Friday, February 7, 2014

10 Interesting Things About Learning Mandarin

Chinese (primarily Mandarin) is considered by many as a tough language to learn and the belief is as true as the fear people have of learning it.  So, here are 10 interesting facts about Mandarin Chinese that should get you thinking.  

I have not listed these facts as a part of supplying you with some interesting trivia. Rather, I intend to encourage you to learn the language so many people swear by the thought of learning.

1.  Mandarin might not strike you to be as romantic as the Latin languages such as French, Spanish and Italian, but believe me, it is the most widely spoken language in the world.  With about 1 billion speakers, it sits high atop the list of the most widely spoken languages.  A specific language always plays an important role in any country to co-ordinate with each other.

2. Actually, Mandarin is pretty straight forward to learn, contrary to what most people think. While we look at words like kung-fu (gōngfu in Mandarin) and tai chi Chuan (tàijíquán in Mandarin) you will be surprised to know that the language has words taken from the English language too. If you’re up for a drink, you might want to order a kěkǒu kělè (Coca Cola), a kfēi(coffee) or a wēishìjì (whiskey).

3. Unlike in English, German or French, you do not need to memorise verb conjugation’. Meaning, you do not need to wrack your brains see-sawing between “see/saw/seen”, just a simple word “kan” will do.

4. You don’t have to be conscious of noun declensions. You do not really need to worry about singular and plural noun forms while speaking Mandarin.

5. Just about everything is simplified, the numbering system, tenses, prepositions, and there is no subject/verb agreement too.

6. The language contains a set of one lakhs of Chinese characters, but knowing two to three thousands of characters will enable you to go through the newspaper. Now three thousands of characters seems like an immense number, but it will be easier if you break them up and learn about ten characters a day and (with a good mnemonic system) you could learn everything you need in a year. And given the absence of grammar and a simplistic numbering system, the task in hand should not be as arduous.

7. Mandarin is a tonal language so what you speak and what the other person makes out of it entirely depends on the tone you use.  For example, tang’ and tang’, although similar words could convey two different meanings with changed tones. Tang’ with a high tone means soup and tang’ with a low tone means sugar. There are four basic tones and a fifth neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese. Master them and you will master the language.

8. Learning Mandarin could also help you in learning Japanese as both use similar characters with exactly the same meaning, although the grammar and pronunciations are different.

9. With China gradually gains a superpower status, learning Mandarin could only benefit you more rather than not. The rapidly developing Chinese market will provide plenty of opportunities to a Mandarin speaker with better man management. Moreover, China and Taiwan provide such exotic travel locations.

10. Speaking Mandarin always makes it easier to get around when the time comes to visit a Mandarin speaking destination.  Or even at a China Town near you! 
About the Author: Beth Nicholas is a professional writer for Lingos – the online language learning community dedicated to pairing language teachers and learners, and providing a digital forum for learners to interact with like-minded students.

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