Pinyin: Why xiong not xüong?

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  • tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It seems both [yəŋ] and [ioŋ] are possible sounds/transcriptions of "iong". See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin#Finals for an [ioŋ]-like transcription. Below is quoted from 《国际音标自学手册》 by 周殿福:
    iong韵,有人用扁唇的i开头,有人却用圆唇的ü开头。用扁唇开头的标作[ioŋ],用圆唇开头的标作[yŋ]或[yəŋ]。
    I think probably the inventor of Pinyin was thinking about [ioŋ] only...
     
    I used to think that it's just for consistency and convenience.

    If we accept weng = ong, yu = ü, then it's reasonable to spell üong as either üeng or yong.

    The latter is easy to write and type.

    For the same reason, we use ju qu xu (u= ü) rather than jiu qiu xiu because of its brevity.
    iu is not used and becomes a shorthand for iou.

    One thing I don't understand is, why don't they just choose "ung" instead of "ong"?
     
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    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    xüong -- I think I have heard this pronunciation before and assumed that it was a 方言/non-standard pronunciation (since I was influenced by the spelling of xiong).

    This pinyin chart really changes things around for me!

    Based on the information given in the pinyin chart on Wikipedia that Skatinginbc provided above, are {jiong, qiong, xiong} supposed to be pronounced with an "ü" sound in standard Mandarin? (is this sound equally/more correct than with an "iong" (一 + the final in 龙 long) sound?)

    I've also always assumed that "weng" rhymed with "feng" (翁 vs 风), and thought that I heard it that way.. is it also pronounced with an "ong" sound? (to rhyme with 东?)

    Thanks/谢谢!
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    I pronounce 兄 as xüong [ɕyoŋ] (= 虛 xü + ong as in 東 dong or 通 tong), not xiong [ɕioŋ] (= 希 xi + ong). My pronunciation is identical to the 普通话 audio pronunciation of this website (http://cn.voicedic.com/).
    I found a Wu pronunciation audio for 兄, which sounds like [ɕyʊŋ] (http://www.forvo.com/word/兄/). I haven't had any luck for [ɕioŋ] yet.
    My question: Is 兄 indeed read as [ɕioŋ] (= 希 xi + ong) in the "standard" 普通话? Or is it actually identical to 注音符號 ㄒㄩㄥ (虛 xü + ong)?
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Thanks for your reply, Skatinginbc! Would it also be correct to think of it as "xyong" (pinyin) when spoken at conversational speed? As in, can the /y/ (IPA) ever become a /j/ (IPA) here?
     
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    According to my pronunciation,
    weng(not -ong) is sometimes /uɤŋ/ when I articulate it.
    ieng is either /iŋ/ or /iɤŋ/.
    iong is must be /yʊŋ/, otherwise it sounds very strange.

    It seems to me that, if the vowel is rounded, the medial MUST be rounded. The reverse is not true. (weng, yue, etc.)
    An exception is -iu/you, but I don't think the o in -iu is rounded though.
     
    I've also always assumed that "weng" rhymed with "feng" (翁 vs 风), and thought that I heard it that way.. is it also pronounced with an "ong" sound? (to rhyme with 东?)
    Many people pronounce in that way, for example, who live in Taiwan.

    EDIT:
    I'm sorry I have misunderstood your words.
    I meant weng is usually pronounced as ong, but feng is sometimes pronounced as fong.
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I meant weng is usually pronounced as ong, but feng is sometimes pronounced as fong.
    Would this person's pronunciation of 翁 weng be in the minority then? (Sacat, under 汉语) I think he is pronouncing "weng" to rhyme with "feng", right? (but it looks like it officially rhymes with 东 according to the chart?)

    "feng is sometimes pronounced as fong" -- Oh! Is this common?

    Thanks for your reply, YangMuye!
     
    Would this person's pronunciation of 翁 weng be in the minority then? (Sacat, under 汉语) I think he is pronouncing "weng" to rhyme with "feng", right? (but it looks like it officially rhymes with 东 according to the chart?)

    "feng is sometimes pronounced as fong" -- Oh! Is this common?

    Thanks for your reply, YangMuye!
    I'm sorry all computers I can use now don't audio cards so I can't check it for you. :(

    But as I said,
    YangMuye said:
    According to my pronunciation,
    weng(not -ong) is sometimes /uɤŋ/ when I articulate it.
    I think it's possible to pronounce "weng" to rhyme with "feng", especially when the "w" sounds like /u/(longer) rather than /w/.
    At least, it's not strange to me.
     

