Thursday, July 12, 2012

Common different pronunciations of 的

的 is a character encountered fairly early in Chinese lessons. Its most common use is as the possessive particle, like apostrophe s in English. For that usage, the most common Pinyin pronunciation is (de). If you listen to Chinese music (or, better yet, participate in Chinese karaoke!), you are likely to have heard it as (dī), which is a romantic/flowery way of pronouncing it, though with the same possessive meaning. I can easily call to mind a refrain containing 我的愛 pronounced as (wǒ dī ài), meaning my love (the feeling, not a person), in a song by 童安格 (Tóng An [first tone doesn't show on the capital letter A] Gé; Angus Tung), the first Chinese pop singer to whom I was introduced (figuratively speaking) by a Taiwanese friend many years ago. 的 is also pronounced using different tones on di in these common two-character words:
  • 的確 (díquè) really (as an adverb)
  • 目的 (mùdì) purpose; aim; goal; objective

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