However, this is only partially correct. 鱼 (魚) Pinyin: yú Definition: fish . Romanization is the process of transcribing a language into the Latin script. The definite and indefinite articles don't exist in the way we know it in English. In addition to Mandarin, most Taiwanese also speak Minnan, Hakka, or an Austronesian language.  Chinese translation: 我愛你 [我爱你] (wǒ ài nǐ). ), This one goes without saying in just about any language, as you can imagine , Chinese translation: 你是哪國人? In modern spoken Mandarin, however, tremendous ambiguity would result if all of these words could be used as-is; Yuen Ren Chao's modern poem Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den exploits this, consisting of 92 characters all pronounced shi. Unlike in other languages, there is no Chinese alphabet.  As Campbell (2008) explains, linguists often ignore mutual intelligibility when varieties share intelligibility with a central variety (i.e. Like #15, if you don’t want to memorize the entire string of words in Chinese, you can simply remember one word: Cèsuǒ.? Search our example sentence database using English or Chinese words. The earliest Chinese written language was the pictographic characters that belong to the so-called Oracle-Bone script. Classical Chinese literature began in the Spring and Autumn period. Perhaps you love dogs, or own a Shih Tzu puppy. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life. (nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma?). The Simplified Chinese character system, introduced by the People's Republic of China in 1954 to promote mass literacy, simplifies most complex traditional glyphs to fewer strokes, many to common cursive shorthand variants. If you’re an eager learner who’s willing to ask questions, this will be the best way to get indirect Chinese lessons with a native speaker. The bulk of these words were originally coined in the Shanghai dialect during the early 20th century and were later loaned into Mandarin, hence their pronunciations in Mandarin may be quite off from the English. 这是什么? The script by which the Chinese language is written is an ideographic script embedded into clouds of mystery. For example, 沙发/沙發 "sofa" and 马达/馬達 "motor" in Shanghainese sound more like their English counterparts. A rather small number of direct transliterations have survived as common words, including 沙发/沙發 shāfā "sofa", 马达/馬達 mǎdá "motor", 幽默 yōumò "humor", 逻辑/邏輯 luóji/luójí "logic", 时髦/時髦 shímáo "smart, fashionable", and 歇斯底里 xiēsīdǐlǐ "hysterics". Always a useful Mandarin phrase to know if someone is talking too fast.  Several derivational affixes have also been identified, but the language lacks inflection, and indicated grammatical relationships using word order and grammatical particles. Pinyin is almost universally employed now for teaching standard spoken Chinese in schools and universities across America, Australia and Europe. Currently, most classifications posit 7 to 13 main regional groups based on phonetic developments from Middle Chinese, of which the most spoken by far is Mandarin (with about 800 million speakers, or 66%), followed by Min (75 million, e.g. Chinese words with these pronunciations were also extensively imported into the Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese languages, and today comprise over half of their vocabularies. The vast majority of Chinese immigrants to North America spoke the Taishan dialect, from a small coastal area southwest of Guangzhou. The number of sounds in the different spoken dialects varies, but in general there has been a tendency to a reduction in sounds from Middle Chinese.  These branches are unintelligible to each other, and many of their subgroups are unintelligible with the other varieties within the same branch (e.g. Today the most common romanization standard for Standard Chinese is Hanyu Pinyin, often known simply as pinyin, introduced in 1956 by the People's Republic of China, and later adopted by Singapore and Taiwan. The Four Commanderies were established in northern Korea in the first century BCE, but disintegrated in the following centuries. Although zhuyin characters are reminiscent of katakana script, there is no source to substantiate the claim that Katakana was the basis for the zhuyin system. "stone cave"), shíyīng 石英 "quartz" (lit. Chinese translation: 叫警察!  This simplification presents syllables as homophones which really are none, and therefore exaggerates the number of homophones almost by a factor of four. "internet logbook") for blog in Hong Kong and Macau Cantonese. Depending on the time of the day, you may want to use this instead of the more commonly used ‘Ni-hao.’ Who knows, you may even surprise someone with your skills. Other notable grammatical features common to all the spoken varieties of Chinese include the use of serial verb construction, pronoun dropping and the related subject dropping. , Because of the difficulties involved in determining the difference between language and dialect, other terms have been proposed. Various other written styles are also used in Chinese calligraphy, including seal script, cursive script and clerical script. Yue (Cantonese), for example, has nine tones. The tones are exemplified by the following five Chinese words: Standard Cantonese, in contrast, has six tones in open syllables and three tones in syllables ending with stops:. The Chinese orthography centers on Chinese characters, which are written within imaginary square blocks, traditionally arranged in vertical columns, read from top to bottom down a column, and right to left across columns, despite alternative arrangement with rows of characters from left to right within a row and from top to bottom across rows having become more popular since the 20th century (like English and other Western writing system).  