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Jens
2010-Jul-26, 09:49 AM
This is sort of an informal poll, just something I've been wondering about. Without bothering to look it up when you pronounce Beijing, would you normally pronounce the "jing" as in "jingle" or with a soft sound, like in "Asia"? I'm sort of wondering because I know the correct answer, but actually I tend to mispronounce it myself even knowing that I'm mispronouncing it, and wonder if others do the same.

ETA: Dumb me, I messed up the poll. There should have been a third option, "inconsistently." Otherwise I can't answer the poll myself.:doh:

Strange
2010-Jul-26, 09:55 AM
Maybe you should have included the option "Peking" as well, for the diehards ("if it was good enough for grandpa...")

WaxRubiks
2010-Jul-26, 10:50 AM
I put j, as in 'jingle', but I'm not sure now; probably should have put j- as in Asia....

Jens
2010-Jul-26, 11:09 AM
I put j, as in 'jingle', but I'm not sure now; probably should have put j- as in Asia....

No, you're right to pronounce it that way. For some reason, people (including myself) tend to pronounce it like in Asia, and I'm not sure why. It may simply be an inference from the word "Asia." The correct pronunciation of Beijing is very close to saying "paging" in English, with the sole difference that the "b" isn't aspirated, but we can't tell the difference anyway so we'd hear it as a p.

DonM435
2010-Jul-26, 12:46 PM
Of course it's, like, in Asia. Like, look at the map!

-- Speed Reader

Spoons
2010-Jul-26, 01:15 PM
I used to say it Bay-jing, but in recent times when I read it I hear with a softer 'j', not quite as in asia, somewhere in between. I think this is most likely due to the way it's commonly referenced in news coverage. Don has a point though...

Mind you, I would've gone the third option if it'd been there. Change is as good as a jingle in your pocket.

grant hutchison
2010-Jul-26, 01:27 PM
The BBC's pronunciation guide gives the hard "j" as correct, and describes the softer "zh" sound as a common error.

Grant Hutchison

Ronald Brak
2010-Jul-26, 03:32 PM
Intonation goes down and then up on the Bei and the jing is a monotone pronounced at a higher pitch than the Bei. And the jing part is pronounced similar to jing.

Strange
2010-Jul-26, 03:45 PM
The BBC's pronunciation guide gives the hard "j" as correct, and describes the softer "zh" sound as a common error.

And on a recent BBC program where they were discussing the pronunciation of foreign names, the presenter consistently got it wrong!

SeanF
2010-Jul-26, 03:49 PM
Intonation goes down and then up on the Bei and the jing is a monotone pronounced at a higher pitch than the Bei. And the jing part is pronounced similar to jing.
I agree with this, although the last sentence is somewhat circular. :) Did you mean to type "jingle"?

forrest noble
2010-Jul-26, 04:01 PM
Inadvertent double post

forrest noble
2010-Jul-26, 04:16 PM
I have studied Mardarin off and on for several years. Of course the pronunciation of Beijing as well as any other Chinese word, has to do with whether you are pronouncing it in English or in Mandarin Chinese. There are also minor variations to the pronunciation depending on different Mandarin dialects. Pinyin is the name given for written Mandarin using the western alphabet. It is written as: Běijīng . The most important pronunciation is the difference in intonation between the two syllables. This change of intonation is a very important part of the Chinese language(s). The Bě is spoken with a comparatively low pitch voice and the jīng with a comparatively high pitch voice. For most words in Chinese if you don't use the proper intonation regardless of your pronunciation you will not be understood. This is because the same one syllable word can have incredibly 56 different meanings. They add ad adjective to clarify the meaning when needed. For instance the word (not a root word) shu (pronounced shoe) has many different meanings. If you pronounce it with a high pitch voice (shū) it has a group of meanings, with a low pitch voice (shǔ) another group, with a rising inflection (sh) other meanings, and with a falling inflection (sh) others again. The low pitch annunciation starts at a middle pitch range, falls to a low pitch and then quickly rises to a middle pitch again. Another variable as to meaning is the context of the sentence. As in English the word can have different meanings depending of the sentence. If you just said shu in Chinese and the listener heard nothing else that you spoke they would hardly have a clue concerning what you were saying.

