Chinese Tone Checking Software?
November 11, 2006 2:31 AM   Subscribe

Does a "Chinese Tone Checker" software program exist? For that matter, does any software exist that will show the pitches in my voice in a way that I could perfect my tones?

For the life of me I can't learn to speak the four Chinese tones [pitch up, hold pitch, pitch down, pitch down then up]. I over-emphasize them to the point of destruction when I use them at all. I can't even hear them when native speakers use them. Is there any software that will show me the tone/pitch of my voice? Preferably freeware, but I'll take anything.
posted by trinarian to Education (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry, can't help with the tone checker. However I did have a caucasian friend who had the same difficultly with learning the tones. For him it was mainly practice, however he did mention that learning tones for him was like learning to sing. That is, instead of speaking Chinese, he had to think of it as singing Chinese. But don't worry, the context will usually eliminate any confusion.

And sorry if I made the assumption that you're Caucasian, but in my experience, usually Caucasians have troubles with tones. I'm Vietnamese who learned Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese thru an odd routes. So I speak Chinese with a Vietnamese/Californian accent, and Vietnamese with a Chinese/Californian accent. Or at least, that what my teacher told me. She might have been joking, BTW.
posted by Cog at 3:16 AM on November 11, 2006

Best answer: Well ... stuff like "Rosetta Stone" will has a voice module. The "Instant Immersion" series has a Mandarin module (btw: are we talking Mandarin or Cantonese?)

Frankly, I wouldn't fret so much. Tones are important -- I don't want to mislead -- but they tend to fall into place with normal diligence. You might try some little tricks. When you practice, draw a finger up into the air when you do a 2nd tone, move your chin down and up when you do a 3rd tone, stamp your foot when you do a 4th, etc. Sounds silly, but it works.

posted by RavinDave at 3:19 AM on November 11, 2006

btw: Pronouncing tones in isolated woulds is nice -- except that people don't speak in isolated words. John Pasden (at Sinosplice) speaks to this issue quite often and he's offering some drills in tone-pairs that might benefit you. I have not had time to check it out myself, but John's rep on ChinesePod is stellar.

posted by RavinDave at 3:44 AM on November 11, 2006

This isn't exactly what you're looking for (won't tell you yes, that one's right; no that one's not), but I'd recommend checking out the DL Recorder software.

DL Recorder mimics in mp3 format a typical language lab set-up, where you have a tape playing an audio drill and another where you record your voice and then make comparisons. By replaying them, you can compare what you say to the original recording and improve tones, intonations, pronunciation, through that.

You can get the program free online (To obtain DL Recorder), and I'm sure you can find Mandarin pronunciation drills to use along side it - it does not require any special formatting of the samples.
posted by whatzit at 6:35 AM on November 11, 2006

Best answer: Antares Autotune will do it.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:50 AM on November 11, 2006

Hello-han has a pinyin chart that uses a chart with arrows to illustrate the tones visually while you listen to a native speaker say it. It's not a tone-checker, but I've found it very helpful for practice.
posted by ambrosia at 1:27 PM on November 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

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