tones

All posts tagged tones

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Ask Nincha: [tone sandhi] Why are there tone changes in Chinese?

We’ve decided to debut a new type of posts: Ask Nincha, where we share and answers questions our Chinese learners have asked us. This week, thanks to Philippe, we’re exploring why sometimes tones are different when written and when pronounced. Read on to learn why there are tone changes in Mandarin and what tone sandhi is all about!

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NinchaneseAsk Nincha: [tone sandhi] Why are there tone changes in Chinese?
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Mime your way to spot-on tones!

Our last article talked about tones, and how important they are in Chinese language. Especially if you’re planning on being understood in China! Now, on to another important point: How to get your tones right when speaking Chinese.

First off, for those of us that come from non-tonal languages, trying to think about making a sound and modulating the tone of your voice to go up and down is a process that we are utterly unused to. It doesn’t come naturally. But, fret not. You can learn tones. And here’s how.

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NinchaneseMime your way to spot-on tones!
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Chinese tones: Oops, that’s the wrong tone!

Think tones don’t matter when speaking Chinese? Wait til you get to China and try to say something. Odds are you’ll draw blank stares and shrugs because no one can understand what you’re saying. Or worse, you might suddenly get insulted, for a seemingly unknown reason! The culprit? Your Chinese tones!

Those five little accents are key to being understood in China and maintaining peaceful interactions with people. This is a lesson I learned the hard way when I first moved to China…

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NinchaneseChinese tones: Oops, that’s the wrong tone!