You can understand what I just said by looking at the table below concerning the different meanings of the one syllable word shu (shoe). There were only a few of these meanings that I knew off-hand.

shū is the high pitch pronunciation,

Trad. Simp. Pinyin English
倏 shū sudden; abrupt
叔 shū uncle in direct address
姝 shū pretty woman
抒 shū to strain; pour out
摴 shū dice; gambling; to release
攄 摅 shū set forth; to spread
書 书 shū book; letter
杸 shū to kill; a spear
梳 shū comb
樞 枢 shū hinge; pivot
殊 shū unique
殳 shū (surname); spear
毹 shū rug
疏 shū negligent; sparse; thin
紓 纾 shū slow; to free from
綀 shū a kind of sackcloth
舒 shū (surname); relax
蔬 shū vegetables
輸 输 shū to transport; to lose
塾 sh private tutorage
孰 sh who; which; what
熟 sh familiar; skilled; ripe; done; ripe; cooked
秫 sh Panicum italicum
襡 sh short skirt or tunic
贖 赎 sh redeem; to ransom
屬 属 shǔ belong to; category; be subordinate to; genus (taxonomy); be born in the year of (one of the 12 animals); family members; dependants
數 数 shǔ to count
暑 shǔ heat; hot weather; summer heat
曙 shǔ dawn; the dawn of a new epoch (metaphor)
癙 shǔ hidden; secret; scrofula
署 shǔ office; bureau
薯 shǔ potato; yam
藷 shǔ potato; yam
蜀 shǔ Sichuan
钃 shǔ metal
黍 shǔ broomcorn millet; glutinous millet
鼠 shǔ rat; mouse
儵 sh alternate form of 倏; sudden; abrupt
墅 sh villa
庶 sh ordinary
恕 sh forgive
戍 sh garrison
數 数 sh number; figure; to count; to calculate; several
朮 术 sh method; technique
束 sh bunch; (a measure word); to bind; to control
樹 树 sh tree
沭 sh river in Shandong
漱 sh to rinse (mouth)
澍 sh moisture; timely rain
翛 sh hastiness
術 术 sh method; technique
裋 sh coarse clothing of camel's hair
豎 竖 sh (straight down character stroke); to erect; vertical
述 sh to state; to tell; to narrate; to relate
鉥 sh acmite

----------------------------------------------------------

As to the J in Běijīng, it cannot be pronounced correctly by an English speaker without training. When speaking Běijīng with an English/ American accent, the J is pronounced hard like in Jingle. In Chinese the pronunciation of the j is just a little different. In books in Pinyin they use the English equivalent as zh. That's a phonetic approximation. To my ear and according to my memory it might be thought of as a cross between zh and and hard J, maybe similar to a cross between the pronunciation of the French and English word "genre" (zhn'rə), a hard J, and the ds in suds.

Cantonese is spoken in southern China and the pronunciations (as well as many of the words) are quite different from Mandarin, maybe something like the auditory differences between Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. They speak Cantonese in Hong Kong (which is in southern China). Beijing is of course the capital of the entire country. In Hong Kong they pronounce Beijing as Peking. A close approximation to the Cantonese pronunciation and name for the city is (”puck-ing” with a hard “p”). That's where we got the previous English spelling and pronunciation of the capital -- as Peking (anglicized as payking), since England controlled Hong Kong for a 99 year lease from 1898 to 1997 and the Cantonese spelling and pronunciation was familiar to English speakers in the last century.

After reading the above paragraph most readers will probably understand why most English speakers did not/ do not pronounce Běijīng City the Cantonese way :) :)

Strange
2010-Jul-26, 04:38 PM
In Chinese the pronunciation of the j is somewhat different. In books in Pinyin they use the English equivalent as zh.

I was under the impression that the pinyin 'j' and 'zh' represented different sounds? (similarly, the x/sh and q/ch pairs)

forrest noble
2010-Jul-26, 05:29 PM
Strange,


I was under the impression that the pinyin 'j' and 'zh' represented different sounds? (similarly, the x/sh and q/ch pairs)

You are correct. There is a difference.

The top link below tells simply to pronounce the J the same as in English in the word Beijing. My Mandarin book and Chinese teacher use the zh, and accordingly the J in Beijing has a slightly different sound, maybe a cross between a hard j and the French Ge. This top link vidio simply says J, as in jingle. She (Chinese teacher) showed me how to form the tongue in the mouth to accordingly get the correct sound. Maybe only a native speaker could tell the subtle difference. Besides that, there are probably a lot of minor variations between the many Chinese dialects.

The second link is another excellent link that talks about the differences between the pronunciation of the j and zh. It has audios and also uses the word similar so that one might correctly understand that such pronunciations from the English are slightly different from Mandarin and that native speakers could probably tell the difference in many cases.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GE4dkpOdPw

http://mandarin.about.com/od/pronunciation/l/blsounds.htm