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Cantonese Pronunciation

Cantonese pronunciation is sometimes viewed as difficult to learn, but it doesn’t need to be thought of in that way. When you realize that the sounds of this language are limited to a number of finite possibilities, learning to pronounce those sounds becomes a much more manageable task. Plus, there are only some of those sounds that are particularly difficult for native speakers of other languages to pronounce. By listening to native speakers of Cantonese pronounce those sounds, and then mimicking them each time you listen, you will gain fluency at a surprisingly rapid pace. It’s just a matter of patience and persistence until you finally get it right.

Another helpful thing to point out here is that both Cantonese and Chinese words are made up of syllables represented by single written characters. Each of these syllables has both an initial and final sound. In total, there are approximately 600 unique combinations of these sounds in the Cantonese language. That may sound like a very high number at first, but remember, as we indicated a moment ago, only a small number of those sounds are actually difficult to pronounce. Thus, by focusing on mastering the pronunciation of those particular sounds, you will master Cantonese pronunciation in a relatively short period of time.

Another aspect of Cantonese pronunciation is that not only are there six hundred unique sounds, there are also nine different tones with which these sounds are pronounced. These tones are indicated by various markings. The first of these tones is a high and flat sound. The second one rises, and it produces a similar intonation to that of a question in the English language. The third tone is a flat, mid-range tone. The fourth tone is flat, too, but, instead of being in the middle of your range, it should be at the bottom of your range. If you’re doing it right, then you should be able to feel a slight vibration at the base of your throat when you’re pronouncing this tone.

Of course, there are also four other tones used in Cantonese pronunciation. The fifth one rises from the lowest point of your range to its middle. The sixth one is a flat tone that starts near the base and remains there. The seventh, eight, and ninth tones are called entering tones, and they end in stop consonants. The seventh one has the same pitch as the first, the eighth the same as the third, and the ninth the same as the sixth.