Monday, April 29, 2013

The Very Basic Guide to Mandarin Chinese

This is a very basic guide to Mandarin Chinese. You might have read my very basic guide to Russian or Japanese; if not, please look for the reference / link at the end of this blogpost.
I've studied Chinese in Germany and in Taiwan (台大和师大国语中心).

Learning how to write takes some time and effort and would be worth it, but if you intend to go on a business trip for a couple of days or go on a short sightseeing trip, more than a few words would be too much.
If you aren’t aware of the fact, here it comes: Chinese is a tonal language. The 1st tone is high and even, the 2nd tone is rising, the 3rd tone is falling and then rising again, while the 4th tone is sharp falling. On the very basic level you will probably be understood, even if you don’t get the tones right. Most Chinese will in fact congratulate you on trying to speak their language.

I’ll mark the tones as follows:
1st [-], 2nd [´], 3rd [`´] and 4th [`], sometimes a tone isn’t pronounced, so there might be one syllable without a tone. And sometimes tones change.

Yes – OK let’s start with a problem, yes always comes out of a context, but most of the times you would be right with shi` (是), literally it is, you can also say dui`(对), which mean true, if it concerns having, you can say you`´ (有), meaning have and being pronounced like in the yo-yo in rap songs.
No – no is corresponding, most of the times you would be right with bu´ shi` (不是), literally it isn’t, you can also say bu´ dui`(不对), which mean no true, if it concerns not having, you can say … OK here is a another trap mei´ you`´ (没有), meaning don’t have.

Please don’t stop here, even if it looks less simple than Hindi or Arabic or Russian.

Thanks – xie` xie` (谢谢) the x stands for a hissing palatal
Please – qing`´ (请) we’re at the forth word and there’s another hurdle, q has nothing to do with an English q (and nothing at all with Q from MI6), it is pronounced more like the ch in cheap.
Excuse me – ma´fan ni`´ (麻烦你)
I am (very) sorry – wo´ hen`´ bao`qian` (我很抱歉)
Good morning – zao`´ (早)
Hello – ni´ hao`´ (你好)
Good night – wan`´ an- (晚安)
Goodbye – zai` jian` (再见)
Wonderful – hao`´ ji´le (好极了)
How much is it? – duo- shao`´ qian´ (多少钱)
Please write it down- qing´ xie`´ xia`lai´ (请写下来)
I don’t understand – wo´ bu`dong`´ (我不懂)
Where are the toilets? – ce´ suo`´ zai`na`´li? (厕所在哪里?)
What is your name? – qing´ wen` gui` xing` da`ming´? (晴问贵姓大名?)
I am LMK – wo´ de ming´ zi` shi` LMK (我的名字时LMK)

PS. Mistakes are my mistakes!

The Very Basic Guide to Russian  

The Very Basic Guide to Japanese

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