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Tuesday, 29th November 2022

Irish Born Chinese

Some of the hardest languages for English speakers

Created Tuesday, 22nd December 2009, 11:06 by whykay
(NOTE: This is a migrated article from the old IBC blog)

I knew it, even Cantonese is featured in it.

Yet much more exotic vowels exist, for example that carry tones: pitch that rises, falls, dips, stays low or high, and so on. Mandarin, the biggest language in the Chinese family, has four tones, so that what sounds just like “ma” in English has four distinct sounds, and meanings. That is relatively simple compared with other Chinese varieties. Cantonese has six tones, and Min Chinese dialects seven or eight. One tone can also affect neighbouring tones’ pronunciation through a series of complex rules.

Read more from The Economist.