The word for "taxi" in Chinese is notoriously tricky to pronounce...
The way the sounds and tones combine makes it feel like a mini tongue twister!
So if you're one of the many students who find it hard to say this word at normal speed, this quick tutorial is for you.
A Chinese Word 99% of Learners Mispronounce
In this short lesson, we'll focus on a commonly mispronounced Chinese word: 出租车 (chūzūchē), "taxi" .
The first character, 出 (chū), means "to exit." The second character, 租 (zū), means "to rent". The third character, 车 (chē), means "vehicle" or "car." When combined, these characters form the word for "taxi".
出租车 "chū zū chē" .
So what makes this word hard to say?
Well, for some, it feels strange and robotic to say three first tones in a row, so they accidentally change one of the tones, e.g. "chū zǔ chē".
To get comfortable with this, just “hum” three first tones
Hmm1 Hmm1 Hmm1
"chū zū chē"
The other thing that trips learners up, is that the word contains a combination of sounds that are tricky to say.
So let’s first get it right… slowly.
ch: To make this sound, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth. Then, release the air with a slight friction sound. Practice with me: ch, ch, ch.
ū: To make this sound, round your lips. and let the air flow through your mouth. without any friction.
z: The pinyin z is like the "ds" sound in the English word "beds." To make this sound, place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth, and release the air with a slight friction sound.
e: To make this sound, relax your mouth and let the air flow through your mouth without any friction.
Practice: Now that we know the correct pronunciation, let's practice together.
Slow: chū zū chē
Medium: chū zū chē
Fast: chū zū chē
Good! Now let’s put it into a sentence:
- 我需要一辆出租车。 (Wǒ xūyào yī liàng chūzūchē.) - I need a taxi.
- 请帮我叫一辆出租车。 (Qǐng bāng wǒ jiào yī liàng chūzūchē.) - Please help me call a taxi.
And that's it! Now you know how to correctly pronounce 出租车 (chūzūchē). Keep practicing, and you'll soon be hailing taxis in China like a pro!
You might also find these posts interesting: