S3 ~ 02 ~ Supermarkets need music 超市需要音樂!

Mandarin From the Ground Up

10-05-2023 • 14 mins

Let's learn another tone pair! Can you hear which one it is?

Learning the pronunciation of a foreign language can sometimes feel strange, even scary. Pronunciation is such a personal thing -- it's part of who we are, and how we express ourselves. When we start to imitate another language, it's easy to start feeling like "this isn't me."

If you find yourself feeling that way, try to just observe the feeling without judging either yourself or the language. You might even take it as a good sign, because it means you're going outside your own comfort zone!

Learning a new pronunciation system -- a new way of expressing yourself through sound -- is an opportunity to expand your sense of yourself. But don't expect it to happen all at once. Our ears are specially tuned to the sounds of our own native language(s), and at first, we won't be able to hear or pronounce the sounds of another language nearly so precisely.

So ease yourself into the new language. Let yourself have fun. Exaggerate the sounds as you imitate them -- especially the tones! More than likely, what sounds like exaggeration to you is actually just the normal pronunciation of an unfamiliar language.

About today's lesson

We start by hearing another silly phrase composed entirely of today's tone pair. You'll probably never need to say this particular phrase, but that's also not the point. By practicing listening to and imitating exactly what we hear, we are strengthening our Mandarin listening and speaking muscles, and simultaneously sensitizing our ears to this tone pattern.

Next, we will hear a natural dialogue with a lot of words that use the same tone pair, giving our ears a chance to practice recognizing it in natural speech. And of course we'll get to learn a lot of new useful words and phrases in the bargain. Ready?

Lesson Outline:

  1. [00:21] Introduction
  2. [00:49] Magic Phrase
  3. [03:31] Practice repeating the Magic Phrase
  4. [05:45] Tone Pair Safari: Dialogue
  5. [07:55] Translation of the dialogue
  6. [11:55] Hear the dialogue one more time


Magic Phrase (1-4)
This phrase is composed entirely of words that use the 1-4 tone pair. In this lesson, we use it to practice identifying and then pronouncing the tones, hearing how they interact with each other in context.

超市需要音樂,醫院需要安靜!
Chāoshì xūyào yīnyuè, yīyuàn xūyào ānjìng!

Tone Pair Safari (1-4)
Once we are familiar with the 1-4 tone pair, we listen to a new dialogue that is filled with more words that use this tone pair. In doing so, we sharpen our listening skills by practicing paying attention to the tones we hear.

Transcript of the dialogue (Chinese characters only)

L:生日快樂!欸?你不高興?
M:我生病了!
L:你生日你就生病!是不是因為天氣。我把窗戶關閉。
M:不是,是工作壓力啦。
L:你需要去醫院嗎?
M:我不相信醫院會幫助我。
L:因為醫生不專業?還是因為醫院裡的空氣不好?
M:我發現醫院不太乾淨。
L:是哦。好,我尊重你。
M:【嘆氣】 … 這裡好安靜。
L:你看!我剛剛經過了超市,我買了雞蛋。
M:你要做蛋糕給我?!
L:不是啊,我要煎蛋給你。
M:生日雞蛋?
L:你要聽音樂嗎?祝你生日快樂,祝你生日快樂…
M:你好幽默。



Transcript of the dialogue (w/ pinyin and translation)
Use this as a visual listening guide, or if you want to check your tone comprehension. Tones are indicated by marks above the letters in the pinyin transliteration, as follows: (1)  ā  (2)  á  (3)  ǎ  (4)  à

  • L:生日快樂!欸?你不高興?
    • Shēngrì kuàilè! Āi? Nǐ bù gāoxìng?
    • Happy birthday! Huh? You’re unhappy?
  • M:我生病了!
    • Wǒ shēngbìngle!
    • I’m sick!
  • L:你生日你就生病!是不是因為天氣。我把窗戶關閉。
    • Nǐ shēngrì nǐ jiù shēngbìng! Shì bùshì yīn wéi tiānqì. Wǒ bǎ chuānghù guānbì.
    • You got sick on your birthday! It’s because of the weather, isn’t it. I’ll close the window.
  • M:不是,是工作壓力啦。
    • Bùshì, shì gōngzuò yālì la.
    • It’s not that, it’s pressure from work.
  • L:你需要去醫院嗎?
    • Nǐ xūyào qù yīyuàn ma?
    • Do you need to go to the hospital?
  • M:我不相信醫院會幫助我。
    • Wǒ bù xiāngxìn yīyuàn huì bāngzhù wǒ.
    • I don’t believe the hospital will help me.
  • L:因為醫生不專業?還是因為醫院裡的空氣不好?
    • Yīnwèi yīshēng bù zhuānyè? Háishì yīnwèi yīyuàn lǐ de kōngqì bù hǎo?
    • Because the doctors are unprofessional? Or because the hospital has bad air?
  • M:我發現醫院不太乾淨。
    • Wǒ fāxiàn yīyuàn bù tài gānjìng.
    • I realized the hospital isn’t very clean.
  • L:是哦。好,我尊重你。
    • Shì ó. Hǎo, wǒ zūnzhòng nǐ.
    • Oh. Ok. I respect you. (implies: I respect your decision.)
  • M:【嘆氣】 … 這裡好安靜。
    • [Tànqì]… zhèlǐ hǎo ānjìng.
    • Sigh... It’s so quiet here.
  • L:嘿!你看!我剛剛經過了超市,我買了雞蛋。
    • Hēi!Nǐ kàn! Wǒ gānggāng jīngguòle chāoshì, wǒ mǎile jīdàn.
    • Hey, look! I just passed by a supermarket. I bought eggs.
  • M:你要做生日蛋糕給我?!
    • Nǐ yào zuò dàngāo gěi wǒ?!
    • You’re going to make a birthday cake for me?!
  • L:不是啊,我要煎蛋給你。
    • Bùshì a, wǒ yào jiān dàn gěi nǐ.
    • No, I’m going to fry eggs for you.
  • M:生日雞蛋?
    • Shēngrì jīdàn?
    • Birthday eggs?
  • L:你要聽音樂嗎?祝你生日快樂,祝你生日快樂…
    • Nǐ yào tīng yīnyuè ma? Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè, zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè…
    • Do you want to listen to music? Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…
  • M:你好幽默。
    • Nǐ hǎo yōumò.
    • You’re so humorous.


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