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View Poll Results: Which is the best sounding?
Japanese 33 91.67%
Chinese 3 8.33%
Voters: 36. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-24-2016, 05:45 PM
 
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I don't like the sound of both. The Japanese all sound like they are about to commit sapoku and Chinese just sound weird with their monosyllabic pronounciation.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:13 PM
 
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Japanese by a country mile. Even if you compare Japanese to say Korean a non tonal language, Japanese sound smoother by far!


I've said it again and again, Chinese and possibly all tonal languages should remove the tones! If anything, Chinese should have made Shanghainese the national language and worked off that!
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willister View Post
Japanese by a country mile. Even if you compare Japanese to say Korean a non tonal language, Japanese sound smoother by far!


I've said it again and again, Chinese and possibly all tonal languages should remove the tones! If anything, Chinese should have made Shanghainese the national language and worked off that!
Why should Chinese remove the tones? Just to please you? Lol

Old Chinese (spoken 2000 years ago) had no tones. The tone system was developed later. It makes Chinese much more efficient in terms of information per syllable.
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
Old Chinese (spoken 2000 years ago) had no tones. The tone system was developed later. It makes Chinese much more efficient in terms of information per syllable.
Isn't it the case, though, that even with tones there are still an excessive number of homophones in Chinese? For instance, I picked a syllable at random--x (second tone)--and it has 14 different meanings in my dictionary.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Isn't it the case, though, that even with tones there are still an excessive number of homophones in Chinese? For instance, I picked a syllable at random--x (second tone)--and it has 14 different meanings in my dictionary.
Most Chinese words are compound words, with at least two characters.
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Old 09-25-2016, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Taipei
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Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Isn't it the case, though, that even with tones there are still an excessive number of homophones in Chinese? For instance, I picked a syllable at random--x (second tone)--and it has 14 different meanings in my dictionary.
Yes but it's not like there's no homophone in other languages. You choose the word based on context.
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Old 09-25-2016, 11:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
Yes but it's not like there's no homophone in other languages. You choose the word based on context.
It's not difficult, either. I ran into the same problem with Japanese, and their insane reading rules for the Chinese characters, and my brain automatically knows which one is which, like I know how to read 学 correctly whether it's 学ぶ (mana bu) or 学校 (gakk ou). Even with homophones it's not difficult to know which one you need whether you're talking about chopsticks 箸 or road bridges 橋. You just get used to it via repeated exposure, and then you reach the point where you ever thought what the fuss was all about.
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Old 09-26-2016, 08:15 AM
 
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Yes, I know there are homophones in English, and I also know Japanese, and I know that people are not usually confused by homophones in everyday speech.

My point was simply that if tones were added to Chinese at a certain point in order to distinguish homophones (to make them "more efficient in terms of information per syllable"), then they have not really done that job very well. There are still 124 characters pronounced "xi" (according to my dictionary) and only four tones among them. The tonal system by itself is quite inadequate to make the distinction between syllables clear.

If I understand correctly, this is a major reason for the development of compound words in the history of Chinese--the impossibility of otherwise distinguishing homophones.

Last edited by saibot; 09-26-2016 at 08:23 AM..
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Old 09-26-2016, 08:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Yes, I know there are homophones in English, and I also know Japanese, and I know that people are not usually confused by homophones in everyday speech.

My point was simply that if tones were added to Chinese at a certain point in order to distinguish homophones (to make them "more efficient in terms of information per syllable"), then they have not really done that job very well. There are still 124 characters pronounced "xi" (according to my dictionary) and only four tones among them. The tonal system by itself is quite inadequate to make the distinction between syllables clear.

If I understand correctly, this is a major reason for the development of compound words in the history of Chinese--the impossibility of otherwise distinguishing homophones.
Tones were not added on purpose. It was just a result of natural evolution. Nobody designed tones or prescribed it.

Old Chinese has a much more complex syllable structure than later Chinese. For example, 各 was pronounced as something like "glak" in Old Chinese, so now we have 各格胳 as ge in Mandarin (gok in Cantonese) and 洛络骆 as luo in Mandarin (lok in Cantonese).

Old Chinese also had a rich affix system to derive words from the same root. Some scholars argue that a noun can become a verb by adding a suffix -s or something, and later it became changing of tones.

Some Sino-Tibetan languages of today also retain a rich inflection system. So a pronoun has different forms when it is a subject and object. Classic Chinese shows some evidence of that too.

Last edited by yueng-ling; 09-26-2016 at 08:49 AM..
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Old 09-26-2016, 05:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
Tones were not added on purpose. It was just a result of natural evolution. Nobody designed tones or prescribed it.

Old Chinese has a much more complex syllable structure than later Chinese. For example, 各 was pronounced as something like "glak" in Old Chinese, so now we have 各格胳 as ge in Mandarin (gok in Cantonese) and 洛络骆 as luo in Mandarin (lok in Cantonese).

Old Chinese also had a rich affix system to derive words from the same root. Some scholars argue that a noun can become a verb by adding a suffix -s or something, and later it became changing of tones.

Some Sino-Tibetan languages of today also retain a rich inflection system. So a pronoun has different forms when it is a subject and object. Classic Chinese shows some evidence of that too.
Interesting why tones were added, I find very few sources online which discusses the evolution of tones. One wonders what would happen if Chinese ever went down the polysyllabic route..which is pretty much all alphabet based systems went down - English, Korean etc.


From what I have read from scant sources online, there seems to be a correlation between tones and direction. Northern dialects seem to have fewer tones e.g. Mandarin with 4 (the 5th being neural) and Cantonese up to 8 in the South.


An interesting case is Dunggan dialect of Mandarin, it has three tones and now uses Cyrillic as a phonetic system. If it was ever reduced to two it would be a pitch accent system similar to Japanese. Hearing some youtube videos of people speaking Dunggan Mandarin, it sounds harsher and rougher somewhat but the speaker almost seem to be a non native speaker, he sounded as if he had a heavy middle eastern accent.


Again and again, I think the whole Chinese system was just never built for the commoner, but rather unity. It's characters is archaic and served the purpose back then, but tones got in the way of developing a alphabet based system. Had they gone down the polysyllabic route they could have developed an alphabet system which would be and still would be used today by the Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese.
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