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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn 6 Chinese consonants.
-r, x, sh, r-, j, q
These consonant sounds do not appear in English, so they'll likely be new to you.
Be sure to practice them because these are unique sounds which learners often get wrong!
Are you ready? Then let's get started!
The first consonant is...
哪儿 nǎr "where"
一点儿 yīdiǎnr "a little"
没事儿 méishì'r "It's ok."
This consonant sound is special because it only occurs at the end of a word, and in certain dialects, you may not hear it at all.
(Retroflex approximant) You can think of this consonant as an overexaggerated R-sound.
American speakers can typically produce this sound when saying the word 'error'.
To get a better understanding of what this feels like, trying saying the word very slowly, while exaggerating the R-sound.
Focus on the double R at the beginning of the word.
Your tongue should be curled upwards, just past your gum ridge.
Listen to how Yinru pronounces this sound.
ɻ, ɻ (slowly)
ɻ, ɻ (slowly)
The next two sounds that we'll tackle are often very difficult for English speakers to differentiate. So pay extra attention!
Both of these consonants sound like the 'sh' in sheep, however they not the same. Be extra careful because it's *essential* that you distinguish between the two following sounds.
The first 'sh' sounding consonant is...
西安 Xī'ān (Xi'an)
小 xiǎo
谢谢 xièxie "thanks"
(Voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant) This sounds like an S-sound mixed with a little bit of an SH-sound.
It's best to think of this consonant as a constricted SH-sound, or as if you were trying to 'hush' an S.
One trick to producing this sound, is to try and say the word 'ship' while keeping the tip of your tongue in contact with the bottom teeth at all times, and using the blade of your tongue to produce the hushing sound. Do not protrude your lips as you would in English, they should remain spreaded."
ɕ, ɕ (slowly)
ɕ, ɕ (slowly)
The second 'sh' sounding consonant is...
石 shí
上海 Shànghǎi
神圣 shénshèng "sacred"
(Voiceless retroflex sibilant) This sounds like an overexaggerated sh-sound.
The easiest way to pronounce this consonant, is to first try and pronounce an R-sound. Now, with your tongue in that position, try to make a 'sh' sound at the same time.
It's kind of like you're saying the word 'sure'. Got it?
Your tongue should be curled upwards. In fact, it should be in exactly the same position as the overexaggerated R that we just learned at the beginning of this lesson!
Now listen to how Yinru says it.
ʂ, ʂ (slowly)
ʂ, ʂ (slowly)
The next consonant is...
肉 ròu
热 rè "hot"
日本人 Rìběnrén "Japanese people"
(Voiced retroflex sibilant) This is identical to the previous sound.
The only difference is that this consonant is voiced. Meaning that you should feel vibrations coming from your throat.
It almost sounds like a mix of an R and a Z-sound. Listen to how Yinru pronounces this sound.
ʐ, ʐ (slowly)
ʐ, ʐ (slowly)
Do you remember the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds?
Aspirated consonants have a burst or release of air, while unaspirated sounds do not.
The next two sounds distinguish between the two, so pay close attention!
The aspirated one is...
北京 Běijīng
姐姐 jiějie "elder sister"
再见 zàijiàn "goodbye"
(Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate) This sound is like a combination between a T-sound, and the constricted sh-sound that you learned earlier.
Try to keep the tip of your tongue behind the bottom teeth and use the blade of your tongue to make the contact instead. Additionally, this is an unaspirated sound, so you don't want to blow out a puff of air. Otherwise, you'd be saying a different word!"
t͡ɕ, t͡ɕ (slowly)
t͡ɕ, t͡ɕ (slowly)
The unaspirated one is...
钱 qián
去 qù "to go to"
请 qǐng "please"
(Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate aspirated) This sound is identical to the previous one, however the difference is that it's the aspirated counterpart. Meaning, you want to release a burst of air.
Listen to how Yinru says it and try to hear the difference.
t͡ɕʰ, t͡ɕʰ (slowly)
t͡ɕʰ, t͡ɕʰ (slowly)
Well done! You just learned another 6 Chinese consonants.
-r, x, sh, r-, j, q
These consonant sounds do not appear in English, so be sure to practice them!
In the next lesson, you'll learn 5 more Chinese consonants that are unique to English speakers.
How do these sounds compare to the ones you learned in the previous lesson? Please comment and share your thoughts.
See you in the next Ultimate Chinese Pronunciation Guide lesson!