aren't any retroflexs in their dialects?
    Well, this would suppose a notion that these dialects de-retroflex zh, ch, sh, r from the point of view of dialects with them in the first place, which I don't agree with either. IMO it just happens that these modern dialects evolved with no retroflex consonants... and that's that.
     

    南島君

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    What's the difference between "dialect" and "how Chinese from different areas [speak]"?
    Please do read my words in the way i wrote them. What i wrote is (i have to add annotation for seems like we do not have common ground on these lines): This thread is not about dialect(s) [Mandarin dialects, in this discussion], but how Chinese(s) from different areas pronounce the retroflex consonants in Chinese common language, the Mandarin1/普通話.
    Which means this is a not about how Chinese(s) speak their dialects[官話方言] but how they speak their common language[普通話]. All the information you'd provided -The wiki-directing link, the youku video, the field study data extracted from Introduction to Chinese dialectology [Ok i didn't go through this book but i read its introduction], are all about dialect.


    Well, this would suppose a notion that these dialects de-retroflex zh, ch, sh, r from the point of view of dialects with them in the first place, which I don't agree with either. IMO it just happens that these modern dialects evolved with no retroflex consonants... and that's that.
    It is because these dialects are never considered a subject to discuss, it is wrong to put them under the examination of de-retroflex process in the first place.
     

    Serafín33

    Senior Member
    Oh, now I get your point. It just happens that's what I thought Ghabi was asking about, if you read the thread that Ghabi linked to in the first post, it comes from a discussion with a speaker from Beijing, so it could go one or the other way (Mandarin2 dialects or Mandarin1 pronunciations).
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    @Netiqan: I was thinking of Mandarin, not really the other Chinese spoken varieties, but thank you so much all the same for doing the lovely research and introducing me to that book of Chinese dialectology.:thumbsup: Looking forward to having some interesting discussions about the Chinese languages with you in the future!

    @南島君: Thanks so much for clarifying the intent of my question, which is certainly not phrased in the best possible way!:eek: Yes (you've read my mind!), I was wondering about the sociolinguistic factors and phonological contexts that may result in de-retroflexation, if any, in Mandarin.
     
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