Learn Chinese Pronunciation: the 80/20 Guide, Part 1

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Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:49 am

Learn Chinese Pronunciation: the 80/20 Guide, Part 1

Post by baolj463 »

"I want to learn Chinese but just give me the basics!"

That’s what this Chinese pronunciation guide is all about. It’s all that you need to know about the pinyin system of Chinese pronunciation to get by.

The 80% that’s important. (Spend 20% of time to learn the 80% that's important.)

To speak Mandarin, the first thing is to learn Chinese pronunciation of words using the system known as pinyin.

Pinyin is the Romanized Chinese phonetic system and is the most effective aid to learn Chinese pronunciation today. (Romanized means using English alphabets.) Pinyin was invented in the 1950’s so that anyone, especially English speaking people, could learn Chinese pronunciation easily.

Most of the letters in pinyin have the same sounds as letters of the alphabet – with only a few exceptions. It’s really a very practical system that reduces the time it takes to learn Chinese words.

Can you imagine an English speaker trying to pronounce Chinese characters without pinyin?

First, "The Four Tones" of Chinese pronunciation

Chinese is a tonal language. This means each Chinese character is a syllable with a fixed tone. A different tone is a different Chinese character and hence a different meaning. To learn Chinese, you'll have to learn Chinese characters individually.

Chinese pronunciation involves four tones, each indicated by a tone mark. The tone marks are placed over the vowels. (If the letter “i” has a tone mark over it, the dot is removed.”

First Tone: a high, level tone represented by “-“ as in mā 妈 “mother”

Second Tone: a rising, questioning tone represented by “/” as in má 麻 “to have pins and needles”

Third Tone: a drawling tone falling then rising represented by “v” as in mǎ 马 “horse”

Fourth Tone: a sharp falling tone represented by “” as in mà 骂 “to scold”

Each syllable is written as a combination of consonants and vowels, plus the tone mark. Some syllables don’t start with consonants. And the only consonants that come after vowels are are the nasal “n” or “ng”.

(From here on, I’m just going to use 1, 2 3, 4 to represent the four tones in Chinese pronunciation.)

You can see the importance of getting the tones right when you learn Chinese pronunciation to avoid misunderstandings and comic situations.

A friend of mine just learnt the Chinese words for “secretary” “mi4 shu1” and instead said “mystery book” “mi2 shu1”. I bet you've heard stories like that of people.

It will take some time to get the tones right because they’re not “natural” to English speakers. Do your best when to pick up the tones when you learn Chinese, but don’t be deterred. Eventually you’ll get it. But just so you know, you don’t have to be perfect.

I have American friends living in Shanghai who get by fine with a flat tone. Of course, breakdowns in communication arise now and then, but the Chinese people can see you’re a foreigner learning the Chinese language (i.e. their language) and they’ll try hard to make sense of what you say.

So, they’re doing all the “hard work”!

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Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:37 am

Re: Learn Chinese Pronunciation: the 80/20 Guide, Part 1

Post by ravivararo »

The Following Chinese words are similar to Tamil words

<< mā 妈 “mother”>>
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 9.tamillex
அம்மா ammā

, [T. K. M. amma.] cf. ammā. n. 1. Mother; தாய். 2. Matron, lady; எசமானி.--int. 1. An exclamation of pity or surprise; அதிசயவிரக்கக் குறிப்பு. அவா . . . வெறும்பொருள தம்மா (சீவக. 2622). 2. An exclamation of joy; ஒர் உவப்புக் குறிப்பு. அம்மாவென் றுகந்தழைக்கு மார்வச்சொல் (திவ். பெருமாள். 9, 6).--part. An expletive; ஓர் அசைச்சொல். (பாரத இராசசூ. 91.)

<< mǎ 马 “horse”>>
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 8.tamillex
மா² mā

, n. 1. Animal, beast; விலங்கு. மாவுமாக்களு மையறி வினவே (தொல். பொ. 587). 2. Horse; குதிரை. அமரகத் தாற்றறுக்குங் கல்லாமா

-- 3142 --

(குறள், 814). 3. Elephant; யானை. (அக. நி.) 4. Male of horse, hog or elephant; குதிரை, பன்றி, யானைகளின் ஆண். (சூடா.) 5. Leo of the Zodiac; சிங்கராசி. (சூடா.) 6. Bee; வண்டு. மாவுடைத் தார் (பு. வெ.. 6, 7, கொளு). 7. Swan; அன்னம். மடநடை மாயினம் (கலித். 92, 17). 8. Human being born with the shape of an animal; விலங்கு வடிவமாய்ப் பிறக்கும் மானுடம். மாவு மருளு முளப்பட வாழ்நர்க் கெண்பேரெச்சம் (புறநா. 28). 9. Mango. See மாமரம். (பிங்.) 10. Calling, call; அழைக்கை. (பிங்.) 11. Cloth; சீலை. (அக. நி.) 12. Nail; ஆணி. (அக. நி.) 13. Bearing with patience; துன்பம் பொறுக்கை. (அரு. நி.)--part. An expletive; ஓர் அசைச்சொல். விளிந்தன்று மாதவ (நற். 178).

<< mà 骂 “to scold”>>

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 3.tamillex

வசை¹ Vasai, , n. 1. Reproach, censure, blame, stigma, calumny; பழிப்பு. அடிசில் வருநர்க்கு வரையா வசையில் வாழ்க்கை (புறநா. 10). 2. See வசைகவி, 1. (தொல். பொ. 437.) 3. Fault, defect; குற்றம். வசை தீர்ந்த வென்னலம் (கலித். 26, 14). 4. Ladle; அகப்பை. (யாழ். அக.)
Last edited by ravivararo on Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Learn Chinese Pronunciation: the 80/20 Guide, Part 1

Post by ravivararo »

English Chinese Pinyin
husk 糠 kang1

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... 6.tamillex
கொங்கு koṅku , n. 1. [K. koṅgu, M. koṅṅu, Tu. koṅga.] The Tamil country comprising the districts of Coimbatore, Salem and a portion of Mysore; கோயமுத்தூர் சேலம் ஜில்லாக் களும் மைசூர்ச்சீமையின் ஒரு பகுதியுமாக அடங்கிய தமிழ்நாடு. கொங்கிளங் கோசர் (சிலப். உரைபெறு. 2). 2. Farina, pollen of flowers; பூந்தாது. கொங்கு முதிர் நறுவழை (குறிஞ்சிப். 83). 3. Fragrance, odour; வாசனை. கொங்கு விம்முபூங் கோதை மாதரார் (சீவக. 2680). 4. Honey; தேன். கொங்குகவர் . . . சேவல் (சிறுபாண். 184). 5. Toddy; கள். (பிங்.) 6. A dark kind of bottle-gourd; கருஞ் சுரை. (மலை.) 7. Husk; புறத்தோல். Loc.

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Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:58 pm

Re: Learn Chinese Pronunciation: the 80/20 Guide, Part 1

Post by droza123 »

So glad to find the English and Chinese version of Chinese poems, I think it could be a better way for us to understand the poem in a different vision. I have found this site a good way for us to learn Chinese in the best way, maybe you can check it yourself http://www.learnchinese.bj.cn
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