Useful information about Chinese language

Chinese is said to be one of the most difficult languages. But don't worry. Here is some useful information for "easy Chinese".

Lesson 1: How to pronounce those Latin words which present Chinese pronunciation?

You may already know "Ni Hao" is "Hello" in Chinese. The words in Latin letters are called Pinyin, meaning "to combine sound". Usually Pinyin is pronounced just like English. The following tricks are useful to pronounce understandable Chinese:

"X" is pronounced like "sh". "Xie Xie", pronounced like "Shieh Shieh", is "Thank you". "Q" is pronounced like "ch" in "check". "J" is pronounced like the beginning "j" in "judge". You may pronounce "Zh" just like "J", but remember they are actually not the same. "A" is always pronounced like "ah", not the "a" in "bag". "U" is usually pronounced as the "u" in "rule". "E" is always pronounced like the British sound of "er", not the "e" in "bed". "I" is usually pronounced like "ee", never the "i" in "hide".

Lesson 2: Useful words for places

You already know "Ni Hao" (你好,Hello) and "Xie Xie" (谢谢,Thanks). You may wonder what the venue hotel is pronounced. Here it is: Fu Dan Huang Guan (复旦皇冠), literally Fudan Crowne, which is short for the Crowne Plaza Shanghai Fudan. You may also add "Jiu Dian" (酒店,Hotel) and say "Fu Dan Huang Guan Jiu Dian", which help people to understand that it is a hotel. The hotel is near to "Fu Dan Da Xue" (Fudan University), which is a famous landmark in Shanghai.

Other places: Ren Min Guang Chang (人民广场,The People's Square), Yu Yuan (豫园,The Yu Garden), Wai Tan (外滩,The Bund), Dong Fang Ming Zhu (东方明珠,The Oriental Pearl Television Tower).

The names of roads and streets are also written in Pinyin.

Lesson 3: Getting familiar with the shapes of Chinese characters

Shanghai is an internationalized city. So most of the facilities are clearly marked with international standard symbols, for example, . But if you care to visit deeply into the city, you may wish to get familiar with Chinese characters, at least most frequently used ones. Here are some:

厕所(toilet),洗手间(toilet),卫生间(toilet),男(men),女(women),出口(exit),紧急(emergency),入口(entrance),禁止入内(no entry),闲人免进(no entry, staff only),水(water),饭(rice),面(noodle),饺子(dumpling, jiaozi),馄饨(dumpling, wonton),一楼(1st floor),二楼(2nd floor),三楼(3rd floor),上(up),下(down),左(left),右(right),向上(upward),向下(downward),向左(to the left),向右(to the right)

For more information about Chinese language and culture, you may visit Confucius Institute Online.

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Last updated: July 17, 2014