First name mispronounced
This is a funny one. There is a guy in my companys Chinese office whose first name is 超(Chao) and he unusually told my friend to call him by this name.
Sometime later someone else in the office suggested that he stop doing so because the way he was pronouncing it sounded like an insult! Now listing to him tell this story I listened to the way he pronounced it and it sounded maybe third or second tone in the way that it came out rather than the first tone it would normally be.
Thing is I've looked up 3rd and 2nd tone Chao‘s but found nothing that seems insulting. Can anyone shed any light on this for me as I'd hate to make that mistake....
bababardwanOctober 31, 2009, 09:52 PM
2 possibilities jumped to mind but they could both be wrong.
the fact that you mentioned it as a work colleague reminded me of 炒鱿鱼 which could be an unfortunate implication.
I also wondered if it was not a tone issue but a pronunciation issue and if it didn't sound like 臭 ？
when the other person suggested it was insulting,was it clear that it was because of pronunciation? Otherwise you'd contemplate whether it was merely the fact of addressing him by his first name [the encouragement to do so may be unbeknown to this other person].
Ok,now I've hit the dictionary.I'm wondering if these are possibilities:
抄 或者 剿 。both to plagiarise
嘲..to ridicule or mock
...yeah,not too obvious,they're a bit of a stab in the dark.
My best guess of the above would be 臭
Good luck solving the mystery mate,and if/when you do please be sure and let us know what it was. :)
changyeNovember 01, 2009, 01:59 AM
I just don't understand why it's so difficult for the guy to pronounce "chao" with first tone. I think first tone is the easiest one to utter. Personally, I hate "second tone" most.
go_manlyNovember 01, 2009, 02:41 AM
I've found that when I say 1st tone words without concentrating, it often comes out as a 4th tone, or as a 'low' tone which could possibly be confused with the 3rd tone. I think this is because Western males do not feel comfortable speaking words at the high end of their range, and unconciously migrate into a more comfortable zone.
But yes, as long as I am concentrating, the 1st tone is the easiest to say.
changyeNovember 01, 2009, 02:52 AM
Hi jckeith and go_manly
Just interesting. I didn't expect that at all. I always thought the first tone would be the easiest one for anybody (all over the world), hehe.
I guess that it might has something to do with the fact that pitches (not tones) are relatively important in my native language, Japanese.
jckeithNovember 01, 2009, 02:53 AM
I would say that it's not the higher pitch of the first tone that vexes me (although it does take some getting used to); it's the fact that it's monotone. Multiple first tone words in a row is especially difficult. You just never intentionally speak in a monotone voice in English, unless you're being facetious.
bodaweiNovember 01, 2009, 03:23 AM
I am trying to imitate the way the locals speak. I am trying to increase the speed of my speech so that tones don't matter so much!! (only half-joking.) Or just get the tone right on 'key' words in a sentence.
bodaweiNovember 01, 2009, 03:13 PM
Why doesn't your friend ask 超 Chāo for instruction on how to pronounce his name? He could say that he has received some criticism. I agree with the above comments - 1st tone is not the hardest sound to reproduce. But it does involve a leap of faith for a Western man to put his voice into the high register.
Or, he could say 'I would like to learn how to say Mr Chao in Chinese'. This serves two purposes - first, 超先生 chāo xiānsheng is less likely to be ambiguous (if the critic is serious in his criticism), and it is also a little more balanced that simply saying 超 in isolation。 Second, he learns how to say Chao properly without embarrassment. Mr Chao thinks he is teaching your friend to say 先生, but he is also teaching him to say Chao.
trevorbNovember 01, 2009, 11:46 AM
Thing is my friend is not trying to speak mandarin, he's just pronouncing chao as comes natural to an American (in England) reading the word. He's therefore probably not noticed the tone at all nor really realised there was a significance to it.
I too suspected the use of the first name thing which although my friend had been told to use it may not feel right to others in the office, especially as the man in question is 经理 to most of them.
I suspect the suggestion of Noisy/disturbing is also a good one, maybe even a combination of both used to someones manager may feel pretty disrespectful.
Perversly I've never tried to use mandarin to talk to this guy as I didn't want to inadvertantly cause offence! Maybe once I've had a few more years under my belt....