To the guy that voiced the lessons...
I was a little nervous about starting this course because, being a native English speaker, I don't have much experience with tones. Your recordings are very clear and make me feel more encouraged to see this course through. I am now more looking forward to it instead of wondering what I got myself into. Thank you!!
Best way to remember the tones:
[[1st tone - high]] The 1st tone is best compared with when your friend asks you out for lunch and you say hmmm 'mayyybeee' it's that 'may' sound that is high and consistent. [[2nd tone - rising]] The 2nd tone is your voice rising from low pitch to high. It's like when you don't hear someone speaking that clear and you cannot make out what they say, so you go 'what?' - rising. [[3rd tone - low]] The 3rd tone is low and doesn't change pitch. It's like when you used to come back from school and you're dad would ask you what you had for lunch - and you go 'uhhhhh' this low sound is just like the 3rd tone. [[4th tone - descending]] The 4th town is descending. This is like when your friend and you have an argument and they go something like 'hahaha i'm right' and you go 'No!' this is the tone that goes from high to low. [[Neutral tone]] This is easy as it's almost like half a syllable. For example in the chinese word for thank you, the last part of the word is xie, without a tone mark meaning it's neutral; it's the fastest and shortest tone.
JPR-89, it's weird actually.
On TV people don't usually do the rise and just use their low voice, as well as everyday use. In China you can tell when someone is a foreigner that's learnt Chinese. They usually rise and this is something that has been worn out. However, some people still go down to their low voice, they just don't go back up at the end - however a lot of people just stay low.
A 3rd tone word, spoken clearly in isolation, dips and rises. On a scale from 1 to 5, its pattern is 214. But in running speech, it's more like just 21 or even just 1. Think about how English speakers say "the, a, an" in isolation (rhymes with "tree, hay, man") versus in running speech ("the" rhymes with "duh" if there is a consonant after, "a" rhymes with "duh" and "an" rhymes with "one"). It's like that, it's contextual. Really, the low pronunciation is the default one and the dip+rise one is the exception.
When two 3rd tones are in a row, with no pause between them, the first one is pronounced like a 2nd tone. On the 1-5 scale, it's 35. That's part of the standard language.
There are regional differences too -- I was using a practice recording where the guy's third tones were not just low but creaky, and my Chinese friends said he sounded southern. But what I have described above is not regional.
It's great to hear someone uttering those tones clear. That way, you can tell the differences among those four major tones in the beginning and then gradually get to a few rules on tone modification among juxtaposed tones. A tip for beginners, the third tone in Chinese is by far the most challenging one. Be sure to pay enough attention to that one.
That being said, no worry too much on tones. For any single character, the tone plays a critical role in speaking as the tone is a distinctive factor to make a sound associated with that tone represent a particular character(s). But as you learn more characters and place them into a sentence form, the tones for all the characters in a sentence will work together. Even if you mistake some tones in a long sentence, it won't be a too big problem for others to understand you. Good luck and have fun!
I hear a lot of people complaining about how the speaker has an accent, and I have no way to verify this. But I personally like the sound a lot and it's a lot less jarring than some other languages on here ^^ If the audio is well recorded then I enjoy listening exercises more and sometimes cover up the text with my hand to see if I can do a translation without reading it. I think I went off topic... yeah, this speaker makes tones really obvious! They would probably be hard to pick up if the speech was of a normal native speed. Chinese songs drop tones for melodic purposes :/ I like tones. Chinese languages are hard enough as it is but I think tones are actually a good thing in making the language more comprehensible. They're interesting to learn too. Good luck on your language learning journey :-)