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Some Common Pronunciation Mistakes Made by Japanese and Korean Students When Learning Mandarin

Compared with Chinese language, Japanese phonetic system is much simpler. For example, Japanese phonetic system has only five vowels (Chinese has ten) and fourteen consonants (Chinese has twenty-two). This kind of shortages in both content and quantity also makes Japanese students who are learning Mandarin in China feel inadaptable. The most obvious examples collected by the teachers are as following:

b-p: the six pairs of consonants b and p, d and t, g and k, j and q, zh and ch, z and c in Chinese have the discrimination of being aspirated and unaspirated. Being aspirated and unaspirated plays an important role in Chinese language, for they can discriminate the meanings. Such as “ba” and “pa”, the initial consonant of the former is unaspirated and the one of latter is aspirated. Although some phonetic units in Japanese have the two types of pronunciation, the discrimination is not obvious or has the function of identification. Therefore, Japanese students who are learning Chinese language will always ignore the discrimination of Chinese initial consonants between aspirated and unaspirated. For instance, they will speak of “pang” as “bang” or speak of “gu” as “ku”; sometimes they will confuse “青草” with “清早” during the process of learning Chinese language.

f-h: in Chinese, the initial consonant “f” is labiodental sound and “h” is velar sound. While Japanese has no the relevant speech sounds and Japanese students of learning Chinese language are not adaptable to pronounce these two sounds. The bilabial sound in Japanese will always replaced by “ふ” and the shape of your mouth is close to the one when you are blowing candles. Thus Japanese students will always speak of “li fa” as “li hua” when they are learning Chinese language.

Sh-x & r-l: it is difficult for Japanese students who are learning Chinese language to pronounce zh, ch, sh and r, for they often confuse these sounds with “j, q, x” and “l”, especially “sh” and “x, r” and “l”.

It is because Japanese people often pronounce sh as x and the Chinese words with suffix –ng will be pronounced as long sound that they will hardly identify the sound of “shang”& “xia” when they are learning Chinese language.

When learning Chinese language, Korean students will always pronounce “f” as “b/p”, because Korean has no the pronunciation of “f”. For example, the teacher found that “夫妇” will be pronounced as “瀑布” by the students of learning Chinese language. Although “f” is not that difficult to be pronounced and Korean students will easily pronounce it with the help of teachers, they will still replace “f” with “b/p” unconsciously when meeting the specific characters.

“z, c, s & zh, ch, sh & j, q, x”: these three groups of initial consonants are the major difficulties for Korean students who are learning Mandarin in China and the errors are the most common. Because Korean doesn’t involve these sounds, except for “s”. The most typical error for Korean students found by the teacher in their process of learning Chinese language is to pronounce “shao” as “xiao” and “xiao” as “shao”; “shang” as “xia” and “xia” as “shang”.

ü: Korean students will feel difficult to pronounce “ü”. They will easily pronounce “ü” as “u” or “uei”. For example, some students will pronounce “鱼” as “围”, “下雨” as “下尾”, “玉” as “雾” and “远不远” as “玩不玩”.

To find these typical errors of overseas students is quite helpful for Chinese teachers. In this way, the teachers’ teaching process will be more customized and suitable for students and their Chinese study foundation will be stable. Chinese teachers should try to conclude in their teaching practice and provide more useful experience for others.

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