5th tone, annoying as **** when studying!

So I am currently doing the advanced HSK list and there is one thing that annoys the crap out of me and that is the “5th tone” or the “light” tone 轻声, whatever its called in English.

The thing is that even Chinese people dont know when to use the 轻声. I live in China and most people here hardly ever use it. A lot of dictionaries don’t even have the “correct” light tones. I mean, who knows if 生活 is sheng1huo2 or shenghuo5, if 养活 is yang3huo2 or yang3huo5, if 意识 is yi4shi2 or yi4shi5, if 高兴 is gao1xing4 or gao1xing5, if 月饼 is yue4bing3 or yue4bing5.

You can be damn sure that 99% of the Chinese population have no clue, at least none of the probably hundreds of people I’ve asked during my 10 years in China had no idea. I even asked a professor in Chinese who tried to explain when the light tone is used, but then managed to pronounce 3 or 4 of the words wrong himself.

The thing is that when using skritter to study tones, you will end up getting half of them wrong because of the “light tone”. Is there any way to turn the “light tone” off and just use the tone that would be there if mandarin was not such a annoying langue, i.e. so that for 养活, yang3huo2 would also be a correct answer (the correct one is yang3huo5)?



Yeah, I’ve also heard Chinese use a neutral tone where Skritter teaches a fourth tone… but I figure there’s a benefit to knowing both ways.

I think this is a minor problem. As I have a Taiwan affiliation, I tend to regard e.g. yang3huo2 more standard than yang3huo5, against the Putonghua standard of textbooks and dictionaries. However, it is no big irritation to manually correct any mistakes in this area as correct and thus ignore the issue.