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Within China itself, there are many different languages that are members of the Sinitic Language Family, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Yin, and so on. Despite these acting as different languages, they are known in English as "dialects." There are many regional dialects of the official "dialects" of Chinese.[1]

The official language of the People's Republic of China is Mandarin, due to Mandarin being a wide-spread dialect and the dialect that officials would use in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Mandarin is not mutually intelligible with the other dialects, as the other dialects are actually different languages.[1] The language itself originated from Northern China and spread over time. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of all Chinese within China. When taken as a whole there are an estimated 1 billion Mandarin speakers, the most of any language in the world. When a VOCALOID is said to have a "Chinese Voicebank", it refers to having a voicebank in Mandarin. Common forms of this language is also considered the Lingua franca of China.

Mandarin Chinese has 21 consonants and 16 vowels. They can be combined together to create over 400 mono-syllabic sounds.[2] As a tonal language, Mandarin Chinese also have 4 main tones and a neutral tone that changes the meaning of a word depending on the tone. However, tones are usually ignored when composing lyrics.

Due to how widespread the language is, it has influenced a number of languages around the area of China, having an influence on both Korean Phonetics and Japanese Phonetics.

Notes on Accents[]

Despite the general belief that singers completely lose their accents when they sing, this is not the case in every instance and an accent is possible to be heard even in singing vocals.

However, the reason many are led to believe this is that there are several methods of training singers to disguise or otherwise hide their natural accents - they may even adopt an accent that isn't their own for singing. Samples include genres such as western or country, black music such as Jazz or Soul. Singing also uses different muscles to speech, resulting in difference of air pressure and way the throat moves. Genres such as Opera are most likely to make a accent appear almost entirely absent thanks to the impact of the opera vibrato.[3][4]

VOCALOID will capture any form of accent quite easily at times. It depends on the recording method used on the voicer, type of sound being recorded per sample (accent impact varies per sample and language), and overall number of samples that make up the voicebank (the more samples, the more chance of it slipping in).

Mandarin is noted for having hundreds of variations on the language within different localized areas. This is contributed to the large number of speakers and the widespread nature of the Chinese language and circumstances behind the area.

Mainland Accents[]

The phonology of Standard Chinese, the official language of China, is modeled on Beijing Mandarin. This is the version of Mandarin that VOCALOID also uses.

Taiwanese Accent[]

Standard Chinese is also spoken in Taiwan. The phonology is slightly different; many Taiwanese usually pronounce retroflex (zh, ch, sh) consonants as alveolar consonants (z, c, s) due to influence from Hokkien. When they do pronounce retroflex syllables (e.g. in formal situations), they pronounce them softer than in Mandarin based on the Beijing standard.

A Taiwanese speaker is not always understood by speakers from Mainland China due to differences in the accents, including different words being mistaken for each other.

Japanese Accent[]

Japanese-Mandarin accented VOCALOIDs are produced by those who came from Japan. Their voice providers have the Japanese language as their native language, but were used to produce Mandarin-Chinese voicebanks. Therefore the Japanese-Mandarin accent is a non-native Mandarin accent, showing significant and notorious differences in comparison to the native Mandarin accents.

Phonetic chart[]

Symbol Classification IPA Symbol / Name Pinyin Notes
a Final ä ba
o Final ɔ / u̯ɔ po
7 Final ɤ~ɯ̯ɤ ke
i Final i ji, yi
u Final u fu, wu
y Final y ju, qu, xu, nü, lü, yu
@` Final ɑɻ~ɚ er
i\ Final ɨ zi, ci, si
i` Final ɨ˞ zhi, chi, shi, ri
aI Final aɪ̯ sai
ei Final eɪ̯ fei
AU Final ɑʊ̯ hao
@U Final ɤʊ̯ hou
ia Final i̯ä xia, ya
iE_r Final i̯e̞ jie, ye
ua Final u̯ä kua, wa
uo Final u̯ɔ huo , wo
yE_r Final y̯e̞ jue, que, xue, nüe, lüe, yue
iAU Final i̯ɑʊ̯ xiao, yao
i@U Final i̯ɤʊ̯~i̯oʊ̯ jiu, you
uaI Final u̯aɪ̯ kuai, wai
uei Final u̯eɪ̯ gui, wei
a_n Final an fan
@_n Final ən fen
i_n Final in xin, yin
iE_n Final i̯ɛn qian, yan
ua_n Final u̯an duan, wan
u@_n Final u̯ən dun, wen
y_n Final yn xun, yun
y{_n Final y̯ɛn~yan xuan, yuan
AN Final ɑŋ pang
@N Final əŋ~ɤŋ beng
iN Final xing, ying
iAN Final i̯ɑŋ xiang, yang
uAN Final u̯ɑŋ chuang, wang
u@N Final u̯əŋ~uɤŋ weng
UN Final ʊŋ dong
iUN Final i̯ʊŋ xiong, yong
p Initial p bo
p_h Initial po
m Initial m mo
f Initial f fo
t Initial t de
t_h Initial te
n Initial n ne
l Initial l le
k Initial k ge
k_h Initial ke
x Initial x~ he
ts\ Initial t͡ɕ ji
ts\_h Initial t͡ɕʰ qi
s\ Initial ɕ xi
ts` Initial ʈ͡ʂ zhi
ts`_h Initial ʈ͡ʂʰ chi
s` Initial ʂ shi
z` Initial ɻ~ʐ ri
ts Initial t͡s zi
ts_h Initial t͡sʰ ci
s Initial s si

Continued development[]

As of 2018, Chinese is considered the second most popular language and has the third largest voicebank selection on offer.

However, there is still much unknown about these voicebanks at this time.

Chinese VOCALOIDs were held back in VOCALOID3 at a point by the events of the VOCALOID CHINA and Ren Li incident, which caused a overall delay in the release of the Shanghai HENIAN Information Technology Co. Ltd. vocals that impacted the VOCALOID CHINA cast.

With the events resolved and developments resumed, for VOCALOID4 the number of released vocals was seven in total (Xingchen, Yuezheng Longya, Xin Hua, Hatsune Miku, Luo Tianyi, Zhiyu Moke, and Mo Qingxian, some of which receiving more then 1 voicebank) which was a vast increase over VOCALOID3. Even with Hatsune Miku V4 Chinese removed from the equation, the number of native Chinese voicebanks still was greater than native English voicebanks in that era (CYBER DIVA, RUBY, DEX, DAINA, and CYBER SONGMAN). While the number of total English voicebanks, including non-natives, was greater than the total of Chinese voicebanks and was by far nowhere near the number of Japanese releases, this was still a significant increase from VOCALOID3. However, later voicebanks were not necessarily equal in popularity in VOCALOID4 to the earlier releases.

Beijing Photek S&T Development Co., Ltd., the creator of Xingchen, have begun to develop Chinese voicebanks on another synthesizer, Synthesizer V, and it is unknown if this is a permanent departure from VOCALOID.