    Rethliopuks

    Member
    Mandarin
    My pronunciation of -iong seems to have a medial between i and yu, and to me here they make no difference...
    For your information, my mother(a woman of Northeast) sometimes pronounce it as if pronouncing üng/üung.

    Would this person's pronunciation of 翁 weng be in the minority then? (Sacat, under 汉语) I think he is pronouncing "weng" to rhyme with "feng", right? (but it looks like it officially rhymes with 东 according to the chart?)

    "feng is sometimes pronounced as fong" -- Oh! Is this common?

    Thanks for your reply, YangMuye!
    I've heard many prople pronouncing eng after b/p/m/f/w as ong, and some are especially common when singing, like 梦meng and 风feng. However this generally(with some exceptions) gives me a sense of South.
    Underlined because I made a typo there before.
     
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    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Many people pronounce in that way, for example, who live in Taiwan.
    You are right on the money. The following is a possible dialogue in Taiwan:
    Foreigner: May I speak to Mr. Wεŋ, please?
    Taiwanese: Mr. who?
    Foreigner: Wεŋ?
    Taiwanese: Erm, we don't have a Wεŋ here.
    Foreigner: Sorry, I meant Mr. Wəŋ.
    Taiwanese: Wəŋ? Oh, you mean Mr. Wong 翁. Hold on, I'll go get him.
    What I'm trying to demonstrate above is that /əŋ/ is perceived as an allophone of /oŋ/, not /εŋ/. With the spelling Weng, people may get an impression that /ε/ and /o/ are allophones.
    My pronunciation of -iong seems to have a medial between i and yu, and to me here they make no difference...
    This makes a tiny difference for me. A pure -i- would be classified as 开口, whereas y or iy (I guess that's what you described as something in between) would be 合口. 兄 is classified as 合口 according to the ancient rhyme table. In other words, there seems to be an underlying ü there that makes xiong belong to the -ü- group, not -i- group.
     
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    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    Hi, does anyone happen to know why 窘, 瓊, and 兄 are spelled as jiong, qiong, and xiong in Pinyin, rather than jüong, qüong, and xüong? The funny part is that jiong, qiong, and xiong are listed under the Group -ü-, not Group -i- in the Pinyin Table (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin_table).
    [Jiong, qiong, xiong] = [jüong, qüong, xüong]: they are allophones.
    As for their representation in writing, it's just a convention as long as there is no ambiguity in the presentation. Besides, pinyin is not a perfect system of spelling (but there's perhaps no such thing as a perfect system of spelling).
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    I want to emphasize that my purpose of creating this thread is not about whether Pinyin is good or bad. I just want to confirm whether xiong and the like are in fact commonly pronounced with a pure -i- medial in 普通话 so that Pinyin uses it for the spelling. My assumption (only guess) is that it could be based on Beijing dialect. If so, that would be a good enough reason for me. If not...I haven't thought of a good explanation yet :D.
    Thanks for your reply, Skatinginbc! Would it also be correct to think of it as "xyong" (pinyin) when spoken at conversational speed? As in, can the /y/ (IPA) ever become a /j/ (IPA) here?
    Sorry, I'm not able to answer it. I actually have the same question. All I know is that there exist some variations as Tarlou and others have kindly pointed out for me. But I'm still hoping to find out what the "standard" or the most common pronunciation is supposed to be.
     
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    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    For the same reason, we use ju qu xu (u= ü) rather than jiu qiu xiu because of its brevity.
    iu is not used and becomes a shorthand for iou.
    I'm not clear what you mean by that. Both [ju qu xu] and [jiu qiu xiu] exist in pinyin and they represent 2 different sets.

    One thing I don't understand is, why don't they just choose "ung" instead of "ong"?
    Why not? Another person may ask why "ung" and not "ong".
    (By the way "ung" was used in some earlier romanisation system, and the new regime (PRC) probably wanted to differ :))
     
    I'm not clear what you mean by that. Both [ju qu xu] and [jiu qiu xiu] exist in pinyin and they represent 2 different sets.

    Why not? Another person may ask why "ung" and not "ong".
    (By the way "ung" was used in some earlier romanisation system, and the new regime (PRC) probably wanted to differ :))
    I meant those people who designed the Pinyin system might have though that
    jiong/ju/jiu are much easier to write than jüeng/jiu/jiou.

    So they chose the first scheme.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Both [ju qu xu] and [jiu qiu xiu] exist in pinyin and they represent 2 different sets.
    The [jiu qiu xiu] set, which sounds like 贛語 (e.g., 南昌 dialect) rather than Mandarin, is a mystery to me as well. Intuitively, I would have spelled jiou 灸, qiou 丘, and 休 xiou, rhyming with English yow.

