Erhua (simplified Chinese: 儿化; traditional Chinese: 兒化; pinyin: érhuà [ɚ˧˥xwä˥˩]); also called erization or rhotacization of syllable finals[1]) refers to a phonological process that adds r-coloring or the "er" (注音:, common words: [2]) sound (transcribed in IPA as [ɚ]) to syllables in spoken Mandarin Chinese. Erhuayin (simplified Chinese: 儿化音; traditional Chinese: 兒化音; pinyin: érhuàyīn) is the pronunciation of "er" after rhotacization of syllable finals.

It is most common in the speech varieties of North China, especially in the Beijing dialect, as a diminutive suffix for nouns, though some dialects also use it for other grammatical purposes. The Standard Chinese spoken in government-produced educational and examination recordings features erhua to some extent, as in 哪儿 nǎr ("where"), 一点儿 yìdiǎnr ("a little"), and 好玩儿 hǎowánr ("fun"). Colloquial speech in many northern dialects has more extensive erhua than the standardized language. Southwestern Mandarin dialects such as those of Chongqing and Chengdu also have erhua. By contrast, many Southern Chinese who speak non-Mandarin dialects may have difficulty pronouncing the sound or may simply prefer not to pronounce it, and usually avoid words with erhua when speaking Standard Chinese; for example, the three examples listed above may be replaced with the synonyms 哪里 nǎlǐ, 一点 yìdiǎn, 好玩 hǎowán. Furthermore, Erhua's presence in Guoyu (國語) in Taiwan is diminishing and it often not used at all.[3][4]

Only a small number of words in standardized Mandarin, such as èr "two" and ěr "ear", have r-colored vowels that do not result from the erhua process. All of the non-erhua r-colored syllables have no initial consonant, and are traditionally pronounced [ɚ] in Beijing dialect and in conservative/old Standard Mandarin varieties. In the recent decades, the vowel in the toned syllable "er" has been lowered in many accents, making the syllable come to approach or acquire a quality like "ar" (i.e. [äʵ] with the appropriate tone).

Rules in Standard MandarinEdit

The basic rules controlling the surface pronunciation of erhua are as follows:

  • Coda
    • /i/ and /n/ are deleted.
    • /ŋ/ is deleted and the syllable becomes nasalized.
    • /u/ becomes rhotacized.
  • Nucleus
    • [ɛ] becomes [ɐ] if it is an underlying /a/.
    • /ə/ and /u/ become rhotacized.
    • /i/ and /y/ become glides ([j] and [ɥ]).
    • [ɹ̩~ɻ̩] is deleted.

Following the rules that coda [i] and [n] are deleted, noted above, the finals in the syllables 把儿 (bàr), 伴儿 (bànr) 盖儿 (gàir) are all [ɐʵ]; similarly, the finals in the syllables 妹儿 (mèir) and 份儿 (fènr) are both also [ɚ]. The final in 趟儿 (tàngr) is similar but nasalized, because of the rule that the [ŋ] is deleted and the syllable is nasalized.

Because of the rule that [i] and [y] become glides, the finals of 气儿 (qìr) and 劲儿 (jìnr) are both [jɚ], and 裙儿 (qúnr) and 驴儿 (lǘr) are both [ɥɚ].

The following chart shows how the finals are affected by the addition of this suffix:[5][6]

IPA and pinyin counterparts of Zhuyin finals
Rhyme

a

o

e

ê

ai

ei

ao

ou

an

en

ang

eng
Medial [ɚ]
(ㄭ)ㄦ 1

-ir
[ɐʵ]
ㄚㄦ
ar
-ar
[ɔʵ]
ㄛㄦ
or
-or
[ɤʵ]
ㄜㄦ
e'r
-er
[ɐʵ]
ㄞㄦ
air
-air
[ɚ̯]
ㄟㄦ
eir
-eir
[au̯˞]
ㄠㄦ
aor
-aor
[ou̯˞]
ㄡㄦ
our
-our
[ɐʵ]
ㄢㄦ
anr
-anr
[ɚ̯]
ㄣㄦ
enr
-enr
[ɑ̃ʵ]
ㄤㄦ
angr
-angr
[ɤ̃ʵ]
ㄥㄦ
engr
-engr

i
[jɚ]
ㄧㄦ
yir
-ir
[jɐʵ]
ㄧㄚㄦ
yar
-iar
[jɛʵ]
ㄧㄝㄦ
yer
-ier
[jau̯ʵ]
ㄧㄠㄦ
yaor
-iaor
[jou̯ʵ]
ㄧㄡㄦ
your
-iur
[jɐʵ]
ㄧㄢㄦ
yanr
-ianr
[jɚ]
ㄧㄣㄦ
yinr
-inr
[jɑ̃ʵ]
ㄧㄤㄦ
yangr
-iangr
[jɤ̃ʵ]
ㄧㄥㄦ
yingr
-ingr

