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Chinese Language


  • Kiweenie's picture

    Kiweenie Chinese Title

    Lesson 1

    Ni hao class! It's me Kiweenie Lao Shi (teacher Kiweenie). Since we've been in China I've been really interested in the Chinese language. I've even begun picking up a few words and phrases. Because you’re traveling through China with us I thought it would be important for you to learn a few words of Chinese too. Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on you because the Chinese language is very difficult!

     

    There are actually dozens of languages and dialects in China but I’ll be discussing Mandarin, the official language, which over 850 million people speak. It is very different from English. One of the major differences is that in Mandarin tones are very important.

     

    You sometimes use tones in English without thinking about it. like when you are asking a question your tone goes up on the last word. Well, mandarin has four tones and one is used in almost every single word. Changing the tone on one word changes the entire meaning. For instance, the word “ma” can mean mother or horse depending on which tone you give it. You don’t want to mix up those two words in a conversation! The four tones are: flat, rising, falling, and falling then rising.

     

    I’ll teach you a few of the words most commonly used when you travel. Becky is going to assist me with the audio portion of this. She's been studying Chinese and pronounces the words better than I do.

     

     

    Speaking Chinese

     

    First let's learn hello. Ni hao means “hello.” It’s pronounced “knee how,” and the first part is a flat tone and the last part uses a falling then rising tone.

     

     

     


    Xiexie
    means thank you. It’s pronounced "shay-shay” and uses two falling tones. I think it’s always important to be polite, especially when you are in a different country!

     
    Kiweenie stops Ramses from buying more knock-off watches
    Kiweenie: Bu Yao, Bu Yao. Ramses, no more watches for you!

     

     

     

    Another useful phrase is bu yao. This means "don't want," and you can use it when people on the street try to sell you things you don't want. It really is effective, because as soon as you say it they leave you alone!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Well, I've got to get back to sightseeing now but I'll have another lesson soon and I'll teach you how to read and write a few words of Mandarin. Zaijian. (That means goodbye!)

     

     

    Comments
    5
  • Kiweenie's picture

     

     

    Kiweenie writing Chinese Title

     

    Ni Hao class (do you remember what that means?). Kiweenie Lao Shi here again with part two of my lesson about the Chinese language. We learned how to say a few helpful phrases in our last class and I hope you've been practicing them. We've been using them a lot here in China! As you've been touring Beijing with us you've probably noticed that the spoken language is not the only part of Chinese that is very different from English.

    The Chinese writing style is extremely different as well. Instead of letters to write words they use pictures! Originally Chinese characters first developed as pictographs (pictures to represent an object) and ideographs (pictures to represent an idea).

     

    For instance, here is the Chinese character for the word face (mian) . This character was originally a pictograph of a face. It might not exactly look like a face to you, but this is how it likely evolved over thousands of years.

     

    Development of the character for face mian.

     

    Then there are ideographs like the character for the word up (shang) and the numbers 1, 2, 3, (yi, er, san) 一 二 三 . You can really see how the ideas of up and counting are expressed in these characters.

     


    Chinese has developed into a much more complicated language over the centuries and now there are lots of character combinations and characters that represent sounds and lots of complex stuff that makes my head spin, so we'll leave it at this for today.

     


    Oh, wait, but one more thing to know about written Chinese is that it is very important that the correct "stroke order" be followed when you are writing a character. To show you what I mean we've made this video of the character for face being written in the correct order. Imagine if you had to write all your letters in the same order as everyone else for it to be correct? Chinese is definitely a tricky language. Zaijian!

     

    animated version of character mian

     

    Also, here is a helpful chart of all the words you've learned in both my language lessons.

     

    chart for chinese words learned in kiweenie's class

     

    Comments
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