Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cantonese's Consonants

There are 20 consonants in Cantonese, they can be related in term of how the sound is produced:
b, p, m, f like those in English speaking, distinguished by using the lip.
The particular one is ng. It is hard for English speaking people as it is using the nose. Some phonetic representation using 'ŋ' instead of 'ng' but using ng is easier to input from the keyboard.
d, t, n, l and particularly n and l is very hard to distinguish if not listen with the most attention. Same as d and t. They use mainly the tongue to produce sound. For English speaking people, it is easy as m and n are very common consonants.
w, gw and kw are very close. But gw and kw are relatively more difficult to differentiate but listen to how the vocal cord produce that sound. gw is a lot heavier, more solid. kw has more flow of air.
ts or c, dz or z and s has more air to flow out through the teeth and z is more solid while s is more light.
k and g is like a pair as if kw and gw. They are close. g is heavier or more solid and k is more flow of air. The difference between k and kw or g and gw is the w, the formation of sound with w means more around the mouth.
j and h are the silent pair. They product light sound starting like 'j'ay and 'h'ide. A gently flow of air through the mouth and or nose.
b,p,m,f,t,d,n,l,j and h count to 10. k,g,kw,gw,w,ts or c,dz or c, s and ng count to 9. Adding the null or no consonant will be a total of 20. A perfect even number of 20 consonants of cantonese.

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