u
[u˞]
ㄨㄦ
wur
-ur
[wɐʵ]
ㄨㄚㄦ
war
-uar
[wɔʵ]
ㄨㄛㄦ
wor
-uor
[wɐʵ]
ㄨㄞㄦ
wair
-uair
[wɚ̯]
ㄨㄟㄦ
weir
-uir
[wɐʵ]
ㄨㄢㄦ
wanr
-uanr
[wɚ̯]
ㄨㄣㄦ
wenr
-unr
[wɑ̃ʵ]
ㄨㄤㄦ
wangr
-uangr
[wɤ̃ʵ], [ʊ̃˞]
ㄨㄥㄦ
wengr
-ongr

ü
[ɥɚ]
ㄩㄦ
yur
-ür
[ɥœʵ]
ㄩㄝㄦ
yuer
-üer
[ɥɐʵ]
ㄩㄢㄦ
yuanr
-üanr
[ɥɚ]
ㄩㄣㄦ
yunr
-ünr
[jʊ̃ʵ]
ㄩㄥㄦ
yongr
-iongr

ExamplesEdit

  • 一瓶 (yìpíng, one bottle) → 一瓶儿 (yìpíngr), pronounced [i˥˩pʰjɤ̃ʵ˧˥]
  • 公园 (gōngyuán, public garden) → 公园儿 (gōngyuánr), pronounced [kʊŋ˥ɥɐʵ˧˥]
  • 小孩 (xiǎohái, small child) → 小孩儿 (xiǎoháir), pronounced [ɕjau̯˨˩xɐʵ˧˥]
  • (shì) (thing) → 事儿 (shìr), pronounced [ʂɚ˥˩]

Beijing dialectEdit

Aside from its use as a diminutive, erhua in the Beijing dialect also serves to differentiate words; for example, 白面 (báimiàn "flour") and 白面儿 (báimiànr "heroin", literally "little white powder").[7] Additionally, some words may sound unnatural without rhotacization, as is the case with /花儿 (huā/huār "flower").[7] In these cases, the erhua serves to label the word as a noun (and sometimes a specific noun among a group of homophones). Since in modern Mandarin many single-syllable words (in which there are both nouns and adjectives) share the same pronunciation, adding such a label on nouns can reduce the complication.

As an example, the syllable wǎn may mean one of "bowl" (), "gentleness" (), "to take (hand) with hand; to roll (sleeve)" (), a short form of "Anhui" (), a place name and surname (), and "late; night" (). However, of these words, only "碗儿" (wǎnr, bowl, or the little bowl) can generally have erhua. Further, many people erhua 晚, but only when it means "night" and not "late". The rest never has erhua, and erhua attempts will cause incomprehension.

Erhua does not always occur at the end of a word in Beijing dialect. Although it must occur at the end of the syllable, it can be added to the middle of many words, and there is not a rule to explain when it should be added to the middle. For example, 板儿砖 (bǎnrzhuān, "brick", especially the brick used as a weapon) should not be 板砖儿 (bǎnzhuānr).

The composition of the erhua system varies within Beijing, with the following variations reported. Apart from sub dialects, many sociological factors are involved, such as gender, age, ethnicity, inner/outer city, South/North.[8]

  • Some differentiate -ar (nucleus a with no coda) from -anr/-air (nucleus a with coda -i/-n). The typical distinction is [äʵ] vs [ɐʵ].
  • Some merge -er (single e with erhua) with -enr/-eir. This may depend on phonological environments, such as the tone and the preceding consonant.
  • Some merge -ier and -üer from -ir/-inr and -ür/-ünr.[5]
  • Some merge -uor with -uir/-unr.
  • Some lose the nasalization of -ngr, thus potentially merging pairs like -ir/-ingr, -enr/-engr and -angr/-anr.

In other Mandarin varietiesEdit

Note: Tones in this part are marked by the tone diacritics of the corresponding tone in Standard Mandarin, and do not necessarily represent the actual realization of tones.

The realization and behavior of erhua are very different among Mandarin dialects. Some rules mentioned before are still generally applied, such as the deletion of coda [i] and [n] and the nasalization with the coda [ŋ]. Certain vowels' qualities may also change. However, depending on the exact dialect, the actual behavior, rules and realization can differ greatly.

Chongqing and Chengdu dialectsEdit

Erhua in Chengdu and Chongqing is collapsed to only one set: [ɚ] [jɚ] [wɚ] [ɥɚ],[9] Many words become homophonous as a result, for example 板儿 bǎnr "board" and 本儿 běnr "booklet", both pronounced [pɚ] with the appropriate tone. It is technically feasible to write all erhua in Pinyin simply as -er.

