Changing one's accent

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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby darienpeak » 16 Jul 2012, 01:31

tommy525 wrote:I don't think I could stand being married to a girl speaking singlish. Give me pidgeon english any day over that shizzle.


Cheehong! Dis point not very nice one lah!
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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby ironlady » 16 Jul 2012, 02:31

Confuzius wrote:When I started studying Chinese here (around 6 months ago now) after the first lesson the laoban at where I get tutored said something really smart (since I was learning around 100+ vocab words a day at that point and struggling to get all the tones right) he said something along the lines of "don't worry about whether something is 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th tone necessarily, pay attention to how it sounds, its correct pronunciation and then say it correctly." (he can give a shoutout if he wants but I will not defame his character by associating him with me :roflmao: ). Of course, that pronunciation INCLUDES the tone, but it is not necessarily a piece of information you have to include on your mental spreadsheet for every single character.


Yes, tones do become intuitive -- but ONLY if the student gets enough repetitions of EACH word so as to acquire the word, tones and all. Very, very few (if any) buxiban programs provide this sort of input.

Your argument doesn't support the idea that tones aren't important -- it's simply saying that consciously knowing which tone something is is not important. That's true. But performing the tones correctly (unless one has absolutely perfect word choice and grammar, and sometimes even then) is crucial to being understood, especally by people with less experience speaking Mandarin to non-native speakers (which in Taiwan is quite a lot of people.)
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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby Confuzius » 16 Jul 2012, 09:23

ironlady wrote:
Confuzius wrote:When I started studying Chinese here (around 6 months ago now) after the first lesson the laoban at where I get tutored said something really smart (since I was learning around 100+ vocab words a day at that point and struggling to get all the tones right) he said something along the lines of "don't worry about whether something is 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th tone necessarily, pay attention to how it sounds, its correct pronunciation and then say it correctly." (he can give a shoutout if he wants but I will not defame his character by associating him with me :roflmao: ). Of course, that pronunciation INCLUDES the tone, but it is not necessarily a piece of information you have to include on your mental spreadsheet for every single character.


Yes, tones do become intuitive -- but ONLY if the student gets enough repetitions of EACH word so as to acquire the word, tones and all. Very, very few (if any) buxiban programs provide this sort of input.

Your argument doesn't support the idea that tones aren't important


True that, I wasn't saying they are not important, it was more a comment on how one goes about learning them.

ironlady wrote:-- it's simply saying that consciously knowing which tone something is is not important.


True dat.

ironlady wrote: That's true. But performing the tones correctly (unless one has absolutely perfect word choice and grammar, and sometimes even then) is crucial to being understood, especally by people with less experience speaking Mandarin to non-native speakers (which in Taiwan is quite a lot of people.)


I would say about 80% crucial.

I honestly think it is more crucial for LISTENING than for speaking from my experience. If I mess up a tone (especially if my word order is perfect) doesn't seem AS MUCH of a problem as it is for MY trying to understand other speakers. When I forget a tone, it may stop me in my tracks for a second while I then have to figure out which word they are saying. When one gets the tones all down, it seems that listening goes much much faster.

Though for the life of me, I cannot understand other foreigners speaking Chinese, even if their Chinese is very good. Maybe I have become Taiwanese :P or maybe I am just so used to listening to native speakers that a foreign accent throws me, dunno. Still learning...
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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby R_jay » 16 Jul 2012, 10:00

tommy525 wrote:Singlish? Grating to the ears and incomprehensible when they are angry ! I don't think I could stand being married to a girl speaking singlish. Give me pidgeon english any day over that shizzle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cZ3WoQe3nI

Plus some are becoming weirder and weirder people living in a small cramped "utopian" environment.

this kids commentary is understandable tho, maybe because of more American influence?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjqZcdpF ... re=related


You get used to it. And anyone educated can speak perfectly standard English if they choose to. I personally find Americans saying "like" almost, like, every third word much more irritating.
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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby archylgp » 16 Jul 2012, 13:20

Confuzius wrote:
Chris wrote:
Dragonbones wrote:For instance, I overheard one French banker here about 15 years ago proudly telling others at a wedding banquet that the secret to his "success" in learning Mandarin was to just ignore the tones completely. (I also heard him speak in Mandarin, and between the strong French accent and the lack of tones, it was quite a struggle to comprehend much.)

That's one thing that drives me nuts: non-native Chinese speakers/learners who claim that you can ignore the tones. You can't. They're key in making yourself understood. It's like deciding to ignore all consonant voicing in English: imagine talking about drugs when the listener thinks you're talking about trucks.

Though it's possible to understand atonal Chinese given sufficient context, most people who ignore tones end up pronouncing words not atonally, but wrong-tonally, and end up saying things like "background" instead of "Beijing".

Accents can be overcome, but it has to be a conscious effort.


I honestly do not think it is so black and white: tones or no tones.

When I started studying Chinese here (around 6 months ago now) after the first lesson the laoban at where I get tutored said something really smart (since I was learning around 100+ vocab words a day at that point and struggling to get all the tones right) he said something along the lines of "don't worry about whether something is 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th tone necessarily, pay attention to how it sounds, its correct pronunciation and then say it correctly." (he can give a shoutout if he wants but I will not defame his character by associating him with me :roflmao: ). Of course, that pronunciation INCLUDES the tone, but it is not necessarily a piece of information you have to include on your mental spreadsheet for every single character.

And when I speak, people understand me without a problem! The only exception might be when I am teaching English and I throw in a random Chinese word out of the blue (ie the students do not expect me to switch to Chinese and there is no context) sometimes I have remember the exact tone and repeat the word enunciating the tones correctly. But when I am out on the street, conversing with people at coffee shops, at the Buddhist temple discussing the dharma or out apartment hunting and talking to security guards, potential neighbors and landlords, everyone always understands exactly what I say without a second's hesitation.

It seems (to me from my limited time studying SPOKEN Mandarin vs reading classical chinese) that the tones eventually become more intuitive than anything else. So its not so black and white...


True. You will eventually not think about tones, but the thing is, you're still using them. So they are important.
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Re: Changing one's accent

Postby Paddy Joe » 20 Jul 2012, 14:18

It is possible to change a thick accent to one that is more accurate. It takes a great effort on your part and you kind of have to slow things down and sometimes take a couple of steps back. Prepare what you say before you say it with the tones nailed in your mind. After you say something, try to correct any wrong tones you noticed in your mind. Use flashcards to review words, and don't consider an answer to be correct unless you have absolutely nailed the tones. Also, you've got to work on your Chinese vowel sounds. These tend to carry a lot of native language interference, so drill those basic sounds over and over until it's so cemented in your mind that when you say it wrong it "feels" wrong. Again, slow down and be conscious of what you sound like. Do this for as long as it takes to correct your bad pronunciation habits, and then keep doing it.

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This post was recommended by archylgp (21 Jul 2012, 11:47)
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