Pronunciation: 小姐

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by James Bates, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. James Bates Banned

    English America
    My textbook says that the third tone turns into a second tone when followed by another third tone. The first syllable of xiǎojiě follows this rule but for some reason the second syllable seems to lose its tone and become neutral. Can somebody help me out?
  2. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    There's a recent thread on this (, but it's quite confusing there, so here is a direct reply for you:
    1. A third tone, when followed by another third tone, changes into second tone, and that is correct. So, you've got "xiáojiě".
    2. The last syllable of frequently used polysyllabic words tends to lose it tone, turning into neutral. That is the reason for "xiáojiě" to become "xiáojie".
    The above is all you need to know, and don't listen to anyone telling you otherwise! ;)
  3. shiyii

    shiyii Member

    Hey,can I say that you really don't have to focus on this kind of details?Nobody would find the difference between "xiáojiě" and "xiáojie", it's just like in English,when you pronounce the word"eleven",you can say either [ɪˈlɛvən]or[əˈlɛvən],nothing serious.
  4. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    I always wonder, xiaolijie, how should we pronounce YOUR name... :p
  5. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    The name is fictional... :p Say it the way you say 小理解.

    To learners of Chinese: if a string of characters has more than 2 third tones in a row, the patterns of sound sandhi may be different depending on how you break the phrase up and the tempo of your speech. In the case of 小理解, it can be pronounced as xiǎo/líjiě or, if you speak quickly without a break, xiáolíjiě.
  6. James Bates Banned

    English America
    Thanks everybody!

    xiaolijie, so 明白 should be pronounced with a second tone on the first syllable and a neutral on the second, since it is a commonly-used word, right? If I were to pronounce it míngbái instead of míngbai, would I sound like a foreigner?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2013
  7. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    That's right. The common pronunciation for 明白 is "míngbai", but I believe people in many areas of China (ie., the South) also pronounce it as "míngbái".
    Talking of sounding like a foreigner, most of us do sound like a foreigner because Chinese is a foreign language to us :)
  8. tarlou Senior Member

    Strictly speaking, 明白 is not the same as 小姐. The standard (if we consider an official dictionary as the standard) sound of 明白 is ming2bai, while the standard sound of 小姐 is xiao3jie3 (and this is also my personal feeling). Common words are neutralized, but that's just a phenomenon. There are standard pronunciations for each word (although people may not follow in daily life). Northern people do too many neutral sounds, while southern people do too few neutral sounds. In fact the differences are not so clear if you speak fast.
  9. liannaly Member


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