French Ears

Len Morgan kttkinfo at gmail.com
Thu Dec 15 13:34:40 CST 2011


  In Chinese it can be even worse.  Mandarin has four different "tones" 
for each syllable, Taiwanese has 8, and Cantonese has up to 11!  Unlike 
Japanese, if you don't get the tones right in Chinese, most likely they 
will have no clue at all what you're saying even if you get all the 
syllables right!

len


On 12/14/2011 7:41 PM, Tim Selander wrote:
> (I should probably let one of the native Japanese people on this list 
> answer, but...)
>
> I don't know French, and am not precisely sure what you mean by 'tonic 
> accents' and am not a linguist, so don't know the proper term, but in 
> Japanese each syllable of a word has exactly the same beat or rhythm, 
> so it sounds rather staccato to an English speaker.
>
> But the voice can rise in pitch, stay flat, or drop in pitch for each 
> syllable. To foreign ears, it is a very, very slight change -- but of 
> course a very obvious change to native speakers. And that slight 
> change in pitch can completely change the meaning of a word. The 
> language has a gazzillion (yes, I believe that is the proper technical 
> term ;-) homonyms. Just one example:
> "Hashi" = chopsticks
> "Hashi" = bridge
> "Hashi" = the edge, like the edge of a table
>
> and the slight up/down/flat pitch combinations of the two syllables 
> determines which word, (chopsticks, bridge or edge), you are saying.
>
> HTH
>
> Tim Selander
> Tokyo, Japan
>
> On 12/15/11 8:51 AM, Bob Sneidar wrote:
>> I have heard that Japanese has no tonic accents. Is that true?
>>
>> Bob
>>
>> On Dec 14, 2011, at 3:29 PM, Francis Nugent Dixon wrote:
>>
>>> Hi from Beautiful Brittany.
>>>
>>> Michael wrote :
>>>
>>>> I'm not interested in the translations, just the quality of the 
>>>> French accent.
>>>
>>> Michael, it's the best French speech I have ever heard (I have 45 
>>> years of
>>> French, in France, under my belt !)
>>>
>>> However, computer speech is monotonous (great difficulty in placing 
>>> tonic
>>> accents).
>>>
>>> I think the weather will change tomorrow
>>> i THINK the weather will change tomorrow
>>> i think the WEATHER will change tomorrow
>>> i think the weather will CHANGE tomorrow
>>> i think the weather will change TOMORROW
>>>
>>> Same sentence - at least five ways of saying it !
>>>
>>> And this is just the tonic accent in a complete word. When you have a
>>> multi-syllable word, placement of the tonic accent is capital.
>>> Take any three or four syllable word and say it with the tonic accent
>>> in the wrong place. Odds are that even an Englishman would say ......
>>> "I beg your pardon" !
>>>
>>> Although tonic accents are far less important to French speech, they 
>>> do exist !
>>>
>>> However, forgetting the tonic accent, the FRENCH accent on this site 
>>> is damned good !
>>>
>>> HTH
>>>
>>> -Francis
>>>
>>> "Nothing should ever be done for the first time !"
>>>
>>>
>>>
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