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Learn the Chinese Language

About the Chinese Language

The Chinese Language is one amongst the world's most spoken and popular languages. It is known to have over a billion speakers. Around the world, about 16% of the population speaks some form of Chinese as their first language. Mandarin, also known as the National language of China, is used by over 1.3 billion people; including people who use Chinese as a second language or business language.

1852_ 1. Learn the Chinese Language

Throughout China, a unified system of characters has been in use since ages. People in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan still practice the traditional Chinese characters, but the people in Mainland China use simplified Chinese characters while writing. This single writing system has become an advantage for people who speak different dialects but can understand each other s writing without any difficulty.

According to some scholars, Chinese characters are the Fifth Great Invention of Ancient China along with the other Four Great Inventions - paper, the compass, gunpowder and 'movable typography'. The Chinese culture influenced other countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam as they still use Chinese characters since ancient times, especially during the Tang (618-907) and the Song (960-1279) dynasties.

The standard Chinese writing system uses a non-alphabetic script with an alphabet for supplementary use since there is no original alphabet native to China. Unlike other languages, the Chinese language doesn t have an alphabet to be written as a series of letters, but they have a set of pictures that have meaning and sounds. The Chinese language has its 'Pinjin system', which is also referred to as logographic Chinese characters (sinograms).

There are four main types of Chinese characters:

  • Pictograph

  • Pictophonetic Characters

  • Associative Compounds

  • Self-explanatory characters

  1. Pictograph - Pictograph characters were created from pictures of real things. Example: Mouth- k u mouth.

a

 

m horse

b

m n door

c

 
  1. Pictophonetic characters - These were made from a radical and a single Chinese character which can be divided into eight types. The most common type is left radical right phonetic. The left part of the Chinese character shows the possible meaning of a particular Chinese character and from the right part on how to read this Chinese character.

Example: ma a question word.

So, here the left part is a radical, k u mouth; you need to ask questions by mouth, so the left part shows you the possible meaning, and the pronunciation of the right part m horse is similar to ma a question word. So is the meaning side plus the phonetic side .

m mother

The left side is a radical, n female shows the meaning; the right side shows the phonetic, because m horse and m mother have similar pronunciations.

The other types are right radical left phonetic, up radical down phonetic, down radical up phonetic, outside radical inside phonetic, inside radical outside phonetic, and so on.

  1. Chinese characters can be divided into two parts: Figure and Meaning.

For example, in xi rest, the left part is the radical of person, the right part means tree; it s like a man leans against the tree. In ancient times, people worked in the field, and when they felt tired, they could have a rest beside a tree. When you see this Chinese character, you can think of this figure naturally.

d n daybreak, dawn, can also show you a figure. The upper part is r the sun, and the lower part is like the horizon line; when the sun rises from the horizon line it s daybreak.

n n male, man, can be understood by the meaning. The upper part is ti n farm field, the lower part is l strength, for people who work in the field with strength are just men.

  1. Self-explanatory characters

Self-explanatory Chinese characters can be shown by a single abstract symbol, line, or a Pictograph and an abstract symbol.

For example: y one, r two, s n three, one line represents the number one, two abstract lines are just the abstract image of two things, and so is three.

sh ng on, up, the short line shows the position; it s up the long line xi down, below, the short line is below the long line.

Like xi ng deadly trap

There are six categories, but not every Chinese character can be classified into a specific category. However, knowing the principles of making Chinese characters it can help you memorise it quickly.

How to learn Chinese language

Many of you must be having this question in mind that - Is the Chinese language easy to learn? If yes, how long does it take to learn the Chinese characters? The Chinese language is said to have approximately 50,000 characters in existence where only three and four thousand are in regular use.

As you begin to learn the first 10-20 Chinese characters, you ll realise that these characters appear in many words; and some characters even have the same sound.

Below given are some of the tips to start off with your Chinese learning -

Step 1: Chinese Learning Materials

If you are serious about learning the Chinese language, apart from attending the classes, you should refer to study materials to practise at home. Study materials like books, apps on the internet will help you develop your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Most of them are available for free, and you can try them as many times as you feel like.

Step 2: Try learning Pinyin

After learning how to write the Chinese language alphabets another challenge that you might come across is the Pronunciation of these words. Names like Xi an or Qin Shihuang will be tough to pronounce in the correct tone. Hence, one way to pronounce Chinese words, and read Chinese characters is by starting to learn Pinyin .

This is the commonly used system for writing Chinese using roman letters. For example, in pinyin is w sh zh nggu r n. Each character in Chinese represents one syllable and can be spelt out phonetically in pinyin.

Step 3: Sign-up for a class

If you want to learn Chinese quickly, then the best option will be sign-up for a class. Look for the best Chinese classes available in the nearby area, or you can even apply for one-on-one lessons with a Chinese tutor online to get personalised attention.

Step 4: Practice Every Day

Take one action at a time. Start with 30 minutes of studying your Chinese lessons per day. In the initial days of your class, it is better to start it slow and gradually you can extend the number of hours to 3 or 4 in a single sitting. If the learning process is fun and engaging, you automatically get an interest in studying. And the more you study, the faster you will learn and improve! Do your best to make learning Chinese part of your daily ritual.

Step 5: Mimic Native Chinese Speakers

Make it a habit of watching Chinese movies. When learning a language, you need to mimic the way native speakers and one of the ways to do so is by watching how Chinese actors speak. Another technique to improve pronunciation and speaking practice is by playing an individual recorded sentence and then repeating it yourself again and again.

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