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Question for the native speakers


Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

I have noticed that with the aspirated retroflex consonants (zh, ch, sh), Gwylim seems to hit the aspiration quite hard, and tongue further back, compared to Fiona or Constance. Are you able to describe for me what this sounds like to native ears? I.e. does it sound foreign, or perhaps proper and formal, or something else?

Also, is it preferable to hit the aspiration too hard, with the tongue tip too far back, than have it too far in front and sound too much like and english “sh” or “ch”?

Also (so many questions sorry!) I think I have noticed that Taiwanese people hit the retroflex less hard than mainland Chinese. Can you confirm or deny this?

I ask because i find myself doing exactly the same thing - in order to get the tongue movement right, i end up going a bit too far and to my ears it doesn’t sound as relaxed or natural as the native speakers. Thanks!



Hi Justin,

To pronounce the standard zh ch sh both in Taiwan and China, the position of your tongue is exactly where you would put your tongue when you say John in English. Only the tip of your tongue is facing forward for John and backward for zh ch sh.

Native speakers who put their tongue too further back or too front are influenced by their dialects. In Taiwanese dialect, there’s no curl sound so some people can’t curl their tongue for those sound in Mandarin.

You asked how does it sound to native ears. It depends. Some people try hard on those words then they sound foreign. Some people just can’t curl their tongues right or are used to curl their tongues too much then they sounds like other natives who don’t speak perfect Mandarin, which, in fact, is the majority of Chinese people.


Thank you so much for the detailed reply! I really appreciate it!