Say It Right Series

The proper rhythm for speaking Chinese

Posted by jckeith February 26, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: language, rhythm, speaking


This is a question that's been bugging me for a while. I've been studying Chinese for a few months now, and I'm now able to speak more quickly and still retain the proper pronunciation and tones.

However, I'm still at an Elementary level, so when I  do speak at a faster pace, my sentences become a bit choppy. Some words will be clustered together and spoken more quickly than others. If I want to maintain the proper rhythm, devoting the same amount of time to each character and spacing them equally, I have to speak painfully slowly.

My fellow poddies, which method do you think is better? Personally, I feel that I should speak as quickly as I am able to while retaining the proper pronunciation and tones. I think that the rhythm will eventually even out as I practice more and listen to native speakers more. I should note that when I do speak at a more rapid pace, I'm still trying to emulate the natural rhythm of native speakers, it's just very difficult at my current level of progression.

Furthermore, if a non-native English speaker was speaking to me, and his pronunciation was acceptable but his rhythm was off (I think English is very tricky in this regard), I would think nothing of it. But if a non-native English speaker was speaking to me and dragging out sentences from here to eternity, I would find it quite odd indeed.

Any insights you guys might have would be greatly appreciated.


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