Pronunciation


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

How to pronounce Pu-erh

Pu-air (like you breath)
23
85%
Pu-aarrr (like a pirate)
4
15%
 
Total votes : 27

suggestion

Postby orguz » Aug 15th, '08, 18:42

maybe we should give it a new pronunciation, like bourbon became "burban" as in turban, instead of sounding like boorbon as in boorish and bonfire. Sooner or later any foreign word becomes bastardised.
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Postby Beidao » Aug 18th, '08, 16:13

At a local restaurant were they serve good-quality tea, the Chinese waiter pronounces it "pwur" or "pourrr". And never only puerh, always puercha.
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Re: suggestion

Postby Geekgirl » Aug 18th, '08, 17:23

orguz wrote:instead of sounding like boorbon as in boorish and bonfire.


Um... :? Must be a regional thing.
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Postby xuancheng » Aug 18th, '08, 22:15

I have seen Pu-erh written Bolay, as noted above, from the Cantonese, but never Polay. Just a question of romanization.

Pu-erh is two syllables, not just one rhotocized syllable like in beijing dialect. In standard Mandarin, the second syllable should be pronounced somewhere between Arrr! like a pirate and er as in stalling for time. But as most Chinese people don't really speak standard mandarin, its probably even more authentic if everyone says it a little bit differently. :P
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Postby Salsero » Aug 19th, '08, 08:58

xuancheng wrote:I have seen Pu-erh ~snip~ if everyone says it a little bit differently.
Thanks for that lucid and very insightful statement in perfect English with what appears to be perfect understanding of Chinese.

Welcome to TeaChat, hope to hear from you many, many more times in the future. Don't be shy about stopping into TeaDay now and then, and I for one would be curious to learn more about who and where you are if you care to post in the Introduction to TeaChat thread.
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Postby VinceBLG » Aug 19th, '08, 14:51

I also say poo-air but have a tendency to make it one syllable like pwehr.
I have a friend who does not like pu-erh - she calls it dirt tea.
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Postby uniformsquare » Oct 9th, '08, 22:55

poo-er for me, like a person who takes poos.

this might come from hitting myself in the head with a ball peen hammer because I was bored.
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Postby wyardley » Oct 10th, '08, 00:48

I say it more or less poowur - kind of in between one syllable and two, with the second syllable pretty short and de-stressed. My girlfriend is a native Mandarin speaker (though from Southern China, so her Mandarin isn't that standard), and that's more or less my best attempt at saying it how she says it.

I made her say it by itself just now and listened carefully, and there's a little bit of an "ar" in there, but not at all the way white people say it, all pirate-like. I could be wrong, but I think it's the "e" sound that sinosplice describes as "somewhere between 'put' and 'uh'".

It's going to be hard for non native speakers to say it exactly right, especially since it's a double third tone (pǔ ěr). Maybe someone else can step in and say if that's pronounced with a half third tone (which is basically a second tone) and then a full tone, or if the 'er' ends up being more of a neutral tone, though I don't think most native speakers think about the tones, because they just say it right naturally.

Anyway, I think "poowur" is closer to the sound most Mandarin speakers would make than "poo arrr" or "poo air".

I remember the first time I was trying to order pu'er from a Cantonese vendor - it took him a long time to realize I was talking about bolay.
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Postby t4texas » Oct 10th, '08, 00:59

wyardley wrote:I say it more or less poowur - kind of in between one syllable and two, with the second syllable pretty short and de-stressed. My girlfriend is a native Mandarin speaker (though from Southern China, so her Mandarin isn't that standard), and that's more or less my best attempt at saying it how she says it.

I made her say it by itself just now and listened carefully, and there's a little bit of an "ar" in there, but not at all the way white people say it, all pirate-like. I could be wrong, but I think it's the "e" sound that sinosplice describes as "somewhere between 'put' and 'uh'".

It's going to be hard for non native speakers to say it exactly right, especially since it's a double third tone (pǔ ěr). Maybe someone else can step in and say if that's pronounced with a half third tone (which is basically a second tone) and then a full tone, or if the 'er' ends up being more of a neutral tone, though I don't think most native speakers think about the tones, because they just say it right naturally.

