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A Study on Pronunciation of Chinese Pinyin 'wei/-ui'

  • The Journal of Study on Language and Culture of Korea and China
  • Abbr : JSLCKC
  • 2023, (67), pp.3-33
  • DOI : 10.16874/jslckc.2023..67.001
  • Publisher : Korean Society of Study on Chinese Languge and Culture
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature
  • Received : January 10, 2023
  • Accepted : February 20, 2023
  • Published : February 28, 2023

Dong, Cong 1 So-hee Shim 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Roman Alphabet (Latin Alphabet) is the most universally utilized alphabet in the world. In 1956, China adopted the Roman alphabet and refashioned it to be used as the “Chinese Phonetic Alphabet.” While the newly minted language offered an opportunity to distill some of the complexities of Mandarin into a form that could be easily interpreted, it also came with a few notable drawbacks. The Roman Alphabet was limited in its ability to accurately represent the phonetic notation of certain Chinese characters. The problem stems from an imbalance of consonants and vowels - while the Chinese relies on the use of complex vowels, most European Languages consist of a plethora of consonants. Thus by nature, the Roman Alphabet is better suited for European languages with complex consonants. From a cognitive perspective, this article explores the nature and representation of a single complex vowel in the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet, the “'wei/-ui'”. Phonetic symbolic systems that were derived from traditional Chinese Phonology, such as the ‘Zhuyin-Mandarin Phonetic Symbols’, utilize the ‘ㄨ’ and ‘ㄟ’ phonetic characters to represent the compound vowel sound ‘ㄨㄟ’. The same compound vowel is represented in the “Chinese Phonetic Alphabet,” through the use of a triphthong vowel, “uei(wei)”. The phonetic symbol consists of a “Medial + Nucleus + Coda.” When “uei” is used in conjunction with an initial consonant, the main vowel “e” is omitted and the sound is represented by the Diphthong vowel, “ui” (Medial + Coda). The tone is marked on the final note of the rhyme, “i”. This anomaly results from the Chinese Pinyin alphabet’s preference for the visual effect of the letters in lieu of an accurate representation of the pronunciation. Several studies have been conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of the Zhuyin-Mandarin Phonetic Symbology system. In the Survey Experiment and the Phonetic Experiment, learners who relied on this symbolic system were able to recognize the complexities of the Chinese syllable structure. The studies also suggested that these learners displayed an advanced degree of pronunciation acquisition. In contrast, most Chinese learners who develop their language abilities using the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet are unaware of the fluidity of the “ui” vowel and how its finals, 'wei[ueɪ]' and 'ui[ui]', adapt to the presence or absence of initials.

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