Basic Introduction to Chinese Language


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Basic Introduction to Chinese Language

  1. 1. Intro to Chinese Language 介绍中文 Sarah Kowalski
  2. 2. Why Chinese?• About one-fifth of the world’s population, or over one billion people, speak some form of Chinese as their native language.• Chinese has more speakers in the world than any other language.• China is known as “factory to the world” for its huge export market. Knowing Chinese and China’s culture will help anyone wanting to do international business.
  3. 3. 3 Elements to Memorizing a Chinese Word Character(s) Pronunciation Tone(s)
  4. 4. Character TypesSome Chinese characters developed frompictures.•Pictures drawn of an object (pictographs)•Or pictures drawn to represent an idea(ideographs).
  5. 5.  Shan 山 developed from a drawing of a mountain (pictograph). ZHONG 中 Represents the idea of middle/center (ideograph/ideogram). hao 好 is made from a picture of a woman and a baby. It means “good,” which comes from the idea that goodness is a mother with her son (ideographic/ideogrammic compound).
  6. 6. Semantic-Phonetic Compounds • In 100 CE, a famous scholar, Xǚ Shèn studied characters and found that only 4% were pictographs, while many were related to sound.• Examples of characters related by sound (phoenetics).• Horse: 马 mǎ​• Mother: 妈 mā​ woman 女 + 马• Yell at/scold: 骂 mà​ 2 mouths 口 + 马• Ant: 蚂 mǎ​ bug 虫 + 马• Headboard: 杩 mà​ wood 木 + 马
  7. 7. Read Chinese in One Year!?• There are over 40,000 characters in a large dictionary, but less than 10,000 are commonly used.• Well-educated Chinese recognize about 6,000-7,000 characters, but if you can learn 3,000 characters, you can read a newspaper and be considered literate.• If you learned 10 characters a day, you could theoretically read Chinese in less than 1 year!
  8. 8. Pronunciation• People who aren’t educated in China (such as yourselves), can’t read characters.• To address this problem, and to increase literacy in China as well, the P.R.C. adopted Hanyu Pinyin in 1958.• Most Americans and Europeans learn Chinese through Pinyin, and Chinese parents also use it to teach their children proper pronunciation of new words.• Chinese Sounds in English
  9. 9. Pinyin 汉语拼 音• Pinyin has three parts:• Initials (like American consonants, except no “V”)• Finals (like American vowels, can also end with “n” or “ng” or “r”)• Tones (4 main, 1 neutral)• Good Pinyin Chart
  10. 10. •This great chart to practice your pinyin pronunciation can be foundat, as well as many other free and fee-basedresources for studying Chinese.
  11. 11. Have you mastered English Spelling? Chinese will be a breeze! Pinyin has only about 400 different sounds. English has over 4,000. English spells the same sound o in at least ten different ways: so, sow, sew, oh, owe, dough, doe, beau, soak, soul. It uses the same letter o to represent at least 8 different sounds in so, to, on, honey, horse, woman, borough (DeFrancis 1984a:112).The number of different spellings for the 40 English phonemes has been variously estimated at 600 (Zachrisson 1931:4), 1,120-1,768 (Nyikos 1988; see 298 below), and 2,000 (Alisjahbana 1965:530; Daniels 1985:34). by John DeFrancis Statistics compiled by Gao and Yin show about 430 (not counting tones) spoken syllables for standard Mandarin compared to 4,030 for English (1983:70).
  12. 12. Tones Demo• Practice the four tones• n.asp
  13. 13. Conclusion• Learning Chinese may seem much more difficult than learning English, but several elements make oral Chinese, in fact, easier! (consistent spelling in the pinyin system, less sound combinations)• To learn Chinese words, you need to master three components: character, pronunciation, and tone.• Chinese characters may be composed of smaller components, called “radicals” which can represent a sound or a meaning. There are several types of characters, including but not limited to pictographs, ideographs, and semantic-phonetic compounds.• Learning Chinese can help you in future business/job prospects, can give you a better understanding of your own language and culture, and can enable you to communicate with the majority of the world’s population!