Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language: The same sound can hold entirely different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it, a fundamental difference from how intonation is used in English.
For example, in Mandarin the sound “ma” (English sound equivalent) can mean “mother,” “hemp,” “horse,” or “scold” depending on the tonal inflection used. However, not all sounds carry an actual meaning in each of the four tones. Those without any meaning are referred to as "lexical gaps." This collection includes spoken examples of these lexical gaps (a total of 2,382 samples).
The Tone Perfect collection includes the full catalog of monosyllabic sounds in Mandarin Chinese (410 in total) in all four tones (410 x 4 = 1,640). Spoken by six native Mandarin speakers (three female and three male), the collection is comprised of 9,860 audio files (6 sets of 1,640).
Browse through the collection, experience the sounds, and sharpen your tonal perception!
Learn More about Tone Perfect
Watch these video overviews for an introduction to Tone Perfect.
Search the Database
You can search by speaker's gender, tone, and sound.
- To search for a particular speaker, use one of the following terms: FV1, FV2, FV3, MV1, MV2, MV3. FV1 = "Female Voice 1" and MV2 = "Male Voice 2".
- Search by sound ("ma"), tone (1-4), or the whole syllable ("ma2" or "má").