Basic Chinese 中文 History of Chinese language Old Chinese was the language used during the early and middle Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC–256 BC) and its texts include the inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells. The earliest form of written Chinese was carved on bones Character vs. pictures • Chinese is written in characters rather than letters. Many of the characters were originally pictures of many things. But over the centuries, characters have changed a lot and they no longer look like the things they represent. • Can you guess the meaning of the character used today from their original picture above them? fish snake Number of Characters Here is a written sentence in Chinese meaning “I would like to visit Beijing Olympic Stadium.” 我想去参观北京奥林匹克体育馆。 Can you count how many characters this sentence has? 14 characters! Characters vs. Words In Chinese, one word can be • one character: 我 I • two characters:参观 to visit • three characters: 体育馆 stadium • four characters: 奥林匹克 Olympic 我想去参观北京奥林匹克体育馆。 (I would like to visit Beijing Olympic Stadium) Pinyin To write down the sound of the Chinese characters in Roman letter, we use Pinyin, spelling of a word. Pinyin helps learner to remember the sound of the character. Most letters in Pinyin sound the same as in English but many are different. Chinese character Pinyin with tones English 你好 nǐ hǎo hello 中国 zhōng guó China Click and listen Tones The same spelling of pinyin can sound different (and mean different things) according to the tones used. There are four main tones. The tones are marked on top of the vowels. Here is an example with “ma”. Pinyin with tones tones characters English mā 1st tone, high and flat 妈 mum má 2nd tone, going up 麻 numb mǎ 3rd tone, down and up 马 horse mà 4th tone, going down 骂 to scold Now click and listen to sound “ma” in four different tones A Taste of Mandarin Chinese You will learn words, phrases and sentences. You will be seeing the characters and hearing the sound of them. There will be 5 topics: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Words/phrases used on a daily basis Numbers Self introduction Chinese currency Useful adjectives words/phrases used on a daily basis • 你好 nǐ hǎo hello • 你们好 nǐ men hǎo hello (to more than one person) • -谢谢 xiè xie thank you -不客气 bú kè qì you are welcome • -对不起 duì bu qǐ sorry/excuse me -没关系méi guān xi it’s ok • 再见 zài jiàn good-bye Now click and listen to the words and phrases Test on words used on daily basis How to say the following in Chinese? 1) Hello [to more than one person] 2) Thank you 3) Good-bye Click to listen to the answers. Numbers • 1一yī 2二èr 3三sān 4四sì 5五wǔ 6六liù 7七qī 8八bā 9九jiǔ 10十shí • 11 十一 shí yī 12 十二shí èr • 20 二十 shí èr 21 二十一shí èr yī • 30 三十 sān shí 35 三十五sān shí wǔ • 100 一百 yī bǎi Chinese numbers are very logical. Can you now work out all the numbers before 99? Now click and listen to numbers from 1 to 10. Test on on numbers 1. Click to Listen and say the numbers in English (1-4) Answers: 1) 2 2) 5 3) 10 4) 13 2. How to say the following numbers in Chinese? 1) 3 2) 6 3) 8 4) 15 Click and listen to the answers Chinese currency The units for the Chinese money (RMB)are • 元 yuán or 块 kuài • 角 jiǎo or 毛 máo • 分 fēn (not very often used nowadays) (1 yuán/kuài = 10 jiǎo/ máo = 100 fēn) now click and listen to the units of Chinese money Test on Chinese currency 1. Guess the prices in Chinese currency of the following items in China. ￥3.00 (3 yuan/kuai ) ￥70.00 (70 yuan/kuai) ￥18.00 (18 yuan/kuai) 2. If the exchange rate is 1:10 British pounds to Chinese RMB, how much do the items above cost in pound? Self and family (1) • 我叫wǒ jiào… My name is… • 我十二岁wǒ shí èr suì I am 12 years old. • 我是英国人wǒ shì yīng guó rén I am British Now click and Listen Self and family (2) • 我家有四口人 wǒ jiā yǒu sì kǒu rén My family have four people. • 爸爸/妈妈/哥哥/姐姐/弟弟/妹妹 bà ba/ mā ma/ gē ge/ jiě jie/ dì di/ mèi mei dad/mum/older brother/older sister/younger brother/younger sister Now click and Listen Self and family (3) • 我喜欢… wǒ xǐ huan I like…. • 运动/足球/音乐/玩电脑/看电视/看书/ yùn dòng /zú qiú /yīn yuè/ wán diàn nǎo/ kàn diàn shì/ kàn shū sports/football/music/play with computer/watching TV/reading/ Now click and listen. Test on Chinese currency Listen to a child introducing himself. Can you find out his: • • • • • name age nationality family (how many people in his family) hobbies Answers • • • • • Name: dà wèi Age: 8 Nationality: British Family (how many people in his family): 3 Hobbies: watching TV, playing on the computer and reading Useful adjectives (1) • 好/很好/太好了 hǎo/ hěn hǎo/ tài hǎo le good/very good/ great • 好吃 hǎo chī delicious • 饿/我很饿 è / wǒ hěn è hungry/ I am very hungry • 渴/我很渴 kě/ wǒ hěn kě thirsty/ I am very thirsty Now click and listen Useful adjectives (2) • 热/很热/太热了 rè/ hěnrè/ tài rè le hot/ very hot/ too hot • 漂亮 piào liang beautiful/pretty • 累／我很累 lèi/ wǒ hěn lèi tired/ I am tired • 贵/太贵了 guì/ tài guì le expensive/ too expensive Now click and listen Test on adjectives 1. Click to listen and say what they mean in English Answers 1) I am hungry 2) Great! 3) very good 2. Can you say the following phrases in Chinese? 1) Great! 2) delicious 3) too expensive Click and listen to the answers. BBC Chinese learning site www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese • Real Chinese: an introductory course for beginners with video clip, cultural note etc. • Pinyin and tone guide plus games • Character guide plus games • Tongue twisters • Chinese jokes • And many more!