Cantonese tones

Discussions on the Cantonese language.

Cantonese tones

Post by lance »

does anyone have any ideo how to help me learn the cantonese tones ?
Ming Wo

Re: Cantonese tones

Post by Ming Wo »

The best way is to listen to Cantonese being spoken.
You can also try pronouncing syllables that differ only in tone. Like "si" (pronounced see):
Si1 can mean poem.
Si2 can mean history, as in lik6 si2 "history".
Si3 can mean to try, or exam, as in hao2 si3 "to take an exam."
Si4 can mean time, as in si4 gan3 "time."
Si5 can mean city, as in sing4 si5 "city."
Si6 can be the written, Mandarin "is." Also in si6 sut6 "fact."
So there are 6 tones in Cantonese (if you've heard that there are 9, that's wrong; there are words that the 9-tone system would exclude. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, never mind).
There are 4 that are unchanging in pitch, but sometimes drop off. These 4 vary from each other in pitch. Varying from highest to lowest are the tones 1, 3, 6, and 4.
The other two are rising tones. 2 is the higher one, and 5 is the lower.
If you need more help, the library's a good place to look. Find some tapes, maybe.
Good luck!