什麼, shenme, 尸ㄜㄇㄜ?

I learned something today that kind of blew my mind, and I humbly come here seeking some kind of reason behind this.

I’ve always read in pinyin that the pronunciation for “what” 什麼 is “shen2me”. However, when I started typing in bopomofo on the computer, I found it odd that the character wasn’t listed when I inputed 尸ㄣ. I saw a character 甚 that looked similar to a lot of traditional conversions I’ve seen from the mainland, and I assumed the character was an “older” version of 什.

Well today I finally asked a native why and they asked why I was inputing it that way, because it should be “she2me” 尸ㄜ . I was shocked to think that I could have been mispronouncing such a basic word in Chinese all along. I scrambled to check the textbook to see if I was crazy… but I wasn’t. There it was in pinyin “shenme”.

So my question is… what’s up with the disparity? I always thought people in Taiwan just didn’t pronounce the ‘en’ fully, or maybe it just blended in with ‘me’. Guess I was wrong?

Dear Garfaldo,

[quote=“garfaldo”]I learned something today that kind of blew my mind, and I humbly come here seeking some kind of reason behind this.

I’ve always read in pinyin that the pronunciation for “what” 什麼 is “shen2me”. However, when I started typing in bopomofo on the computer, I found it odd that the character wasn’t listed when I inputed 尸ㄣ. I saw a character 甚 that looked similar to a lot of traditional conversions I’ve seen from the mainland, and I assumed the character was an “older” version of 什.

Well today I finally asked a native why and they asked why I was inputing it that way, because it should be “she2me” 尸ㄜ . I was shocked to think that I could have been mispronouncing such a basic word in Chinese all along. I scrambled to check the textbook to see if I was crazy… but I wasn’t. There it was in pinyin “shenme”.

So my question is… what’s up with the disparity? I always thought people in Taiwan just didn’t pronounce the ‘en’ fully, or maybe it just blended in with ‘me’. Guess I was wrong?[/quote]

Try inputting them into the revised Guoyu Cidian web site put out by the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s Ministry of Education:

http://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/

They are both equally valid.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

They’re both valid, but “shenme” is the dominant spelling in mainland China, while “sheme” is dominant in Taiwan. But in practice, the “n” is elided or dropped altogether when spoken.

To really blow your mind, try inputting 癌症 “ai3zheng4” (cancer) on a Taiwanese system.

it is “she me” but I think the ‘N’ appears as a pron feature…i.e. you’re already closing your mouth for the M sound so the N just kinda appears. It’s like handbag in English is actually pronounced “hambag”.

In the older dictionaries in Taiwan, you’ll see 什/甚 listed as shé when used in conjunction with 麼. This was also true in the bopomofo input methods on older operating systems. In recent years (<10 years is my guess), the MOE has changed its official pronunciation of 什麼/甚麼 from shémo to shénme, matching the official pronuncation on the mainland. The input methods have also evolved to match.

In practice, shémo or shénme makes no difference. I think shén is probably the “correct” pronunciation as 甚’s other sound is shèn.

Similar to this:

Is 法國 fàguó or fǎguó? I read that in Taiwan it should be fàguó, because France has nothing to do with law.
I sometimes read fàguó in Taiwanese dictionaries, but then I also stumbled across fǎguó written in some Taiwanese publications.

So what is correct, or what do the people actually say?

In Taiwan, it’s Fàguó and that’s what people say. In old Chinese films (pre-commies), you can sometimes hear France being mentioned and the pronunciation is Fàguó. Post-commie era, when simplification started and Putonghua was being codified, some characters also had their various pronunciations amalgamated into one. Thus, Fàguó became Fǎguó.

What Taiwanese publications use Fǎguó? Not one geared toward adult readers I imagine.

stroke-order.learningweb.moe.edu.tw/

The dictionary here has only ㄈㄚˇ and ㄈㄚˊ, but not ㄈㄚˋ

well, ok, it is for kids :smiley:

Directly another question:

Is there a online dictionary (preferably chinese-chinese) which lists the Taiwanese pronounciation?

e.g. I think, 亞 is yà on the mainland and yǎ in Taiwan. PAV says yǎzhōu, my old Chinese textbook said yàzhōu.

I now checked 亞, 血, 法國 and 和 “and” (these are characters which I know differ in pronounciation)
stroke-order.learningweb.moe.edu.tw - has yà; xiě; fǎ and hàn
dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/ - has yà; xiě; fǎ; hàn
mdbg - yà and yǎ; xuè, xiè, xiě; fǎ; hàn

I’m now totally confused. They seem to mix it all like they want to, but I want to get as close to what the people actually say. Is the MOE trying to introduce some kind of new pronounciation closer to the mainland but is not doing it everywhere?

Is there some online dictionary which offers me the real taiwanese pronounciation? Preferably like mdbg where I can just paste a long list of word and see them in a tabular form.

Thanks!

[quote=“Hellstorm”]Directly another question:

Is there a online dictionary (preferably chinese-chinese) which lists the Taiwanese pronounciation?

e.g. I think, 亞 is yà on the mainland and yǎ in Taiwan. PAV says yǎzhōu, my old Chinese textbook said yàzhōu.

I now checked 亞, 血, 法國 and 和 “and” (these are characters which I know differ in pronounciation)
stroke-order.learningweb.moe.edu.tw - has yà; xiě; fǎ and hàn
dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/ - has yà; xiě; fǎ; hàn
mdbg - yà and yǎ; xuè, xiè, xiě; fǎ; hàn

I’m now totally confused. They seem to mix it all like they want to, but I want to get as close to what the people actually say. Is the MOE trying to introduce some kind of new pronounciation closer to the mainland but is not doing it everywhere?

Is there some online dictionary which offers me the real taiwanese pronounciation? Preferably like mdbg where I can just paste a long list of word and see them in a tabular form.[/quote]
Surely you mean the Taiwan pronunciation, not the Taiwanese pronunciation.

The Taiwanese pronunciation of 亞, 血, 法國 and 和 are as follows:

a
hoeh/hiat
hoat kok

Yeah, of course, sorry :wink:

I always thought of it like 甚 is like 臺 and 什 is like 台。 The first two are the traditional but the other two are simplified( I think). I know it’s like that for tai but maybe the shen is the same way.

[quote=“Hellstorm”]Directly another question:

Is there a online dictionary (preferably chinese-chinese) which lists the Taiwanese pronounciation?

e.g. I think, 亞 is yà on the mainland and yǎ in Taiwan. PAV says yǎzhōu, my old Chinese textbook said yàzhōu.

I now checked 亞, 血, 法國 and 和 “and” (these are characters which I know differ in pronounciation)
stroke-order.learningweb.moe.edu.tw - has yà; xiě; fǎ and hàn
dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/ - has yà; xiě; fǎ; hàn
mdbg - yà and yǎ; xuè, xiè, xiě; fǎ; hàn

I’m now totally confused. They seem to mix it all like they want to, but I want to get as close to what the people actually say. Is the MOE trying to introduce some kind of new pronounciation closer to the mainland but is not doing it everywhere?[/quote]
I looked up 法 again in MOE’s online dictionary and they have indeed changed its pronunciation to fa3. In its definition, it now says fa4 is the old pronunciation and I presume, no longer standard.

I think you’re onto something here regarding the MOE moving the Guoyu standard to be closer to the mainland. This change must have been very recent. Personally, if they can merge the standard pronunciation, romanisation (done…sort of), character set (keep traditional!), and scientific/technical terms, that would be superb.

Just ask a couple locals and you’re done. :wink:

Just ask a couple locals and you’re done. :wink:[/quote]

Well, but that’s not really convenient… I don’t want to bother people for every word I want to learn.

I know, but even dictionaries published in Taiwan often list prescriptive rather than descriptive pronunciations. :idunno:

Even f.com’s Chinese usage appears to be moving closer to mainland. Case in point: