Pronunciation: 正月

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by yuechu, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. yuechu Senior Member

    Canada, English

    The first month of the Chinese lunar year 正月 is pronounced, according to dictionaries, as "zheng1yue4". However, I think I remember someone pronouncing it as zheng4yue4 before and gave me the explanation that it is also correct because it is the older pronunciation (the character's pronunciation changing because of 避讳 of 秦始皇's given name 政; changing from 政月 zheng4yue4).

    Although this may be historically true, is zheng4yue4 still a common pronunciation in standard Mandarin/recommended pronunciation for etymological reasons? (or is the recommended pronunciation still zheng1yue4?)

  2. chlorophylle Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    is zheng4yue4 still a common pronunciation in standard Mandarin/recommended pronunciation for etymological reasons?

    (or is the recommended pronunciation still zheng1yue4?)
  3. yuechu Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Thanks for the confirmation, chlorophylle!
  4. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    Either is fine, zheng1 is standard, though I pronounce it zheng4 zhen4 :p
  5. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    I just took the Putonghua test...I think you have to read zheng1 for the test. Most of my friends pronounce zheng1. Some say zheng4, also understandable.
  6. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    BTW, that anecdote about Qinshihuang changed 政月 to 正月 can't be true, or at least, it's nothing to do with the pronunciation, because at that time, there was no Mandarin, and neither 正 or 政 is pronounced as zheng4 or zheng1. There was actually no [ng] and [zh] in ancient Chinese language. Both were later influenced by nomadic invaders from the North (the very reason why they do not exist in Southern dialects, Cantonese, Wu-Chinese, etc).
  7. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    This is gonna be a little off-topic.
    At the time of Qinshihuang Old Chinese(上古汉语)was spoken. Nobody knows precisely how it was pronounced.
    Though most scholars agree that 古无舌上音 (no retroflex consonants such as zh), but Old Chinese had probably compound consonants, similar to English, such as tr, kl, mr, etc.
    But according scholars' reconstructions, Old Chinese had far more rhymes than today's Chinese, with not only -n and -ng as codas, but even -m, -x, -gh, -gw, dx, -p, -t, -k, -b, -d, -g, etc. See this.
    Are you sure?
    1. The distinction between 前鼻音 (en) and 后鼻音 (eng) has been lost only in Wu Chinese. But it exists in Cantonese! Furthermore, Cantonese has even another nasal coda: -m.

    2. Middle Chinese (中古汉语) had -n, -ng and -m codas, same as Cantonese, plus the 入声 that was also the same as Cantonese, with -p, -t, -k. See here.

    3. Middle Chinese had even more retroflex consonants(卷舌音)than today's Mandarin! It even had retroflex consonants such as ʈ, ʈʰ, ɖ, ɳ, dʐ plus the modern tʂ, tʂʰ, ʂ, ʐ (Pinyin: zh, ch, sh, r). See here.
    E.g. 中 had ʈ consonant (retroflex version of t), then it became tʂ (pinyin: zh) in Mandarin, ts in Cantonese and some Wu dialects, tɕ in some other Wu dialects, and t in Min (de-retroflexed).

    4. It's a common misconception that Northern Chhinese was influenced by the nomadic invaders, on the Internet I've seen plenty of this idea. Probably you even think that "Mandarin" means 满大人? :eek:
    It's true that Northern dialects had influences from Mongolians and Manchu(满族), such as the word 胡同 is of Mongolic origin. But anciently, the Han language originated in Central China(中原)then when it came to the South, it assimilated the local 百越族, of which still remains a substratum. So, if you think this way, neither Northern nor Southern are pure Hanzu.
    For some features Mandarin is closer to Middle Chinese (e.g. retroflex consonants), for other features Wu is closer (e.g. preservation of voiced consonants), for other features Cantonese is closer (nasal codas and 入声), for other features Min is closer (more similar consonants, such as ʈ->t).
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  8. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    ^Cantonese keeps the most complete final sound among all Chinese dialects, while Wu keeps the most complete initial consonant. And yes, as for the [ng], it exists actually even in the Wu-Chinese as an initial consonant (Mandarin does not have [ng] as an initial consonant). Suzhou dialect has retroflex consonants too, but quite different than the retroflex consonants in Mandarin and probably has different origin. For [n], [m], [ng] as final consonant, I was wrong (damn it), they did exist in the middle Chinese and Wu lost [ng], in Mandarin they are merged together, I remember Japanese lost [m] and merges [n] and [ng].

    I did not say anything like Mandarin = Manchu, or implied any, or imply one is superior than the other. English has words from Viking influence too. But the fact is Northern Chinese dialects, including Mandarin, have more influence from nomadic languages and less structured than others. Not only their pronunciations, but also vocabularies, as you mentioned. You will find far more words in Mandarin, that has the same 声旁 (in traditional characters of course) but different pronunciation. In Wu, it is more consistent, especially if you pronounce them in 白读.

    As for the influence of 百越, that is quite a different scenario, since most of it happened even before the forge of old Chinese (before Qin Dynasty), not to mention that 百越 and 华夏 these 2 tribes probably have the same originality and so are their languages. It is like saying Japanese language was influenced by Ise, while modern Japanese is actually formed from both Yamato and Ise and other tribes...
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2014
  9. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    ok, hkenneth. I just wanted to make clear that [ng] and [zh] are not influences from the nomadic invaders.
    Actually it's the opposite. Shanghainese has nasalised vowels and [ng] final. No [n] final.
    At least that's what phonetic studies say.
    I also always thought that we had only [n] and no [ng]
    I think the [ng] final of the Wu is not as stron as the Mandarin or the Cantonese's one.
  10. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    ^Is R-ending retroflexion derived from nomadic influence? and where does [zh] come from?

    I don't think it is 100% correct to say that Shanghainese has [ng] final (if you compare it with standard Mandarin carefully, you will find that it is actually neither [n] or [ng] but in the middle of both). But, the [n] final (or whatever you call it) in Shanghainese does come from the merge of [n] [ng] final in middle Chinese (aka, there is no difference in pronunciation of 青/亲), while the [m] final in middle Chinese is lost. It is also quite interesting that in Japanese, [ng] is lost and [m] [n] are merged to become [n].
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2014
  11. Nina1922 New Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Mandarin Chinese
    “正月”在历史上是为了避讳秦始皇“嬴政”之名才读zheng1的,在普通话考试中也读zheng1。读“zhēng yuè”是正确的。

    btw, can you read Chinese? If not, I can write in English again.

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