For example,zhngis a syllable that meansmiddleorcentral. It is used in many, many words, includingzhngxu(middle school),zhngw(noon),zhngfn(lunch),zhngnin(middle-aged),Zhngdng(Middle East), and, most importantly,Zhnggu(China).
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The other syllables in these words also help indicate meaning:xuinzhngxumeansstudy,winzhngwmeansnoon,fninzhngfnmeansmeal,nininzhngninmeansyear,dnginZhngdngmeanseast, andguinZhnggumeanscountry. As you can see, in Chinese,Chinaliterally meanscentral countryor, as its often translated,middle kingdom.
Here are some examples of how tone can affect meaning:li(to skate),li(to flow),li(willow),li(six). An example of a neutral tone isma, which is a Chinese particle that goes at the end of a sentence to indicate that it is a question, as inN ho ma? (How are you?)
Mandarin Chinese is spoken as a native language by about 900 million people. Its the most widely spoken language in the world, the official language of mainland China and Taiwan, and one of the official languages of Singapore. The other major Chinese dialect, Cantonese, is spoken in Hong Kong, Macau, the Guangdong (Canton) province and Guangxi autonomous region in China, and by many Chinese living outside of China. However, we will only cover Mandarin Chinese here.
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There are also no plural forms in Chinese. In other words,
) and a noun. There are different measure words for different nouns. Lets look at the phrase
Chinese words are made up of one or more syllables (a syllable is equal to one character in Chinese writing). When dealing with a word that contains more than one syllable, its important to realize that each syllable in that word also has its own, independent meaning or use. Once you start to learn the meaning of some common syllables, then you can often deconstruct the meaning of the full word.
Hunyng!Welcome to the Fodors Chinese Language Page, brought to you by the language experts atLiving Language. Here youll find over 150 essential phrases for your trip.
Using the vowelaas an example, the first tone,, is high and neutral. The second tone,, goes from middle to high, as if you were asking a question. The third tone,, goes from middle to low to high, as if stretching out a question. Finally, the fourth tonegoes from high to low, as if you were answering a question. There is also a neutral tone,a, which is unmarked and, of course, neutral in tone.
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Although pronunciation, vocabulary and, not surprisingly, reading and writing can be a challenge for many students of Chinese, Chinese grammar is actually relatively straightforward.
etc.) or on when the action is taking place (past, present, future, etc.). So, for example, the Chinese verb
Although this may seem difficult, pronunciation and recognition of the tones will eventually come naturally with what else? time and practice.
The Chinese phrases seen here are all written inpnyn, the standard romanization alphabet (transliteration) for Mandarin Chinese used in mainland China.
can actually mean any of the following:
For more Chinese language and cultural tips, visit theLiving Language Chinese Blog.
To get started in Chinese, try one of these courses:
Unlike many other languages, such as French and German, there is no gender in Chinese.
There are no conjugated verb forms in Chinese, which means that Chinese verbs dont change form based on subject (
as an example. In Chinese, you wouldnt just say
For beginners, Chinese pronunciation can be intimidating at first. Unlike English, Chinese is a tonal language, which means that every syllable in the language is pronounced with a different tone. These tones are very important, because if you pronounce a syllable with the wrong tone, it can mean something entirely different than what you intended.
easy for you, however. For instance, it does have special words called measure words. Measure words are used to quantify a noun, and usually have to be placed between a number or demonstrative (