"wo3" and "ni3" don't undergo tone sandhi?

A teacher from Xi’an recently told me that “wo3” (“I”) and “ni3” (“you”) are special and don’t have their tones changed to 2nd tone when followed by another 3rd tone. She was quite adamant about it, and very quick to catch this tone change each time I made it. I’ve never heard of this in my life, and no one’s ever brought this up regarding my pronunciation. In fact, I find two consecutive low-pitched 3rd tones a bit vocally difficult. Paying close attention to her pronunciation, I heard her saying “wo3” and “ni3” as full 3rd tones so that the tone bends upward before following 3rd tones, which is comfortable to do.

Do people have experience with this? Do your spoken “wo3” and “ni3” undergo normal tone sandhi, or are they always full 3rd tone when followed by another 3rd tone?

To my ear, the no sandhi interpretation is correct in some cases, although there is definite sandhi in set phrases like 你好.

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That teacher is wrong. Try asking Mandarin speakers to say 我想… Most would say Wó xiǎng

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I think it depends on the situation. Like 你給我. There would appear to be no sandhi there. Also, in situations where you want to emphasize the “me” or “you,” there would appear to be full third tones.


That’s just mother dialect interference…

…every Mandarin textbook I’ve ever seen here teaches that sandhi.

Also, I’ve found tone accuracy among native speakers in Taiwan to be all over the map. Some Taiwanese Mandarin speakers just have wacky tones.

I would say that sandhi is even more prominent amongst many first gen late immigrants (those who came to Taiwan after 1949), where they really dramatically stress that second tone in sentences like 我告訴你

Where’s the sandhi in that sentence?

The point about emphasizing matches my experiences, but this person insists that there are no exceptions: “ni3” and “wo3” must always start out low, like a 3rd tone. I also presumed a regional or local dialect influence, but this is an educated person, connected to a major Chinese university in a province distant from her home region, and she was particularly sensitive to this pronunciation as an error. She’s systematic and precise. She seems too connected to some kind of pedagogical continuity so that it’s hard for me to just write it off as one of her quirks. She was far better at picking out my other tone errors than anyone else I’ve known in a long time.

我. I know it isn’t followed by a third tone, but they still say 我 with a dramatic second tone.

Hmm, never noticed that one. I have noticed it when people say 我?as in “Who, me?”

I hear “wo3 gao4su5 ni5” all the time, and the “wo3” is always clearly 3rd tone. The ‘s’ in “gao4su5” is always omitted.

By the way, this teacher granted that, in the standard curse “wo2 cao4,” wo3 becomes 2nd tone.

"The principal rule of third tone sandhi is:

  • When there are two consecutive third-tone syllables, the first of them is pronounced with second tone."

It’s Wiki, it can’t be wrong.

Never trust an academic? In any case, most native speakers don’t have perfect tones anyway. Sometimes, people with perfect tones even sound a bit unnnatural.

I hear you. It’s just that this one really comes out of left field, and with some authority and thoughfulness behind it to boot.

In my experience, those two pronouns exhibit tone sandhi as would be expected for a third-tone syllable followed by another.

In everyday speech, doesn’t it depend primarily on how fast you’re speaking?

my one and only downfall is 3rd-3rd tone words coming out 2nd(like a :ballot_box_with_check: tone)-3rd tone words.

Idk if it’s worth mentioning but I had no idea about this “sandhi” concept but from listening to a lot of speakers, I got used to applying this rule (pronouncing Wo3 as a 2nd tone when followed by another third tone)… I assume that means I’ve been listening to many people who do so as well!

Would “no sandhi for first pronoun in an imperative sentence” be a good description for the phenomenon?