The difficulty of understanding Mandarin Chinese!

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senatortombstone

The difficulty of understanding Mandarin Chinese!

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-09-17, 14:39

I have just begun to listen to Pimsleur's essential chinese. German and Spanish were pretty easy to understand and repeat. French was tough but with time I will be able to master it. Mandarin on th eother hand?!?! The vocabulary that Pimsleur teaches is nearly the same in all of the course i have taken thus far. Leston one usually teaches you how to say

excuse me

do you undertand?

I do/not understand

English, the name of the language you're learning

I speak a little

Mandarin is so tough. The first time i listened to it I could repeat nothing.

here's what I have leanred thus far and I am sure that my phoeneti representations and pronounciation are totally off.

excuse me: tsoy-bu-shi

can you speak: nee kway shwah ma

I can speak: wa kway shwah

I forgot the word for mandarin and i still cannot repeat the mandarin word for English but it sounds something like this: lin-won

Much respect to speakers of Mandarin and tonal languages, may I be counted amongst them some day!

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schalke81
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Postby schalke81 » 2004-09-17, 15:18

as part of my training to be an english teacher, i had to take a lesson in mandarin, o unsderstand the ctudent perspective...and, well, i agree with you. within a few hours of the lesson i could remember only a few words and now, only "nihao" and "cha"..(but only because it sthe same in japanese)...

where are the COGNATES!!!!!
i think congnates are very helpful in language learning, but mandarin is lacking them!..hence the difficulty!

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Postby Saaropean » 2004-09-18, 8:18

I have learned Chinese for two years. Right from the start, it was a pain to learn all those characters. But since the characters are so hard to learn, I can remember the words quite well.

I did a dictation the day before yesterday—after two months without a course. The result was that I had no problem understanding the text, but I had 50 characters wrong (or not known at all) in 13 sentences...

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Postby Junesun » 2004-09-18, 15:16

Senator: I think you should definitely learn Pinyin (the official spelling of Chinese with the Latin alphabet). That will teach you all the different existing sounds in Chinese, clear the jungle and especially keep you from e. g. throwing all the "ch"-like sounds into the same drawer. Which will improve your pronunciation by leaps and bounds. Also, seeing words written in Pinyin may make it easier for you to memorise them - at least I find it incredibly difficult to memorise things just from hearing, without having the foggiest idea of how to write them. That's why I'm not too fond of the Pimsleur method for serious language-learning, but that may well depend on the type of learner you are.

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Postby Junesun » 2004-09-18, 15:22

When I was still working with Pimsleur, I took notes of their lessons and wrote down the conversation & new words in Pinyin as well as characters. Here's the first lesson for you. You can use it as an experiment whether it's easier that way for you.

(The numbers in the Pinyin denote the tones. I can't easily type the standard accents on the letters and I found that many Chinese, faced with the same problem, use the numbers: 1 = tone stays the same, 2 = rising, 3 = falling-rising, 4 = falling)

Conversation:

A: Dui4 bu4 qi3, qing3 wen4? Ni3 hui4 shuo1 ying1 wen2 ma?
A: 对不起﹐请问﹖你会说英文吗?

B: Bu2 hui4. Wo3 bu2 hui4 shuo1 ying1 wen2.
B: 不会。我不会说英文。

A: Wo3 hui4 shuo1 yi4 dianr pu3 tong1 hua4.
A: 我会说一点儿普通话。

B: Ni3 shi4 mei3 guo2 ren2 ma?
B: 你是美国人吗?

A: Shi4. Wo3 shi4 mei3 guo2 ren2.
A: 是。我是美国人。


Vocabulary:
dui4 bu4 qi3 = 对不起 = excuse me
ying1 wen2 = 英文 = English language (wen2 also means 'writing')
hui4 = 会 = can; yes I can
shuo1 = 说 = speak
ni3 = 你 = you
bu4 = 不 = not
ma = 吗 = (question particle)
qing3 wen4 = 请问 = may I ask?
bu2 hui4 = 不会 = no I can't
wo3 = 我 = I
pu3 tong1 hua4 = 普通话 = Chinese language, "the common language"
yi4 dianr = 一点儿 = a little
mei3 guo2 = 美国 = America
ren2 = 人= person
shi4 = 是 = to be; yes I am
bu2 shi4 = 不是 = no I am not

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Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2004-09-25, 11:18

Junesun wrote:mei3 guo2 = 美国 = America


mei3 guo2 美国 = USA, United States of America

mei3 zhou1 美洲 = America

Let's not forget what "America" means exactly... Only USians make that mistake, America is still a continent, even if the USA is more or less ruling all of it... :wink:
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nothing important

Postby a chinese student » 2004-09-25, 13:06

i just want to say that's good for foreigners to learn Pinyin other than chinese characters. but as a native chinese speaker i must tell you, Pinyin is not perfact because some chinese sound does not exist in your language and some spelling does not pronounce as it seems. for example "zh"(sounds like english soft g, as in the word "giant") can't be found in most euro language. then many foreigners pronounce it "zah". and the difference between "in" and "ing" is quite hard to tell. another important point is that there are too many words with the same sound in chinese. e.g. wen2: 文means writing or language while 闻means smelling or hearing. and 蚊is a kind of insect... too much.

but fortunately, the chinese grammar is easier to learn i believe. chinese doesn't have article(no need to think of das,der,die... ), chinese doesn't have plural, chinese words don't change form... it's exciting isn't it?

-------------------------
i know my english is broken. any correction is welcome. and i hope you understand me.

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Re: nothing important

Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2004-09-25, 16:09

a chinese student wrote:Pinyin is not perfact because some chinese sound does not exist in your language and some spelling does not pronounce as it seems.
[...]
for example "zh"(sounds like english soft g, as in the word "giant") can't be found in most euro language. then many foreigners pronounce it "zah".


你指的是什么语言?英语吗?你会德语,还会哪种语言?拼音跟英文没有什么关系。拼音的目标是用拉丁字母拼写汉语的声音。在全世界上,一万多语言用拉丁字母。你怎么会想到拉丁字母的用法都跟英文有关?比如说,我知道在欧洲有很多语言都有zh那个声音,写下来也是zh或者dj、j、等。

a chinese student wrote:and the difference between "in" and "ing" is quite hard to tell.


你分不清楚吗?分那两个声音都很难。我在这个方面还行,但有的更困难……例如圈舍音,等等。

a chinese student wrote:another important point is that there are too many words with the same sound in chinese. e.g. wen2: 文means writing or language while 闻means smelling or hearing. and 蚊is a kind of insect... too much.


我同意。但是要看情况……我们是不是都分得清楚哦。
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a chinese student

Postby a chinese student » 2004-09-26, 13:37

嘿, 我写这些只是想说拼音也是有难度的, 也需要一定的学习时间, 而不像国际音标那样好用。

顺便问一下,junming你是哪里人?

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Postby Intrigued Linguist » 2004-09-26, 14:42

I think Mandarin Chinese is a lot easier than most people think. Granted, the writing system is tedious and takes a long time to master, it's not so difficult, just more difficult than most alphabets and syllibaries. The word order can be a little tricky compared to most Western European languages, but it's rather uniform, so even tho it's different, it doesn't vary much. The grammars real simple, altho the measure words take time to get used to, and the tones are difficult in the beginning, but get easy after time, for example, I've only been studying Mandarin for about a week and a half, but I'm already looking at non-toned pinyin differently, actually trying to say it with tones, even if I don't know what they are. Those are my thoughts on it.


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