Scholars from different lands could communicate, albeit only in writing, using Literary Chinese. Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. Some words were borrowed from Buddhist scriptures, including 佛 Fó "Buddha" and 菩萨/菩薩 Púsà "bodhisattva." Written Chinese. In today’s post, we’ll share with you the most basic Chinese words and phrases you should know as a beginner.  Although many of the finer details remain unclear, most scholars agree that Old Chinese differs from Middle Chinese in lacking retroflex and palatal obstruents but having initial consonant clusters of some sort, and in having voiceless nasals and liquids. Chinese (simplified Chinese: 汉语; traditional Chinese: 漢語; pinyin: Hànyǔ[b] or especially for written Chinese: 中文; Zhōngwén)[c] is a group of language varieties that form the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, spoken by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in Greater China. When starting out with a new language, it’s important to get all the great (and free!) Cantonese differs from Mandarin with some transliterations, such as 梳化 so1 faa3*2 "sofa" and 摩打 mo1 daa2 "motor". School-children typically learn around 2,000 characters whereas scholars may memorize up to 10,000. Newbie.  John DeFrancis argues that it is inappropriate to refer to Mandarin, Wu and so on as "dialects" because the mutual unintelligibility between them is too great. Similarly, the number of a noun only needs to indicated once in most cases. When most members of a speech community value stability, then their language will change more slowly. With the growing importance and influence of China's economy globally, Mandarin instruction is gaining popularity in schools in the United States, and has become an increasingly popular subject of study amongst the young in the Western world, as in the UK. "lettered words") spelled with letters from the English alphabet. These include vernacular, lect, regionalect, topolect, and variety.. You’ll most likely be using this while shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye.  Linguists have identified these sounds by comparing the categories with pronunciations in modern varieties of Chinese, borrowed Chinese words in Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean, and transcription evidence. For other languages spoken in China, see, "Han language" redirects here. Sound change over time has steadily reduced the number of possible syllables. These coinages, written in shared Chinese characters, have then been borrowed freely between languages. This may be one of the most useful Chinese phrases of all. Examples of loan words in English include "tea", from Hokkien (Min Nan) tê (茶), "dim sum", from Cantonese dim2 sam1 (點心) and "kumquat", from Cantonese gam1gwat1 (金橘). The first step to learning how to speak Mandarin is grasping the basic Chinese words and phrases. Reflections on Some Key Sino-English Linguistic terms". Standard Chinese, often called Mandarin, is the official standard language of China and Taiwan, and one of the four official languages of Singapore (where it is called "Huáyŭ" 华语 or simply Chinese). For example, in Japan, Sino-Japanese words account for about 35% of the words in entertainment magazines, over half the words in newspapers, and 60% of the words in science magazines.. From French came 芭蕾 bālěi "ballet" and 香槟/香檳 xiāngbīn, "champagne"; from Italian, 咖啡 kāfēi "caffè". If you’re looking to take your Chinese speaking skills to the next level, then knowing the basic words will be essential. Great for when you’re shopping or at the market. Spoken Chinese is a tonal language. First, you’ll be learning about Mandarin Chinese, the “standard” dialect. Chinese translation: 你會說英語嗎? (jiào jǐngchá!). Chinese translation: 請問 [请问] qǐngwén – to attract attention (“may I ask”).  A few dialects of north China may have as few as three tones, while some dialects in south China have up to 6 or 12 tones, depending on how one counts. There are currently two systems for Chinese characters. Most people will give you the same response anyways. Just having this date in your calendar will win you some major points. Most Chinese users in the modern era are capable of, although not necessarily comfortable with, reading (but not writing) the alternative system, through experience and guesswork.. After the 15th century, the efforts of Jesuits and Western court missionaries resulted in some Latin character transcription/writing systems, based on various variants of Chinese languages. Thus the character 一 ("one") is uttered yī in Standard Chinese, yat1 in Cantonese and it in Hokkien (form of Min). In Hunan, women in certain areas write their local Chinese language variant in Nü Shu, a syllabary derived from Chinese characters. "electric speech"), built out of native Chinese morphemes, became prevalent (電話 is in fact from the Japanese 電話 denwa; see below for more Japanese loans). https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chinese_language&oldid=990813340, Articles containing Chinese-language