- Also known as: irregular tones, 不规范声调.
There are certain words in modern Mandarin which are pronounced one way according to almost any standard dictionary, but are pronounced differently in the speech of most native speakers. Often it is simply a different tone; other times there are greater differences.
What can make these "pronunciation variants" particularly frustrating for learners is that some Chinese teachers will teach to the dictionary, denying the fact of what most Chinese people actually say. (It can even feel like a conspiracy theory at times!) A good teacher will point out the discrepancy between what the dictionary says and what most native speakers actually say, however. Since the dictionary is of little help in this situation, the list below should help you keep your sanity.
The Pronunciation Variant List
|Word||Dictionary Says||People Pronounce It|
A Note on "People Pronounce It"
The "People Pronounce It" column could be a bit misleading. Note that it doesn't say "ALL People Pronounce It" or "MOST People Pronounce It" or even "SOME People Pronounce It", because it really depends on the word. So while almost no one pronounces 下载 as "xiàzài" (almost everyone says "xiàzǎi" in natural speech), it's not nearly as one-sided for 脂肪 and "zhīfáng" vs. "zhǐfáng". We don't currently have a good data-backed way to indicate to what degree the "People Pronounce It" pronunciation is bucking the trend, but at least we can record the major trends here.