The Comparison of Hungarian and Chinese Phonological Systems: A Pedagogical Perspective

  • Qiuyue YeEmail author
  • Huba Bartos
Part of the Educational Linguistics book series (EDUL, volume 31)


This paper is intended to contribute to the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language in Hungary by filling a notable gap in the literature. There have been few studies of the specific differences between Hungarian and Chinese and none at all which apply contrastive analysis of phonetic and phonological systems for pedagogical purposes. After a brief general introduction of Hungarian and Chinese, the paper offers an in-depth comparison between the segmental and suprasegmental phonetic systems of the two languages. The comparison is divided into separate sections, each of which is further subdivided, dealing with consonants, vowels, syllable tones, syllable structure, stress and intonation. The paper continues with a discussion of which of the identified differences are likely to cause difficulties both in terms of acquisition by Hungarian learners and in terms of communicative efficiency. The two features that emerge as the most problematic are suprasegmental intonation and syllable tone. The latter, given its essential and pervasive semantic value, is proposed as the feature that deserves the most attention of teachers and learners.


  1. Chao, Y. R. (1929). Beiping Yudiao Yanjiu [The study of Beijing Mandarin intonation]. In Z. Wu and X. Zhao (Eds.), Chao Yueren’s Linguistic papers (pp. 253–271). Beijing: The Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chao, Y. R. (1948). Mandarin primer: An intensive course in spoken Chinese. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chao, Y. R. (1968). A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Chao, Y. R. (1983). Tongzi fang’an [A project for general Chinese]. Beijing: Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  5. Crystal, D. (1995). Documenting rhythmical change. In J. Lewis (Ed.), Studies in general and English phonetics: Essays in honor of Professor J. D. O’Connor (pp. 174–179). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Duanmu, S. (2000). The phonology of standard Chinese. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1974). Natural sequences in child second language acquisition. Language Learning, 24, 37–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gósy, M. (2004). Fonetika, a beszéd tudománya [Phonetics: The science of speech]. Budapest: Osiris Kiadó.Google Scholar
  9. Hu, M. (1987). Beijinghua chutan [A preliminary study of the Peking dialect]. Beijing: Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  10. Huang, B., & Liao, X. (1991). Xiandai hanyu [Modern Chinese]. Beijing: Higher Education Press.Google Scholar
  11. Jin, S. (1992). Beijinghua yudiao de shiyan tansuo [An empirical study of the tones in Beijing dialect]. Language Teaching and Linguistic Studies, 2, 71–96.Google Scholar
  12. Jones, D. (1917). An English pronouncing dictionary. London: Dent.Google Scholar
  13. Kálmán, L., & Nádasdy, A. (1994). A hangsúly [Stress]. In F. Kiefer (Ed.), Strukturális Magyar Nyelvtan 2. – Fonológia [A structural grammar of Hungarian vol. 2. – Phonology]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 393–467.Google Scholar
  14. Kiefer, F., & Kiss, K. E. (Eds.). (1994). The syntactic structure of Hungarian: Syntax and semantics (Vol. 27). San Diego/New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kornai, A. (1994). On Hungarian morphology (Linguistica, Series A: Studia et Dissertations, 14). Budapest: Linguistics Institute of HAS.Google Scholar
  16. Lee, W. S., & Zee, E. (2003). Standard Chinese (Beijing). Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33, 109–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li, F.-K. (1972). Language and dialects in China. Free China Review, 22(5).Google Scholar
  18. Lin, T. (1996). Yuyin yanjiu he duiwai hanyu jiaoxue [Phonology study and teaching Chinese as a second Language]. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference on Chinese Language Teaching, Beijing.Google Scholar
  19. Lin, M. (2004). Hanyu yudiao yu shengdiao [Intonations and tones in Chinese]. Applied Linguistics, 3, 57–67.Google Scholar
  20. Lin, Y.-H. (2007). The sounds of Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lu, J. (2010). Duiwai hanyu yuyin jiaoxue jige jiben wenti de zai renshi [Revisiting the fundamental problems in Chinese as a second language teaching]. Journal of Dalian College, 5, 1–4.Google Scholar
  22. Luo, C., & Wang, J. (2002). Putong yuyanxue gangyao (Xiuding ben) [General linguistics]. Beijing: Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  23. Nádasdy, A. (1985). Segmental phonology and morphophonology. In I. Kenesei (Ed.), Approaches to Hungarian 1: Data and descriptions (pp. 225–246). Szeged: JATE.Google Scholar
  24. Norman, J. (1988). Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Prator, C. (1967). Guidelines for planning classes and teaching materials. In Working papers in English as a second language, matter, methods, materials. Los Angeles: University of California.Google Scholar
  26. Pulleyblank, E. (1984). Middle Chinese: A study in historical phonology. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.Google Scholar
  27. Roach, P. (1982). On the distinction between stress-timed and syllable-timed languages. In D. Crystal (Ed.), Linguistic controversies (pp. 73–79). London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  28. Rogers, C. (1969). Freedom to learn: A view of what education might become. Columbus: Charles E. Merrill.Google Scholar
  29. Seikel, A., King, D., & Drumright, D. (2010). Anatomy & physiology for speech, language and hearing (4th ed.). Cliffon Park: Delmar Language Learning.Google Scholar
  30. Shen, J. (1994). Hanyu yudiao gouzao he yudiao leixing [Chinese intonation structure and patterns]. Dialectica, 3, 221–228.Google Scholar
  31. Siptár, P., & Törkenczy, M. (2000). The phonology of Hungarian. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Wu, Z. (1997). Cong shengdiao he yuelü de guanxi tichu Putonghua pudiao chuli de xinfangfa [A new method of standard Chinese intonation processing based on the relation between tone and melody]. In In Collected essays dedicated to the 45th anniversary of the Institute of Linguistics, CASS. Beijing: Commercial Press.Google Scholar
  33. Xu, S. (1980). Putonghua yuyin zhishi [Chinese phonetics]. Beijing: Language Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chinese Studies, Faculty of HumanitiesEotvos Lorand UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Theoretical LinguisticsResearch Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Institute of East Asian Studies, Eotvos Lorand UniversityBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations