High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Discussions on the Cantonese language.
Eugene Morrow

High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Eugene Morrow » Wed May 02, 2001 8:26 am

I am currently learning Cantonese from two courses which are both on tape. I have a question about the high falling tone.
One course is from the US Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and was prepared in 1970. This course teaches SEVEN tones. This course has a textbook that uses the Yale Romanisation. The word for three ('saam') is high falling. I cannot reproduce Yale romanisation in this font, but hopefully you'll get the idea.
The second course is the Pimsleur course prepared in 1998. This course teaches only SIX tones. There is no textbook - it is sounds only.
The difference? The Pimsleur course (more modern) does NOT have a high falling tone. So the word for three ('saam') is high level in Pimsleur, rather than high falling in the FSI course.
Question to cantonese native speakers: is there a high falling tone anymore? Does it matter?
I am confused, because the word for think and the word for poem (syllable 'si') would sound the same under the Pimsleur system (both high level). However, under the FSI system the think would be high falling and poem would be high level.
I will be sad if the high falling has dissappeared. I think Cantonese is very elegant and musical, and losing a tone is losing some of the spirit.
Eugene Morrow

lisa c

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby lisa c » Thu May 03, 2001 12:14 am

I don't know either one of the courses, and I haven't formally studied Cantonese, but I think there still a high falling tone is one although it does kind of blend in. Think and poem do have have different tones although I think the tones are more obvious when used in a sentence.
Surfing the net I think some sites say there are 8 tones.

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Thu May 03, 2001 11:11 pm

The High-falling tone is no longer distinguishable from the high-level tone in Hong Kong Cantonese, which the Pimsleur is probably based on. The FSI programme is really old, and perhaps the high-falling tone was still a feature of Hongkong Cantonese at that time. Present Hongkong Cantonese only has 6 tones which are distinguishable from one another. Whilst other dialects of Cantonese may have as many as 9 distinctly different tones, such as the Cantonese spoken in GuangXi province, and that of the Guangzhou province. But whereas these tones may be heard with a native ear, a foreign one might have trouble distinguishing these tones from the others. 'SI' to think and poem, a dialect which still retains its seven or more tones may distinguish it by tone, in Hongkong Cantonese the loss of the high-falling, and probably unpopularity of one usage of the word has meant that one tone has become dominant, the high-level.

Kobo-Daishi

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Kobo-Daishi » Thu May 03, 2001 11:30 pm

Guang Zhou 廣州 is not a province. It is the capital city of the province of Guang Dong 廣東.
Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

Hubert

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Hubert » Fri May 04, 2001 9:23 am

Hi
I'm a native Cantonese speaker from Hong Kong.
The character "si" (思) has actually three tones:
1) high level: think, consider, etc.
2) high falling: (as in 思緒) thoughts and feelings; mood or line of thinking.
3) not pronounced as "si" but as "soi" (high level): having much beard
Till now, Cantonese still maintains 9 tones.
A little trick may help you remember them all:
The numbers: 3,9,4, 0,5,2, 7,8,6
exactly pronounce in all nine tones
3(high level)
9(high rising)
4(high falling)
0(low level)
5(low rising)
2(low falling)
7(high "closing" <-- I don't know how your text describes, it's 入 in Chinese)
8(medium "closing")
6(low "closing")
Hubert Lam

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Sun May 06, 2001 1:31 am

Whoops!
My bad... Sorry, my Geography ain't that hot (^_^) It's just that i was there (Gongjau - 廣州) om a recent family holiday, and noticed the contrast between HK Cantonese and the local variety. The way i spoke Cantonese made me stand out like a sore thumb.
(^_‾) Anonymous, 15.

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Sun May 06, 2001 1:32 am

Darn - the characters didn't come up in the post i posted before this one. Oh well, nevermind. I'm using an English version of Windows, and it doesn't handle characters well, at all!

Kobo-Daishi

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Kobo-Daishi » Sun May 06, 2001 11:52 pm

Dear Anonymous,
You say you're using an "English version of Windows." And your previous posting has an e-mail address with the '.UK' suffix. I take it that you are in Britain.
Are you from Hong Kong originally?
You said that in Guangdong, your Cantonese stuck out like a sore thumb. Don't the people in Guangzhou watch a lot of satellite t.v. beamed from Hong Kong? So, shouldn't they be used to the way you speak, if you speak H.K. Cantonese?
Won't all that t.v. watching influence their way of speaking?
Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Mon May 07, 2001 12:41 am

I actually posted my email address? Where? - I would never usually do such a thing.
Well, anyway I was born in HK, but barely reached two before my parents moved to GT. Britain. BTW, i'd like to make a correction, when i wrote about my spoken-tongue making me appear non-local i actually meant in Guangxi when i went to visit family in Ningming.
Whilst i was in GZ all the channels i ever saw were in Mandarin, and besides you over-estimate the power of media-influence; i'm sure it would take more than a couple of HK-accented television presenters to change the speech of an entire city - come on, what do you take these people for? That said, most of Britain's films and tv soaps are from America - i have yet to see people calling sweets 'candy', or calling mobile phones 'cell phones', a film a 'movie', writing analyse as 'analyze', or arse as 'ass' - okay, so you get the idea.
It's late, my eyes hurt... Please excuse any spelling mistakes (-_-)
Anon.

Eugene Morrow

Tone 1

Postby Eugene Morrow » Tue May 08, 2001 4:34 am

Hello Hubert,
Thanks for your reply and the system of tones. Question: what is the tone for 1?. I assume this is the middle level (for example Sei for the number four).
Regards,
Eugene Morrow

Eugene Morrow

Now I understand what you mean

Postby Eugene Morrow » Tue May 08, 2001 4:48 am

Hello Hubert,
I finally understand what you meant by your system of tones. The words for the numbers give the tone you want. One would be High Level of course (yat).
I am surprised you had 4 has High Falling. Surely this is Middle Level (as used for 8 but it is open).
Do you agree?
Regards,
Eugene Morrow

Hubert

Re: Now I understand what you mean

Postby Hubert » Sat May 12, 2001 2:28 am

: Hello Hubert,
: I finally understand what you meant by your system of tones. The words for the numbers give the tone you want. One would be High Level of course (yat).
: I am surprised you had 4 has High Falling. Surely this is Middle Level (as used for 8 but it is open).
: Do you agree?
: Regards,
: Eugene Morrow
Hi Eugene,
In Cantonese, only the "closing tones" (ending with -p, -t, -ng, -k) have all three levels (high, medium and low).
4 (sei) not having -p, -k, -t, -ng
should not belong to the medium level.
If you can pronounce 394052786 correctly,
you should be able to find 384 belong to the same high level, 052 the low level and 786 descending from high, medium and finally to low.
Hubert

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Wed May 23, 2001 2:47 am

: Whoops!
: My bad... Sorry, my Geography ain't that hot (^_^) It's just that i was there (Gongjau - ?A?B) om a recent family holiday, and noticed the contrast between HK Cantonese and the local variety. The way i spoke Cantonese made me stand out like a sore thumb.
: (^_~) Anonymous, 15.
BTW, Guangzhou has a Western name "Canton (city)", which we
Chinese usually misinterpret it as Guangdong (province). So,
"Cantonese" is Guangzhouhua (Gwongzauwa), but I suspect this
was misretrofitted as Guangdonghua (Gwongdongwa).

It surprises a little bit that you can notice the difference
between the GZ accent and HK accent. Most native speakers don't,
and hence can't understand why some people can tell if a
person is from GZ or HK from his speech. (If you've been to Foshan (Futshan),
next to GZ, you'll feel that they speak even more funnier!
The FS accent is very noticeable to a native speaker of GZ or HK
accents.)

To state the differences: Tone #1 is either high falling [53]
or high level [55]. Emphatically, it can become [51]. However,
most native speakers do not notice the difference. The
present HK accent uses high-level [55] most of the time, except
for emphasis. The GZ accent, on the other hand, uses the high-falling
tone [53] much more frequently. Ususally, [53] is used for verbs and
[55] for nouns. But they are anyway interchangable at the
speaker's will, and makes room for emphasis. This subtle difference
explains why one can tell the GZ accent from the HK accent.
(For the Foshan accent, it is tone #4 that makes the obvious
difference. GZ/HK has [21] or [11] for tone #4, but FS has
[42]. It is also a bit longer in duration in the FS accent.
The difference is quite noticeable, at least to HKers.)

Anonymous

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Anonymous » Wed May 23, 2001 2:56 am

: I actually posted my email address? Where? - I would never usually do such a thing.
: Well, anyway I was born in HK, but barely reached two before my parents moved to GT. Britain. BTW, i'd like to make a correction, when i wrote about my spoken-tongue making me appear non-local i actually meant in Guangxi when i went to visit family in Ningming.
Of course! Even in Foshan, an important city next to Guangzhou, you'll sound very non-local and
the people around you will be using an accent that sound "strange" to you.
You don't have to be outside Guangdong to sound non-local. Travel south of Foshan and
Guangzhou to the 4-county region. You'll find that you can't communicate (*) with the
people there, because they speak Toishanese. Toishanese is a sub-dialect of Cantonese,
and it is unintelligible with Cantonese.


: Whilst i was in GZ all the channels i ever saw were in Mandarin, and besides you over-estimate the power of media-influence; i'm sure it would take more than a couple of HK-accented television presenters to change the speech of an entire city - come on, what do you take these people for? That said, most of Britain's films and tv soaps are from America - i have yet to see people calling sweets 'candy', or calling mobile phones 'cell phones', a film a 'movie', writing analyse as 'analyze', or arse as 'ass' - okay, so you get the idea.
Are you sure? I remember that some channels broadcast in Cantonese even 15 years ago.
Since the 80s, China has become more open. Even people in villages of Guangdong are rich enough to afford a
TV nowadays. The channels broadcast in Cantonese. This is also true in the 4-county region
mentioned above -- even for the channels intended for local communities only! Moreover, most of these people can
now receive HK channels, which are in Cantonese or English. They find the HK channels more entertaining, "fashionable" and
more informative. So, they watch HK channels most of the time. As a result, the younger generation in the
4-county region can now speak Cantonese, but with a typical Toishan accent. You no longer need Toishanese to get around
in these areas.

Kobo-Daishi

Re: High Falling Tone in Cantonese

Postby Kobo-Daishi » Wed May 23, 2001 10:54 am

Dear Anonymous,
Are you a second anonymous? If not, you've developed a split personality and are talking to yourself.
If you're a second anonymous, please adopt a pseudonym, so, readers won't be confused.
When my parents were in Taishan, they said they watched HK tv using satellite dishes.
A woman that works with me who left Kaiping about 5 years ago, also, says that she received HK tv using satellite dishes.
When my co-worker speaks Kai ping hua, which is supposed to be similar to Taishanese, I'm not able to understand her. But, when I speak Taishanese she understands me.
Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.


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