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Pronunciation variant

(Redirected from Tone exception)
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
办公室 bàngōngshì bàngōngshǐ
曝光 bàoguāng pùguāng
秘鲁 Bìlǔ Mìlǔ
比较 bǐjiào bǐjiǎo
惩罚 chéngfá chěngfá
乘务员 chéngwùyuán chèngwùyuán
成绩 chéngjì chéngjī
出血 chūxiě, chūxuè chūxuě
档案 dàng'àn dǎng'àn
蛋挞 dàntà dàntǎ
符合 fúhé fǔhé
复杂 fùzá fǔzá
狗狗 gǒugou gǒugóu
骨头 gǔtou gútou
好莱坞 Hǎoláiwù Hǎoláiwū
馄饨 húntun húndùn
结果 jiéguǒ jiēguǒ
结束 jiéshù jiésù
角色 juésè jiǎosè
尽管 jǐnguǎn jìnguǎn
尽量 jǐnliàng jìnliàng
勉强 miǎnqiǎng miǎnqiáng
昵称 nìchēng níchēng
文件夹 wénjiànjiā wénjiànjiá
下载 xiàzài xiàzǎi
纤维 xiānwéi qiānwéi
业绩 yèjì yèjī
因为 yīnwèi yīnwéi
油炸 yóuzhá yóuzhà
脂肪 zhīfáng zhǐfáng
质量 zhìliàng zhǐliàng
主意 zhǔyi zhúyi

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" (everyone says "xiàzǎi"), 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.