    Back to the topic, can anyone here that speaks the Beijing dialect please tell me whether xiong is pronounced with a pure -i- medial without any contamination of ü (y)? I really want to know. Thanks.
     
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    tarlou

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I'm not sure about Beijing dialect. But I think it is a bit unnatural to make a 'xiong' sound with a pure /i/. The actual sound may be slightly rounded, but not as rounded as a pure /y/. And it may also depend on the tone, intonation, and the speaker.

    If it is a /y/ sound in Beijing dialect, there can also be other reasons for using 'iong'. For example, in most southern languages (http://cn.voicedic.com/) 兄 sounds like hixxxx...

    Edit: 'xiong' with an rounded /i/ may also sound natural if the /i/ is a little bit back(?)...

    Edit 2: I'm not sure if I'm right but here are some thoughts: Both tongue and lips are in continuous moves when pronouncing the 兄 sound. The tongue moves to be back, and meanwhile the lips become round and small. During this procedure, infinite vowels from /i/ to /o/ are pronounced. The difference between /iong/ and /yong/ (which are samples of a continuous sound) may be just how fast the lips become rounded, and "how fast" is not an accurate concept and may involve subjective factors.
     
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    I don't speak the Beijing dialect but I'm working in Beijing currently.
    I haven't noticed their iong is different from mine.

    Tarlou, the pronunciation of y as an medial might not be as firm as a vowel.
    You can compare it with xuan and xian. Is the i rounded enough to fit in xuan?

    Technically speaking, rounded vowels are backer than their nonrounded counterparts.
    I even saw someone claims that the term roundedness is not necessary.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Both tongue and lips are in continuous moves when pronouncing the 兄 sound. The tongue moves to be back, and meanwhile the lips become round and small.
    I think I got the answer: You actually move your lips from an unrounded position to a pursed one during the process of pronouncing . It is different from mine. My lips are rounded (合口) when or even before the first sound comes out of my mouth for , and they are kept pursed till the end of the word. It becomes obvious now that the spelling Xiong is based on a northern dialect (e.g., Hebei and perhaps Beijing).
    Thank you Tarlou, YangMuye, and all that have kindly offered help.
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    My lips are rounded (合口) when or even before the first sound comes out of my mouth for , and they are kept pursed till the end of the word.
    But do your lips ever become as round as when you say ü as a vowel (e.g. 玉 ) or as a glide (e.g. 月 yuè)? Then they would have to unround a bit to pronounce the -ong.

    The same question, asked in a different way: When there is no initial (e.g. 用 yòng), do you have the impression that you pronounce the same glide as in 月 yuè?

    I think I would agree with Rethliopuks (#11) and tarlou (#21): It's something in between [j] and [ɥ] in terms of lip-rounding. Underlyingly, I would prefer to say that it's /i/ or /j/ (not /y/ or /ɥ/), with the rounding as an anticipatory phonetic effect, although historically I guess this was a case of unrounding.
     
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    But do your lips ever become as round as when you say ü as a vowel (e.g. 玉 yù) or as a glide (e.g. 月 yuè)? Then they would have to unround a bit to pronounce the -ong.

    The same question, asked in a different way: When there is no initial (e.g. 用 yòng), do you have the impression that you pronounce the same glide as in 月 yuè?

    I think I would agree with Rethliopuks (#11) and tarlou (#21): It's something in between [j] and [ɥ] in terms of lip-rounding. Underlyingly, I would prefer to say that it's /i/ or /j/ (not /y/ or /ɥ/), with the rounding as an anticipatory phonetic effect, although historically I guess this was a case of unrounding.
    When I pronounce xiong yong 汹涌, my lips are rounded through out the two syllables.
    When I articulate xiong and yong, the xi and y part can be longer and I here a clear voiceless /y/ in xiong and voiced /y/ in yong. The x is also rounded before I make any audible sound (no matter it's voiceless or voiced sound)

    I think there is no doubt that standard Mandarin yong has rounded medials.

    Skatinginbc just wonder why Pinyin choose the symbol iong.

    Although Skatinginbc seems to believe it's based on some phonetic facts.
    I must disagree because:
    1. Pinyin is far from a consistent system
    2. Not only iong is arranged under 齐齿呼, ong is put under 开口呼 too. This is a systematic consideration, as I said in earlier post.

    I used to think that it's just for consistency and convenience.
    If we accept weng = ong, yu = ü, then it's reasonable to spell üong as either üeng or yong.
    The latter is easy to write and type.
    ......
    One thing I don't understand is, why don't they just choose "ung" instead of "ong"?
    Why not? Another person may ask why "ung" and not "ong".

