Re: Representation of neutral tone in pinyin and bopomofo

From: Stephan Stiller <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2013 00:39:22 -0800

> in now exotic styles where the letters /ĉ, ŝ, ẑ, ŋ/ were used as well
Interesting. ẑ, ĉ, ŝ (but not ŋ) have been part of most pinyin
descriptions at the end of dictionaries; ẑ, ĉ, ŝ are still listed in
Xiàndài Hànyǔ Cídiǎn's 6th edition. But de-facto noone uses them, and
I'd regard them as incorrect, even though technically they are (still?)

> I remember seeing the neutral tone marked with a dot above in pictures
> from the experimental early days of pīnyīn school teaching [...]. The
> drawback is that when the main vowel is /i/ (i.e. in the four rimes
> /-i, -in, -ing//, -ui/) this practice leads to a situation where the
> intended tone mark tends to become invisible /— //i/ vs. /i̇/ — and
> only works if the dot used for marking the neutral tone is much larger
> than the regular dot above /i/. (An alternative would be to do it “the
> Turkish way” and use undotted /ı/ instead of /i/, but this wasn’t the
> case. [...])
Well, /in principle/ they could have used two dots :-)

A minor thing:
> The CLDR collation data has this for zhuyin:
> [...]
> <<˙ # zhuyin fifth tone, neutral (unmarked in pinyin)
It's common to refer to the neutral tone as the "neutral tone" or the
"zero(th) tone" in English. I've seen "fifth tone", but it's definitely
minority usage (and semantically slightly misleading) – so I'd avoid
that descriptor.

Received on Sat Nov 23 2013 - 02:42:37 CST

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