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The Comparison Of Consonants In American English And Mandarin Chinese

938 words - 4 pages

The Comparison of Phonemes in American English and Mandarin Chinese
Both American English and Mandarin Chinese are universal spoken languages all around the world, and they are quite different in terms of phonemes. The sounds of all languages are divided into consonants and vowels. My goal in this paper is to compare some consonants and vowels in American English and Mandarin Chinese to better understand these two languages. The official phonetic system in China is Hanyu Pinyin. To make English and Chinese phonemes more comparable, I will use International Phonetic Alphabet in the paper.
Consonants are classified according to their place of articulation, manner of articulation, and ...view middle of the document...

Although they are both post-alveolar, we use the blade of tongue to produce /ʃ/ and the tip of tongue to produce /ɕ/. It is the same with /tʃ/ in English and /tɕʰ/ in Chinese. Besides, /θ/ and /ð/ in English are other examples. They are the most difficult English sounds for Chinese people. When pronouncing /θ/ and /ð/, the tip of the tongue goes between upper and lower teeth for a frication. This feature does not exist in Chinese consonants (Sun 7) and thus English beginners in China often pronounce these two sounds as /s/ and /ts/, which are articulated with the tongue at the alveolar ridge. We hear Chinese people pronounce “think” as “sink” because of this mistake. Similarly, Chinese people are often confused with the two pronunciations of English /l/. There is a distinctive difference between the sound of l in look and pull. Only the one close to the beginning of a syllable is the same as Chinese /l/. It is a lateral alveolar consonant. The other pronunciation of /l/ is called dark [ɫ]. It’s more similar to Chinese /ɻ/ which is also close to the end of a syllable. The two allophones of /l/ are both articulated with the tip of the tongue at the alveolar ridge. The difference is that the back of the tongue needs to be raised to produce dark [ɫ]. Lastly, /w/ is represented by the same symbol in English and Chinese. In fact, /w/ in Chinese also has two distinctive pronunciations. One is the same as English bilabial glide /w/, we can hear it when pronouncing [wang] and [wa]. The other one is more similar to English labial dental sound /v/. It appears in [wen] and [weng] (Bai 2). This change is an example of dentalization. Under certain condition, one sound is pronounced as a dental sound.
Vowels are classified according to their tongue height, part of the tongue involved and the shape of the mouth. Vowel systems of English and Chinese are different....

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