text, Articles with Chinese-language sources (zh), Short description is different from Wikidata, All articles with links needing disambiguation, Articles with links needing disambiguation from August 2020, Pages using collapsible list with both background and text-align in titlestyle, ISO language articles citing sources other than Ethnologue, Articles containing simplified Chinese-language text, Articles containing traditional Chinese-language text, Articles lacking reliable references from June 2015, Pages using multiple image with auto scaled images, Articles containing Japanese-language text, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, National Commission on Language and Script Work (Mainland China), Former Nationalist Chinese leader (better known to English speakers as, This page was last edited on 26 November 2020, at 17:17. That’s it for our introduction to the basic Chinese words and phrases for you. Download. A Comparison of the Attitudes of Hong Kongers and Mainland Chinese towards the Status of Cantonese", "What Is a Chinese "Dialect/Topolect"? Especially if you plan to visit Asia soon or looking to build a relationship with a Chinese-speaker. More of these examples crop up as you get further into the language. FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos. Any Latin or Greek etymologies are dropped and converted into the corresponding Chinese characters (for example, anti- typically becomes "反", literally opposite), making them more comprehensible for Chinese but introducing more difficulties in understanding foreign texts.  The resulting system is very complex, with a large number of consonants and vowels, but they are probably not all distinguished in any single dialect. The total number of syllables in some varieties is therefore only about a thousand, including tonal variation, which is only about an eighth as many as English.[e]. Learn more in the Cambridge English-Chinese simplified Dictionary. Today Japanese is written with a composite script using both Chinese characters (Kanji) and kana. The spoken varieties of Chinese are usually considered by native speakers to be variants of a single language. Most written Chinese documents in the modern time, especially the more formal ones, are created using the grammar and syntax of the Standard Mandarin Chinese variants, regardless of dialectical background of the author or targeted audience. Chinese is first known to have been written in Latin characters by Western Christian missionaries in the 16th century. … 在哪里.  In other words, Chinese has very few grammatical inflections—it possesses no tenses, no voices, no numbers (singular, plural; though there are plural markers, for example for personal pronouns), and only a few articles (i.e., equivalents to "the, a, an" in English).[f]. Go to Lesson: 他 不 喜欢 吃 鱼 。 tā bù xǐhuan chī yú。 He doesn't like to eat fish. Download. Words borrowed from the peoples along the Silk Road, such as 葡萄 "grape," generally have Persian etymologies.  These works define phonological categories, but with little hint of what sounds they represent. Chinese translation: 麻煩你講慢一點 (máfan nĭ jiǎng màn yīdiǎn). These represent the “tone” of each syllable. This is a very difficult question to answer, and any answer is subjective. For example, in addition to Standard Chinese, a resident of Shanghai might speak Shanghainese; and, if he or she grew up elsewhere, then he or she is also likely to be fluent in the particular dialect of that local area. You’ll be sure to win someone over if you can use this Mandarin phrase strategically. Modern neologisms are primarily translated into Chinese in one of three ways: free translation (calque, or by meaning), phonetic translation (by sound), or a combination of the two. The relationship between spoken and written Chinese is rather complex ("diglossia"). (ˇ) 你 (nǐ). Standard Chinese, based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin, was adopted in the 1930s and is now an official language of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan, one of the four official languages of Singapore, and one of the six official languages of the United Nations. This is an important distinction, as people from China take the Chinese New Year more seriously than the traditional New Year. After much dispute between proponents of northern and southern dialects and an abortive attempt at an artificial pronunciation, the National Language Unification Commission finally settled on the Beijing dialect in 1932. Southern Min), Wu (74 million, e.g. The Chinese language is the group of languages used by Chinese people in China and elsewhere. Difficulties have included the great diversity of the languages, the lack of inflection in many of them, and the effects of language contact.  