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What Are Tones in Mandarin
by Miss Lim Mandarin (MAMA)
Friday, 9 December 2022
Tones in Mandarin refer to the different pitches used when pronouncing a word. These pitches, when combined with the word's individual sounds, give the word its unique meaning. Without tones, Mandarin words would sound the same and be impossible to differentiate.
There are four tones in Mandarin: the high level tone, the rising tone, the falling-rising tone, and the falling tone. The high level tone is pronounced with a steady, even pitch. The rising tone starts low and then rises in pitch. The falling-rising tone starts high and then falls before rising again. The falling tone starts high and then falls in pitch.
For example, the word "ma" can be pronounced with any of the four tones, resulting in four different meanings. When pronounced with the high level tone, "ma" means "mother." When pronounced with the rising tone, "ma" means "hemp." When pronounced with the falling-rising tone, "ma" means "horse." And when pronounced with the falling tone, "ma" means "scold."
In addition to changing the meaning of a word, tones can also change the grammatical function of a word. For example, the word "bu" means "no" when pronounced with the high level tone, but when pronounced with the falling tone, it becomes a negative particle that is added to the end of a sentence to negate it.
Mandarin tones may seem difficult to learn at first, but they are an essential part of the language. Without them, spoken Mandarin would be impossible to understand. It is important for Mandarin learners to practice and master the tones in order to effectively communicate in the language.
Miss Lim has coached over 5000+ students in learning Malaysian Mandarin. She is a certified HRDCorp trainer and able to speak 5 languages which are Mandarin, Hokkien, Bahasa Malaysia, English, and Cantonese.
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