    3. Evidence from 王力's words.
    王力《现代汉语语音分析中的几个问题》(中国语文1979年第四期, 王力语言学论文集314页, 王力文集第17卷)
    ......
    (一)汉语拼音方案委员会认为,在拼音方案中应该尽可能少用拉丁字母u,因为u在手写时容易和n相混。这样,“轰”的韵母本该是ung,写成了ong;“雍”的韵母本该是üng,写成了iong。合口呼变了开口呼了。我们讲四呼时,仍应把它们归入合口呼。“熬”的韵母本该是au,由于怕容易和“安”的韵母an相混,改写为ao;“腰”的韵母本该是iau,由于怕容易和“烟”的韵母ian相混,改写为iao。我们讲韵尾时,应该把这类韵尾认为是 u 。
    ......
    This not only clarified iong is rounded, but also answered my previous question: (if they have wanted to make a compact scheme,) why didn't they just choose ung?
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    When I pronounce xiong yong 汹涌, my lips are rounded through out the two syllables.
    My point was about the degree of lip-rounding, and whether it is phonemically specified or a phonetic effect.
    I think there is no doubt that standard Mandarin yong has rounded medials.
    I still have a doubt. for example, if someone asked me to pronounce 涌 in a very drawn-out, exaggerated way, I would come up something like [iː(j)oːŋ], with no rounding at the beginning, and not [yː(ɥ)oːŋ], with rounding throughout.
     
    My point was about the degree of lip-rounding, and whether it is phonemically specified or a phonetic effect.
    I still have a doubt. for example, if someone asked me to pronounce 涌 in a very drawn-out, exaggerated way, I would come up something like [iː(j)oːŋ], with no rounding at the beginning, and not [yː(ɥ)oːŋ], with rounding throughout.
    I think it's a personal preference. I will definitely use the rounded one.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    When I pronounce xiong yong 汹涌, my lips are rounded through out the two syllables.
    That is how I pronounce 汹涌 as well.
    The x is also rounded before I make any audible sound
    Same here.
    But do your lips ever become as round as when you say ü as a vowel (e.g. 玉 ) or as a glide (e.g. 月 yuè)?
    The degree of roundness is identical for me in 兄, 玉, 月 except that my lips change from a pursed position to a stretched one during the pronunciation of 月 but they make little changes during the pronunciation of 兄 or 玉.
    Although Skatinginbc seems to believe it's based on some phonetic facts.
    I doubted it at first, but after Tarlou, who speaks the Hebei dialect as far as I know, said there is a change in lip position during the articulation, I was convinced that /xiong/ indeed exists in a northern dialect.
    王力: 在拼音方案中应该尽可能少用拉丁字母u,因为u在手写时容易和n相混
    To avoid confusion between u with n? That seems to be a very weak justification for such a big decision (That is a comment for 汉语拼音方案委员会, not for you, YangMuye. You provided a reliable source, thank you.)
    if someone asked me to pronounce 涌 in a very drawn-out, exaggerated way, I would come up something like [iː(j)oːŋ], with no rounding at the beginning, and not [yː(ɥ)oːŋ], with rounding throughout.
    The opposite here. I would do [yː(ɥ)oːŋ], not [iː(j)oːŋ]. Tarlou seems to have confirmed that [ioŋ] exists in 普通话. And I can testify that [yoŋ] is prescribed in 國語. Apparently both ways exist in Mandarin. Despite the dialectal differences, the underlying representation of that phoneme seems to be ù, as -iong (or yong) is classified under the ù category both in the Pinyin table and in the Zhuyinfuhao table.
     
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    Rethliopuks

    Member
    Mandarin
    To avoid confusion between u with n? That seems to be a very weak justification for such a big decision (That is a comment for 汉语拼音方案委员会, not for you, YangMuye. You provided a reliable source, thank you.)
    In fact Pinyin was originally designed to be a writing system to replace Hanzi, but such plan eventually was abandoned. So you can see why: there really are some people who would write u and n as almost the same(a и-ish appearance), such as if they are writing really fast. Any possibility that may cause such a great confusion shuold be eliminated.

    Though I doubt here... It would be perfectly fine even if ung were remained. there are no such ending as nng, nug or uug so no confusion would occur. I think here it's because they want to make Pinyin more regular--to represent [ʊ] as o uniformly, perhaps except in ou where oo would make things strange.
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    Thank you, YangMuye for the information and Rethliopukas for further explanations. And thank everyone for the help. Thanks.
     
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