Fast Fluent Chinese

2 Secrets to Speaking Quickly & Fluently in Chinese – Connected Speech

In How to, Pronunciation by Angel Huang

In this lesson, we look at some fascinating ways that native speakers connect their words, to make it easier to speak quickly and fluently.

You'll learn essential tips and tricks to help you improve your speaking skills, and better understand the nuances of spoken Chinese!

Transcript & Summary of the Video Lesson

[Intro] Today we’re going to reveal two secrets to help you speak Chinese quickly and fluently. 

These are parts of connected speech.

Note: “Connected Speech is the natural way we modify words and sounds to make speech more fluid and efficient.”

So, if you're ready to take your speaking skills to the next level, then let's dive in!

1. Assimilation

Assimilation is when a sound changes to become more like a neighboring sound. 

For example: shén me 什么 (what) becomes→ shémme 什么 (what)

shénme → shémme

So notice that n is assimilated by m to make it easy to say the word quickly –– "shémme". 

Here are three more examples of assimilation:

zěn me → zěmme (怎么,how)

bān mǎ → bāmmǎ (斑马,zebra)

miàn bāo → miàmbāo (面包,bread)

So did you notice the pattern? 

The last sound of the first syllable (show all the example words and highlight the letter) changes (show the letters changing) to become more like the first sound of the second syllable (underline the first letter of the second syllable).

2. Elision

Elision is the loss of sounds in speech.

English Example: I don'(t) want it. → I don want it.  (in fast speech)

Chinese example: 

bú duì ➞ duì (不对,incorrect)

bú yào ➞ b yào (不要,don't)

In this case you drop the “ú” sound in “bú”. 

Another example is “shén me yì si ➞ shéms” (什么意思? What does it mean?)

In connected speech, it can sound like “shéms”.

So we drop the final vowel in "shén me" and "yìsi".

Let’s take one more example: 

wǒ men rèn shi tā ➞ wǒm rènsh tā (我们认识他。 We know him.)

In connected speech it’s more like “wǒm rènsh tā ”

So we drop the final sounds in "wǒ men" and " rèn shi".

Practising Connected speech (assimilation & elision)

When you know what assimilation & elision are, the next step is to try to 1. notice examples of it in authentic materials and 2. try to imitate the speaker. In the video above, we practised with authentic clips from my "Real Spoken Chinese Vault". 

Examples from The Real Spoken Chinese Vault:

Real Spoken Chinese Vault
Real Spoken Chinese Vault
Real Spoken Chinese Vault
Real Spoken Chinese Vault


By understanding and practicing assimilation and elision you'll be able to speak Chinese more fluently and naturally.  It will also help improve your Chinese listening ability and give you a better understanding of the nuances of spoken Chinese.

If you're looking for authentic materials to get a better grip of Chinese as it's actually spoken by native speakers, you might want to learn more about The Real Spoken Chinese Vault.

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