Besides its diminutive and differentiating functions, erhua in these two dialects can also make the language more vivid.[9] In Chongqing, erhua can also be derogative.[10]

Different from Beijing, erhua can be applied to people's names and kinship words, such as cáoyēr (diminutive of the name Cao Ying 曹英儿) and xiǎomèr "little sister" (小妹儿).[9]

Erhua occurs in more names of places, vegetables and little animals compared to Beijing.[9]

Erhua causes sandhi for the reduplication of monosyllabic words. In both dialects, the application of erhua to a monosyllabic noun usually results in its reduplication, e.g. "dish" becomes 盘盘儿 pánpánr "little dish". The second syllable invariably has yángpíng (Chinese: 陽平) or the second tone.[9]

In Chongqing, erhua causes sandhi in some bisyllabic reduplicative adverbs, where second syllable acquires yīnpíng (Chinese: 陰平) or the first tone.[9]

Northeast and Shandong dialectsEdit

Northeastern Mandarin, Jilu Mandarin, and Jiaoliao Mandarin generally differentiate more pairs of erhua than in Beijing.

The resultant erhua rhymes of those of nucleus /a/ with coda /i/, /n/ and with zero coda are widely distinguished. For example, 家儿 (jiār), the count word for individual house(hold)s, companies, and shops, is different from 间儿 (jiānr), the count word for buildings and functional units within buildings; 耙儿 (pár) "harrow" is different from 盘儿 (pánr) "dish", the latter undistinguished from 牌儿 (páir) "card". Some further distinguish pairs like -ir/-inr and -ür/-ünr, making 鸡儿 (jīr) "little chicken" and 今儿 (jīnr) "today" different.

The difference is usually exhibited in the erhua coda and/or the quality of the nucleus.

Non-rhotic erhuaEdit

A handful of words exhibit a fossilized lexical form of nasal-coda erhua. An example is 鼻涕儿 bíting /pi2.tʰiŋ/ "nasal mucus", cf. the etymon 鼻涕 bíti /pi2.tʰi/.

Nanjing dialectEdit

Erhua causes the medial /i/ to be dropped and the shǎng (third) tone to assimilate to the yángpíng (second) tone, the original tone of the morpheme .

The Nanking dialect preserves the checked syllable (pinyin: rùshēng) and thus possesses a coda /ʔ/. Erhua checked syllables are realized with /-ɻʔ/.

Other Chinese languages than MandarinEdit

Some dialects of Taihu Wu Chinese exhibit a similar phenomenon with the morpheme [ŋ]. Wu erhua generally uses a nasal coda instead of a rhotic one, such as [n] ~ [ɲ] ~ [ŋ]. Rarely, erhua causes vowel umlaut.

For example, 麻将 "Mahjong" is etymologically 麻雀儿 "little sparrow", from 麻雀 /mo.t͡si̯ɐʔ/ "sparrow". The syllable /t͡si̯ɐʔ/ tsiah undergoes erhua with the morpheme /ŋ̩/ ng, resulting in the syllable /t͡si̯aŋ/ tsiang, which is then represented by the homophonous but etymologically unrelated word /t͡si̯aŋ/ tsiang. Further examples include (tones not represented):

  • 麻雀 /mo.t͡si̯ɐʔ/ "sparrow" → 麻雀儿/麻将 麻雀兒/麻將 /mo.t͡si̯aŋ/ "Mahjong"
  • /nœ/ "girl" → 囡儿/囡兒 /nœ.ŋ̩/ "little girl; daughter"
  • 虾/蝦 /ho/ "shrimp" → 虾儿/蝦兒 /hœ/ "little shrimp"

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Penelope Eckert. Meaning and Linguistic Variation: The Third Wave in Sociolinguistics. 2018
  2. ^ 汪德琪. 对规范儿化的争议. 江西师范大学学报(哲学社会科学版). 1987年第3期. pp. 58–60
  3. ^ "台灣國語的語音特色 | 台灣華語教學入口網站". twtcsl.org. Retrieved 2020-01-04.
  4. ^ Shin, Woosun. "臺灣國語的重疊式". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b Duanmu, San (2007). The Phonology of Standard Chinese (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 218–223.
  6. ^ Lin, Yen-Hwei (2007). The Sounds of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 182–188.
  7. ^ a b Chen, Ping (1999). Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. p. 39.
  8. ^ 林焘 沈炯 (1995): 北京话儿化韵的语音分歧
  9. ^ a b c d e f 郑有仪 : 北京话和成都话、重庆话的儿化比较
  10. ^ 重庆方言中的儿化现象 (unknown author)

External linksEdit