[q]1. In Mandarin all words must end in a vowel or in n or ng.[/q]
As I sit here in the Beijing airport, I do have to point out that in Northern China a very large percentage of the words end in a very pronounced “rrrr” sound.
The “ng” threw me for a minute but this would be like “neng” or “ability to do something” rather than the Cantonese “ng” sound.
I’ve never heard the living and dead words - interesting idea. Are you referring to the Chinese practice of di-syllabization (making a one syllable word into two syllables)? For example, saying “zoulu” or equivalent of “take a walk” as opposed to just “zou” or saying English equivalent of “walk”
I think it’s more accurate to say you need decent tones combined with speaking naturally and with confidence. i certainly don’t have perfect tones. Good tones certainly helps, especially in earlier stages on learning the language.
Tickler, there is a relatively common practice of naming people with two names that sound the same. Your example of ZHANG Juan-Juan is an example. When it comes to nicknames, especially for kids, the double name is extremely common. It didn’t take with my daughter, but at least half of her nursery school classmates are called “du-du”, “ling-ling”, “qing qing” and so on.