However, vocabularies from different Chinese-speaking area have diverged, and the divergence can be observed in written Chinese. Other similar expressions include: Jerry Norman estimated that there are hundreds of mutually unintelligible varieties of Chinese. Most Chinese people consider the spoken varieties as one single language because speakers share a common culture and history, as well as a shared national identity and a common written form. The phonological structure of each syllable consists of a nucleus that has a vowel (which can be a monophthong, diphthong, or even a triphthong in certain varieties), preceded by an onset (a single consonant, or consonant+glide; zero onset is also possible), and followed (optionally) by a coda consonant; a syllable also carries a tone. Chinese is often described as a "monosyllabic" language. Chinese morphology is strictly bound to a set number of syllables with a fairly rigid construction. Hopefully, you won’t have to use this often, but it’s necessary to know in case of unknown emergencies. "stone flower"), shíyóu 石油 "petroleum" (lit. The traditional system, used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Chinese speaking communities (except Singapore and Malaysia) outside mainland China, takes its form from standardized character forms dating back to the late Han dynasty. Chinese translation: Zhè shì shénme?  Watching movies and TV shows is another excellent way to get lots of Chinese listening in. Which of the basic Chinese words or phrases above was your favorite? The 7th (2016) edition of Xiandai Hanyu Cidian, an authoritative one-volume dictionary on modern standard Chinese language as used in mainland China, has 13,000 head characters and defines 70,000 words. A language student may think, “It’s impossible to learn all these Chinese words!” But what if you were told that there are quite a few Chinese words used in English that you already know? The Mandarin Chinese mini- stories at LingQ are an example of the kind of point of view stories, with a great deal of repetition of high frequency verbs, that are available today. China is a hugely important economic hub, and now you know a little more about the language that’s … Most modern varieties of Chinese have the tendency to form new words through disyllabic, trisyllabic and tetra-character compounds. The Mandarin dialects in particular have experienced a dramatic decrease in sounds and so have far more multisyllabic words than most other spoken varieties. The Chinese language is the oldest written language in the world with at least six thousand years of history.  Because of their colonial and linguistic history, the language used in education, the media, formal speech, and everyday life in Hong Kong and Macau is the local Cantonese, although the standard language, Mandarin, has become very influential and is being taught in schools. Without it, you will not be able to say words properly even if you know how to write those words. Anybody can ask a question Anybody can answer The best answers are voted up and rise to the top Chinese Language . The difference in tonal systems is another reason why the different forms of Chinese are mutually unintelligible and are considered by many as separate languages. This replaced the old writing language standard of Literary Chinese before 20th century. (tser-swor) 厕所. , Historically, the Chinese language has spread to its neighbors through a variety of means. , Proportions of first-language speakers, Local varieties of Chinese are conventionally classified into seven dialect groups, largely on the basis of the different evolution of Middle Chinese voiced initials:, The classification of Li Rong, which is used in the Language Atlas of China (1987), distinguishes three further groups:, Some varieties remain unclassified, including Danzhou dialect (spoken in Danzhou, on Hainan Island), Waxianghua (spoken in western Hunan) and Shaozhou Tuhua (spoken in northern Guangdong).. The Dungan language, considered by many a dialect of Mandarin, is nowadays written in Cyrillic, and was previously written in the Arabic script. "stone-head"); shíjiān 时间/時間 (lit. "stone cream"), shíhuī 石灰 "lime" (lit. Although the grammars of the spoken varieties share many traits, they do possess differences. (nǐ yào bú yào gēn wǒ tiàowǔ).  The national language is now used in education, the media, and formal situations in both Mainland China and Taiwan. For example, consider Beijing: The relationship between them is so close, they feel comfortable being free with their language and making fun. When a particular pronunciation or word or grammatical form or turn of phrase is regarded as more desirable, or marks its users as more important or powerful, then it will be …  Although the relationship was first proposed in the early 19th century and is now broadly accepted, reconstruction of Sino-Tibetan is much less developed than that of families such as Indo-European or Austroasiatic. Chinese exists in a number of varieties that are popularly called dialects but that are usually classified as separate languages by scholars. Perhaps you live in an area that is s Feel free to save this so you can go over it once more when you have the time. Cantonese). "electric vision") for television, 电脑/電腦 diànnǎo (lit. As the language evolved over this period, the various local varieties became mutually unintelligible. "actual-connection"); rènshi 认识/認識 (lit. The 18th-century Kangxi Dictionary recognized 214 radicals. "recognize-know"); shítou 石头/石頭 (lit. In Mandarin Chinese, this involves the use of particles like le 了 (perfective), hái 还/還 ("still"), yǐjīng 已经/已經 ("already"), and so on. As a result of former French colonization, Vietnamese switched to a a Latin-based alphabet. Chinese parents also use Pinyin to teach their children the sounds and tones of new words. The Chinese you are learning here is the official language of China, which is also called Mandarin Chinese. Because most Chinese words are made up of two or more characters, there are many more Chinese words than characters.  