From the Sinoglot mailbag:
My name is Minkyu and I’m from Korea.
I am enjoying your blog a lot. I am currently learning Chinese as my fourth language and I am very interested in linguistic view on Chinese language.
I was randomly looking up for a Kana (Japanese phonogram) transcription chart of Mandarin Chinese by their pinyin (Romanization of Mandarin) [Link] and I came up with this question.
But here, you can see (I suppose you can read Japanese at least its Kanji (Hanzi) parts) that “you, miu, diu, niu, liu” are transcribed into “イウ/iu/, ミウ/miu/, ティウ/tiu/, ニウ/niu/, リウ/riu/” when it has either First tone (high) or Second tone(rising), and transcribed into “ヨウ/you/, ミョウ/myou/, テョウ/tyou/, ニョウ/nyou/, リョウ/ryou/” when it has either Third tone (dipping) and Fourth tone (falling).
I knew that the vowel part “iou” can be pronounced either way, [jow] or [jiw]–or even their middle– but I was never heard that this variation is according to their tones.
Could you tell me how “iou” varies in modern Madarin phonology please? Or is this difference just based on hearing cognition of Japanese-speakers?
And could you also tell me why “jiu, qiu, xiu” have no difference in their transcription and are transcribed into “チウ/chiu/, チウ/chiu/, シウ/shiu/” solely?
The Japanese Wikipedia page to which Minkyu directs us has two tables – the upper one for first and second tones and the lower one for third and fourth tones. Move over to the right to see the entries for pinyin iou.
Would any of our readers like to offer an explanation?