Tone 3 pronounced as Tone 2 in monosyllabic words

  • The native speaker's tone contour provides a representation of Tone 3 (tone value 2-1-4) - the pitch value falls from the 1st to the 5th timepoint, forms a dipping point in the middle of the tone contour, and then rises from the 7th to the 11th timepoint. Pitch value ranges from 180Hz to 260Hz. Difference in pitch between the 1st timepoint and the dipping point is around 50Hz.
  • The learners' tone contours are close to the representation of Tone 2. Although falling trend can also be observed fro the start, difference in pitch between the 1st timepoint and the lowest point is very minor, around 10-25Hz. Because the degree and duration of fall trend are not sufficient, the learners' pronunciation are recognized as Tone 2 rather than Tone 3.

Tone 3 pronounced as Tone 2 in multisyllabic words

  • In disyllabic words, Tone 3 preceding Tone 1/2/4 is pronounced incompletely, without pitch rising after the dipping point. The native speaker's tone contour of “瓦” of the word “瓦房” shows falling trend from the beginning to the end. Pitch value ranges from 130Hz to 210Hz.
  • The learners' tone contours of “瓦” of the word “瓦房” are close to Tone 2. Falling trend can be seen at the beginning or in the middle, followed by dramatic pitch rising. Difference in pitch value between the beginning and the lowest points is around 20Hz, and the rising part shows a difference of 50-80Hz.
  • Tone 3 at the second syllable of a disyllabic word is usually pronounced completely. A dipping point can be found from the native speaker's tone contour, preceded by a falling part and followed by a rising part.
  • The learners' tone contours show obvious rising trend from the beginning to the end. Difference between the minimum and maximum pitch values is around 40-80Hz.

Suggestions for teachers:

  • for Tone 3 in monosyllabic words, remind students to pronounce the tone completely, with a clear dipping point in the middle
  • for Tone 3 in the first syllable followed by Tone 1/2/4 of disyllabic words, remind students to pronounce the tone with falling trend
  • for Tone 3 in the second syllable of disyllabic words, remind students to pronounce the tone with a clear dipping point in the middle

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