S3 ~ 01 ~ American strawberries on sale 美國草莓打折!

Mandarin From the Ground Up

01-05-2023 • 21 mins

Welcome back for Season 3! In this series, we are going to do a deep dive on the tones in Mandarin.

We covered tones briefly in Season 1, Episode 07, but there is still a lot more to talk about. Tones are one of those subjects that some people love and many people hate... or at least find unpleasant, and possibly somewhat frightening. It's my mission in Season 3 to dispel all your fears about tones. By the end of this season, my hope is that tones will be second nature for you.

Even if you already have a good grasp of the tones, I think you'll still get something from these lessons. They are full of stories and dialogues which, aside from exhibiting each particular tone pair, are also full of useful words and phrases, and are designed to evoke silly or even absurd mental images that will make them more memorable.

In this episode, I spend some time explaining the importance of tones, the significance and usefulness of tone pairs, and reviewing the basic tones with a new mnemonic device based on movement. Then we jump right in and start learning the first of 16 unique tone pairs.

Lesson Outline:

  1. [00:21] Introduction to Season 3
  2. [00:54] Why do we need to focus so much on tones?
  3. [04:17] Review of the four basic tones
  4. [06:34] What are tone pairs?
  5. [10:58] How these lessons work
  6. [11:43] Lesson part 1 - Magic Phrase
  7. [15:35] Practice repeating the Magic Phrase
  8. [16:53] Lesson part 2 - Tone Pair Safari
  9. [19:39] Thanks to supporters <3


Magic Phrase (3-2)
This phrase is composed entirely of words that use the 3-2 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.

導遊本來以為美國草莓打折!
Dǎoyóu běnlái yǐwéi měiguó cǎoméi dǎzhé!

Tone Pair Safari (3-2)
Once we are familiar with the 3-2 tone pair, we listen to a short story 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. We also start to learn a bunch of useful words and phrases.

Transcript of the story
我朋友是警察。他以前很想要減肥。可是他感覺很難!因為他女兒每次旅行都會買奶油餅乾。警察請求他女兒不要再買,女兒說不行,餅乾很有名,吃餅乾讓她感覺很滿足!我覺得警察很可憐!最後,警察的老婆解決了問題。她去賭博。賭博很快就沒錢。然後女兒不能去旅行。雖然減肥的問題解決了,但是警察還是很倒霉。

Line by line, with pinyin
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

我朋友是警察。
Wǒ péngyǒu shì jǐngchá.

他以前很想要減肥。
Tā yǐqián hěn xiǎng yào jiǎnféi.

可是他感覺很難!
Kěshì tā gǎnjué hěn nán!

因為他女兒每次旅行都會買奶油餅乾。
Yīnwèi tā nǚ'ér měi cì lǚxíng dōu huì mǎi nǎiyóu bǐnggān.

警察請求他女兒不要再買,
Jǐngchá qǐngqiú tā nǚ'ér bùyào zài mǎi,

女兒說不行,
nǚ'ér shuō bu xíng,

餅乾很有名,
bǐnggān hěn yǒumíng,

吃餅乾讓她感覺很滿足!
chī bǐnggān ràng tā gǎnjué hěn mǎnzú!

我覺得警察很可憐!
Wǒ juédé jǐngchá hěn kělián!

最後,警察的老婆解決了問題。
Zuìhòu, jǐngchá de lǎopó jiějué le wèntí.

她去賭博。賭博很快就沒錢。
Tā qù dǔbó. Dǔbó hěn kuài jiù méi qián.

然後女兒不能去旅行。
Ránhòu nǚ'ér bùnéng qù lǚxíng.

雖然減肥的問題解決了,但是警察還是很倒霉。
Suīrán jiǎnféi de wèntí jiějuéle, dànshì jǐngchá háishì hěn dǎoméi.


Translation of the story
I'd like to encourage you to listen through the whole lesson at least once before you look at the translation. Then you can decide if and when to look, depending on your level. Especially if your Mandarin comprehension is already good enough that you understood 20% or more of the story just by listening, then it might be valuable for you to continue listening repeatedly in the days to come, observing how your comprehension improves with each listen. Once you are familiar with the sounds, you can look at the translation to fill in any missing pieces.

That said, there is no one correct way to do this. If you feel a strong desire to read the passage and understand it all before you continue with the listening practice, that's still valid.

  1. 我朋友是警察。
    1. Wǒ péngyǒu shì jǐngchá.
    2. My friend is a police officer.
  2. 他以前很想要減肥。
    1. Tā yǐqián hěn xiǎng yào jiǎnféi.
    2. Before, he really wanted to lose weight.
  3. 可是他感覺很難!
    1. Kěshì tā gǎnjué hěn nán!
    2. But he felt it was very difficult!
  4. 因為他女兒每次旅行都會買奶油餅乾。
    1. Yīnwèi tā nǚ'ér měi cì lǚxíng dōu huì mǎi nǎiyóu bǐnggān.
    2. Because his daughter, every time she went traveling, she would buy butter cookies.
  5. 警察請求他女兒不要再買,
    1. Jǐngchá qǐngqiú tā nǚ'ér bùyào zài mǎi,
    2. The police officer asked (his) daughter not to buy (them) again,
  6. 女兒說不行,
    1. nǚ'ér shuō bu xíng,
    2. (His) daughter said it's impossible,
  7. 餅乾很有名,
    1. bǐnggān hěn yǒumíng,
    2. The cookies are very famous,
  8. 吃餅乾讓她感覺很滿足!
    1. chī bǐnggān ràng tā gǎnjué hěn mǎnzú!
    2. Eating the cookies makes her feel very satisfied!
  9. 我覺得警察很可憐!
    1. Wǒ juédé jǐngchá hěn kělián!
    2. I feel the police officer is so pitiful (I take pity on him).
  10. 最後,警察的老婆解決了問題。
    1. Zuìhòu, jǐngchá de lǎopó jiějué le wèntí.
    2. At last, the police officer's wife solved the problem.
  11. 她去賭博。賭博很快就沒錢。
    1. Tā qù dǔbó. Dǔbó hěn kuài jiù méi qián.
    2. She went gambling. After gambling, very quickly there was no more money.
  12. 然後女兒不能去旅行。
    1. Ránhòu nǚ'ér bùnéng qù lǚxíng.
    2. Then (their) daughter couldn't go traveling.
  13. 雖然減肥的問題解決了,但是警察還是很倒霉。
    1. Suīrán jiǎnféi de wèntí jiějuéle, dànshì jǐngchá háishì hěn dǎoméi.
    2. Even though the weight loss problem was solved, but the police officer is still very unlucky.

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