Chinese translation: 快點好啦 [快点好啦] (kuài diǎn hào la). Since the 20th century, another source of words has been Japanese using existing kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese). As a result of this loaning, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese share a corpus of linguistic terms describing modern terminology, paralleling the similar corpus of terms built from Greco-Latin and shared among European languages.  Generally, mountainous South China exhibits more linguistic diversity than the North China Plain. This has appeared in magazines, newspapers, on web sites, and on TV: 三G手机/三G手機 "3rd generation cell phones" (三 sān "three" + G "generation" + 手机/手機 shǒujī "mobile phones"), IT界 "IT circles" (IT "information technology" + 界 jiè "industry"), HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì, 汉语水平考试/漢語水平考試), GB (Guóbiāo, 国标/國標), CIF价/CIF價 (CIF "Cost, Insurance, Freight" + 价/價 jià "price"), e家庭 "e-home" (e "electronic" + 家庭 jiātíng "home"), Chinese: W时代/Chinese: W時代 "wireless era" (W "wireless" + 时代/時代 shídài "era"), TV族 "TV watchers" (TV "television" + 族 zú "social group; clan"), 后РС时代/後PC時代 "post-PC era" (后/後 hòu "after/post-" + PC "personal computer" + 时代/時代), and so on. The 1999 revised Cihai, a multi-volume encyclopedic dictionary reference work, gives 122,836 vocabulary entry definitions under 19,485 Chinese characters, including proper names, phrases and common zoological, geographical, sociological, scientific and technical terms. Initials and finals, of course, combine to create the basic sounds of Chinese. Modern characters are styled after the regular script. Hope that it was useful. Only the first one, 十 "ten", normally appears as such when spoken; the rest are normally replaced with, respectively, shíjì 实际/實際 (lit. There are about 56,000 characters, but the vast majority of these are archaic. "hand machine") for mobile phone, 蓝牙/藍牙 lányá (lit. A useful question to ask when having a conversation with someone. Japanese re-molded European concepts and inventions into wasei-kango (和製漢語, lit. Perhaps a friend that you see every two weeks to catch up over coffee, you can say: húi tóu jiàn! Welcome Chinese learning beginners! There is great power in just understanding the basic words and phrases in any language, so your time spent will be well worth it. 你好吗. Before you resort to speaking English, let the other person know that you can’t understand them in Chinese. Words of Chinese origin have entered the English language and many European languages.Most of these were loanwords from Chinese itself, a term covering those members of the Chinese branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is a complex language with many dialects and varieties. (… dzeye naa-lee?) Early Indian translators, working in Sanskrit and Pali, were the first to attempt to describe the sounds and enunciation patterns of Chinese in a foreign language. Many people in China are very career-focused, just like many western nations like the United States. Chinese is not a phonetic language and the characters do not bear any resemblance to actual pronunciation. Like anything, use this moderately since you don’t want to annoy the person you’re with. Today, it is much more common to use existing Chinese morphemes to coin new words in order to represent imported concepts, such as technical expressions and international scientific vocabulary. Chinese translation:… zài nǎlǐ? For the bold and brave that wants to initiate a more intimate relationship with someone at a bar, club, or social setting. example translate: 典型事例, 典型；范例；实例, 例子；例证, 行为, 楷模；榜样；典范, 惩罚, 警诫，警告；受罚者. Even if you know zero Chinese right now, this will be a great starting point to kick start your Mandarin journey. One example of this is that Chinese tends to only indicate things once in a sentence. When most members of a speech community value novelty, for example, their language will change more quickly. What English Words Come from Chinese? If you're trying to learn Chinese Articles you will find that there is no articles used in Chinese. Syllables based on pinyin and zhuyin can also be compared by looking at the following articles: There are also at least two systems of cyrillization for Chinese. This could refer to what city in China or another country in Asia they’re from or what nationality they are. Chinese varieties have been phonetically transcribed into many other writing systems over the centuries. Chinese women often use negative words like “笨 (bèn) stupid” or “蠢 (chǔn) stupid” when talking with people who are close to them because they know these words they can use freely. Mandarin Chinese Initials and Finals In speech, Chinese words are created using just 21 beginning sounds called initials, and 37 ending sounds called finals. As this system approximates the phonology of Mandarin Chinese into English consonants and vowels, i.e. Most Chinese words are formed out of native Chinese morphemes, including words describing imported objects and ideas. "blue tooth") for Bluetooth, and 网志/網誌 wǎngzhì (lit. Chinese languages, principal language group of eastern Asia, belonging to the Sino-Tibetan language family. It can be divided into an early period, reflected by the Qieyun rime book (601 CE), and a late period in the 10th century, reflected by rhyme tables such as the Yunjing constructed by ancient Chinese philologists as a guide to the Qieyun system.
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