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Say It Right Series

Pronunciation differences for "ri"?

Posted by neilus November 21, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

I recently asked a Taiwanese-American friend of mine how to pronounce the Chinese word for "Japan," 日本(rìběn). He pronounced the first syllable with what sounded to my American ear like "Zzurr".

On another occasion, I asked another Chinese-born friend the same question, and she pronounced the first syllable the way I learned it in the classroom, "Ruh".

I asked each friend whether the difference in pronunciation was due to regional dialects. In both cases, each friend claimed that his/her pronunciation was the only correct one!

Can the linguistic experts at ChinesePod comment on this? Does the pronunciation of "ri" differ based on regional dialect, and if so, which regions prefer which pronunciation?

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