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Archive for the ‘BUSINESS COMMUNICATION FOR NON-NATIVE SPEAKERS OF ENGLISH’ Category

Challenges of English Pronunciation for Chinese Speakers

Posted by Nara Venditti on May 15, 2011

 There are many Chinese dialects, Northern Chinese, or Mandarin, being the native tongue of 70% Chinese speakers. When speaking English, some mistakes are common to many Chinese speakers, however, they vary by region. For example, people from Liaoning or Shanong provinces may have different problems from Fujian or Guangdong provinces. What are the differences between Mandarin Chinese and English? The most notable difference is what role pitch (or musical intonation) plays in both languages. Pitch (musical intonation or tone) has different roles in English and Chinese. • In English, pitch is used to express emotion or used for emphasis. Often many Chinese speakers lack natural English language music and adopt monotone intonation. • In Chinese, pitch will change word meaning. A good example is the word “ma” which has three different meanings depending on the tone. Chinese speakers may have the following top pronunciation challenges • Difficulty distinguishing and pronouncing the N sound. For instance, “nice” may be pronounced as “lice”, • Difficulty distinguishing and pronouncing the R sound, “surprise” may be pronounced as “supplies” • Tendency to omit final consonant or substitute it with a vowel. Because many Chinese characters start with a consonant and end with vowels or a nasal sound /n/ or /ng/, Chinese speakers often omit final consonants or substitute it with a vowel, For instance, “tell him” may become “teo him,” “about” – “abou”. • Chinese speakers often pronounce /R/” as /W/ at the beginning or middle of the word. For instance, “row” may become “wow” and “grow” – “gwow”.

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