Anyway, I think "poowur" is closer to the sound most Mandarin speakers would make than "poo arrr" or "poo air".

I remember the first time I was trying to order pu'er from a Cantonese vendor - it took him a long time to realize I was talking about bolay.


That's the way I have come to understand the pronunciation, too. When I said Poo-air to the guy at CTG, he looked puzzled until he figured out what I was trying to say. My pronunciation is far enough off (though getting better, I hope) that my version of his pronunciation does not always get it right. All this has inspired me to start learning a little basic Mandarin.
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Postby chad » Oct 10th, '08, 10:59

Not speaking Chinese myself (but I have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express!), but having worked with Chinese linguist for a number of years (none available for consultation at this time) I would lean towards the "pwur" slurred pronunciation if I was being "proper". Chinese is tone based and many/most words have multiple meanings depending on the tone and inflection.

So, when dealing with non-Chinese I tend to say Poo-errr. But then, I'm from the south and have an accent -- French class in high school was a hoot!! :D
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Postby Bubba_tea » Oct 10th, '08, 11:40

It's 'Poo - R' (R - like the letter) - say it sharp (especially with the Beijing accent - they love the 'R' sound... and add it to most everything...RrRrRrRrRr The Taiwanese make it softer sounding without the RRRRR sounds).

Pu-air - that's Frinese (French mixed with Chinese) - Chinese is spoken sharp, not elongated... syllable by syllable not sing-songy unless you're into opera

:mrgreen:
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Postby bearsbearsbears » Oct 10th, '08, 12:48

rules for standard mandarin vowels:

a: low middle a, like a in "father" but lower
e: prounced like the vowel of "but" unless in combination with another vowel, then pronounced like the e in "bet"
i: prounced like ee in bee unless used with retroflex zh, ch, sh, r or z, c, s, where it's prounced like the i in bit, but shorter and more fronted
o: like the o sound in "boat" but pre-labialized. more like the "au" sound in New England accent (as in "caught")
u: pronounced like oo in boot, slightly less rounded
ü: pronounced like French or German front rounded "i". Say "ee" and round your lips. This vowel appears where marked (lü, nü, etc.), and after j, q, x, y. Because regular u cannot be used in combination with those consonants, the ü is not marked with umlaut. (spelled ju/qu/xu/yu but pronounced jü/qü/xü/yü)

a raises to e (as in bet) in combination with i or y and n: qian is pronounced qien, Yuan is pronounced yüen...etc.

there are more rules...but those are enough to figure out that pu'ercha's vowels are oo, uh, a. an English rhyme with pu'er would be "too fur"

er is not pronounced as "air". in fact, "air/ehr" is not possible in standard Chinese phonology, because strong "eh" only appears in combination with other vowels, and er has only one vowel.

Maybe in some regional accent it's air, but I never heard it pronounced "air" in China, and I travelled to many regions of the country (Northeast, southwest, coastal south, central).
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Postby augie » Oct 10th, '08, 21:10

bearsbearsbears wrote:rules for standard mandarin vowels:


God love you BBB, but just make us a video and post it on you-tube! :) You lost me at "father"! LOL It's friday and I'm out of brain cells . . .

I'm "White & Nerdy" and low-class and pronounce it "Poooor".
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Postby MarshalN » Oct 11th, '08, 00:48

Uh, guys...

In Mandarin, it should be "Pu-uh", with the uh going DOWN, not up. So if you do pu-air, it's wrong. Pu-aaar is wrong too. Uh is the closest sound you make in English to what "er" sounds like. BBB's suggestion of "ur" in "fur" is ok, as long as you don't overdo the u sound...

If you talk to somebody who speaks Cantonese, it's "po-lei". Po is like the po in poach. Lei is like the laid without the d.
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Postby tsusentei » Oct 11th, '08, 01:46

Couldn't vote...

Definitely "pooh" and "er" said as a single word. (or poowur, or pooer, etc.) That seems to be the consensus, and I would agree.
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