Tonal Differences in Kaohsiung?

Has anyone noticed that there are some words that people in Kaohsiung pronounce using different tones?

For instance the seafood 蛤蜊 according to the official MOE Chinese Dictionary should be pronounced ge2li2. (See here: However I have asked 5 different people here in Kaohsiung and they all say that the correct pronunciation is ge3li4

I have also personally come across people pronouncing 屁股 as pi4gu3 when all of the dictionaries and childrens b,p,m,f annotated newspapers that I read state it should be pronounced pi4gu5.

It seems that here in Kaohsiung I not only encounter pronunciation that is not standard but also the tones too. :ponder:

Kaoshiung people speak Taiwanese different then TAipei people, so it stands to reason they will speak Taiwanese Mando different too.

Even tho a lot of Taipei people were originally from Ktown, true Taipeians often still think of them as country hicks :stuck_out_tongue:

Although Ktown is a really nice city and becoming better.

The geli and pigu cases are not specific to Kaohsiung. Actually the MOE dictionary is often ridiculed for its pronunciation keys which are sometimes totally out of touch with how people read characters in real life. Just last week the geli discussion made the TV news because it doesn’t reflect actual usage at all. This is an age-old debate in Linguistics about prescriptive vs. descriptive language, and you’ll find it’s not limited to Taiwan. In countries like Spain and France where language academies define what’s “proper,” there is also some disparity between so-called right way to do things and the way things are actually done in the language.

Another example of the MOE dictionary being all out of whack is 骰子 (dice), which people pronounce as shai3zi but MOE says should be tou2zi. Go figure.

So no, it’s not limited to Kaohsiung. This is just Taiwanese Mandarin, like saying “美眉” instead of 妹妹, etc. The stuff you learn in Chinese textbooks is all based on Northeast China’s pronunciation, so it would be like learning RP (“Queen’s English”) in America and be astounded at how everyone “incorrectly” says things like “He hasn’t gotten there yet” (instead of “hasn’t got”). The so called 標準 in Mandarin is an absurdly out-of-date concept.

PS: One word that drives me nuts is 橄欖 (olive), because it should be gan3lan3, but some people pronounce it as gan3lan2 and it seems to be entirely up to personal preference, i.e. not geographic distribution. Can anyone shed any light on this?

no, I don’t think that is a difference of Kaohsiung from rest of Taiwan. It’s a difference of MOE from rest of Taiwan. I would say 99% of Taiwanese would say pi4-gu3 and ge3-li4, though for the later, 70% of people would just say ham–á (蚶仔), cause ge3-li4 feels so forced… just use Taiwanese for some food terms.

You see, there are some dictionaries written in the 7th to 13th century, and the MOE dudes are trying really hard to jam mandarin sounds to fit what’s described in those old dictionaries. But sadly, those dictionaries are written for real Han Chinese languages such as Taiwanese Holo and Hakka, so as hard as they try, Mandarin is just too different from what’s described, and forcing it creates weird pronunciations that no one uses.

A popular example that has been on the news recently is the 成語 Cheng-yu 莘莘學子, a pharse used to describe many hard working students. It has always been taught as Xin-Xin-Xue2-Zi3. Also, one of the old dictionaries 集韻 (ji2-yun4) said this word is pronounced the same way as 辛, which is Xin.

But no, MOE aliens decided that the dictionary described it as 疏臻切, which means take the Consonant of 疏 (Shu) and replace the rest with 臻 (Zhen), so they say 莘 shall now hence forth be pronounced as Shen. So instead of Xin-xin-Xue2-Zi3, now on the MOE website it’s Shen-Shen-Xue2-Zi3. But then what about 辛? These two words are supposed to sound the same! Should we now also so 深苦你啦 “Shen ku3 ni3 la”?

Just to prove how these classical dictionaries weren’t written for Mandarin, but instead for real Han Chinese languages, in Holo 疏 (so͘) and 臻 (tsin) forms (Sin), which is how you say 辛 and 莘 in holo. It is the same pronunciation for the mandarin (Xin), so while other words were heavily influenced by Manchurian and other languages, people remember 莘 used to be read as Sin, so it is preserved.

Many heteronyms (破音字, character with many different pronunciations) are the creation of this preservation. Often you can compare with Taiwanese holo and realize heteronym is an attempt to approximate how the word was originally pronounced.

A quick aside on neutral tones: Taiwanese people often disregard them. The exceptions are things like the “zi” suffix in míngzi, but your pìgu/pìgǔ is a reflection of the greatly reduced role of the neutral tone in Taiwanese Mandarin.

also, Mandarin neutral tone’s glottal ending sounds similar to Han Chinese’s 入聲 Checked tone. But Mandarin’s mapping of neutral tone to traditional checked tone characters is random at best. Beijing dialect’s Neutral tone almost acts like a an ending placement to a word or phrase, which is more like features of atonal language.

For example, neither 股 kó͘ nor 字 jī are checked tones. But actual checked tone words such as 入 ji̍p aren’t neutral tones in Mandarin. For the Taiwanese, the concept of random checked tone is too confusing, so it was mostly disregarded.

p.s. check tones can be find in Japanese. Most Kanji with two syllable On’yomi pronunciations are checked tones. Japanese would append extra vowel to the consonant endings. e.g.

Holo Japanese
一 It I-chi
六 lio̍k Ro-Ku
石 si̍k Se-ki