Why are tones so important? Example sentence using dumplings & sleep (shui jiao)

Here are two sentences in pinyin to explain why tones are so important.  They would have the exact same pronunciation except different tones on shui & jiao.

xiǎo jie, shuǐ (三声) jiǎo (三声) yī wǎn duō shao qián?

小姐,水饺多少钱?

Miss - how much is a bowl of dumplings?

 

xiǎo jie, shuì (四声) jiào (四声) yī wǎn duō shao qián?

小姐,睡觉多少钱?

Miss (prostitute) - how much is it to sleep with you (one night)?

 

水饺 - shuǐ jiǎo:dumplings

睡觉 - shuì jiào:sleep

 

Note: 小姐 xiǎo jie is used differently in parts of China. In Shanghai you can use xiǎo jie to call a female waitress & it's understood to be waitress.  However it is also used as slang to refer to prostitutes or bar girls. Therefore you probably do not want to randomly call a girl that who isn't obviously a waitress or you might get slapped.  If you want to be safe you can also address a waiter/waitress as 服务员 fúwùyuán.

(photo credit joanho)

Views: 3029

Comment

What do you think? If you would like to comment you can join free

Join Study More Chinese

Comment by Sabrina Liu on June 4, 2011 at 4:17pm
so..did you get lucky with the tone?
Comment by Joelle Chevrier on April 23, 2011 at 8:53am
Shouldn't it be: 小姐,水饺一*碗*多少钱?
Comment by Ma Si Wen on April 22, 2011 at 11:19am
interesting post highlighting the importance of tones....actually i had a similar article on my blog too....check it out...Don't get toned out...

Recommended Resource

Certified Online Chinese Teacher

Recommended Live Chinese Class

Mandarin tutor on skype

mandarin tutor on skype

Popular School in China

Try I Love Learning Chinese

Sponsored Links

© 2019   Learn Chinese Online at Study More Chinese, created by Brandon. Contact us for links & advertising.

StudyMoreChinese on Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Google Plus  |  LinkedIN   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service