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Say It Right Series

Studying prosody

Posted by simonpettersson December 17, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: prosody, rythm, methods, methodology, resources

Prosody is the rythm, pitch, "melody" of a language. When to pause, when to raise the pitch at the end of the sentence, that sort of thing. According to several researchers, prosody is much more important to "sounding right" than pronounciation of individual phonemes. If you've got the prosody down, you can butcher some phonemes and still sound pretty much native, though maybe native with a speech impediment or a dialect.

Despite this, prosody is very seldom taught in language instruction. ChinesePod is no different; while there's the Pinyin Program for learning to pronounce the phonemes, there's nothing at all to help the learner get the rythm of the language down. So until we get some resources from CPod, we're left to our own devices. So:

1: Do you know any resouces for learning Mandarin prosody? There's lots of documentation on it in French, but I haven't seen any for Mandarin. Any book you've read that deals with it?

2: Do you have any ideas on how to study it? I've done a lot of shadowing (ask if you don't know what that is) and I think that helps, but I'm looking for other methods, as well. How can I model my own prosody to that of the native speakers?

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