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Survival Chinese
Chilin Shih
East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Chinese Geography
Chinese Language
Chinese Banquet Etiquette
Chinese Geography
China has 1.3 billion people.
5000 years of history
9.6 million square km of area
Chinese Geography
Modern Chinese population
concentrates in the east.
The Yellow River valley was the
cradle of Chinese civilization.
The Yangtze River is the longest
river in Asia. The river basin is
home to one-third of Chinese
population.
Chinese Geography
Chinese Geography
Chinese Population Density
Chinese Geography
Forbidden City, Beijing
Great Wall, Beijing
Xi’an
Guilin
Shanghai
Chinese Language
Mandarin is the official standard
language of China. Though China
is well-known for language
diversity.
There are many dialects such as
Cantonese and Shanghainese.
Chinese Language and Dialects
Chinese Dialect Map
The Chinese writing system
consists of more than 40,000
characters
A typical college students know
about 3000-5000 characters
Chinese Writing System
Some characters retain the
ancient pictographic design.
Some are created with whimsical
combination.
Chinese Writing System
sun
moon
car
horse
ri4
sun
yue4
ming2
moon
bright
mu4
lin2
sen1
tree
woods
forest
Most of the Chinese characters
are actually sound-based, with a
component indicating the sound
and another the meaning
category.
Chinese Writing System
ma
question marker
ma4
ma1
ma3
mother
scold
horse
ma3
ma3
ant
weight
agate
ma3
In a traditional Chinese book, the
characters are written vertically
and are read from right to left.
Chinese Writing System
In modern books Chinese
characters can be aligned
horizontally and are read from
left to right. This layout is
commonly used for scientific
articles where English words are
often included.
Chinese Writing System
Chinese Tones
Chinese is a tone language. Different tones, or
pitch contours, change the meaning of the word.
Ma1: mother
Ma2: hemp
Ma3: horse
Ma4: to scold
Chinese Tones
Ma1-ma0 ma4 ma3.
Mother scolds the horse.
Ma3 ma4 ma1-ma0.
The horse scolds mother.
Pinyin is a Romanization
system—a spelling aid using
Latin alphabet to annotate the
pronunciation of Chinese
characters
Pinyin – A Romanization System
a, e, i, o, u, ü
Pinyin uses these letters for 16
vowel sounds. The pronunciation
changes with context, though
generally, say them as if you are
singing Italian songs.
Pinyin – Vowels
bi, ba, bu
pi, pa, pu
di, da, du
ti, ta, tu
ga, gu
ka, ku
bei, bai
sa, su
ban, bang
pin, ping
puo, pong
ma, na, la
Pinyin examples
q = ch
j = gee
x = sh
zh = jr
(say them with a smile!)
with the tongue curled
qing wen
xie xie
May I ask,
please
Thank you
Pinyin examples
Beijing
Beijing
Zhong guo
China
Banquet Etiquette
Banquets serve important
social functions in China.
Friendship is strengthened
and political and business
decisions were typically made
during banquets.
Place Setting
The seat facing the door is the
honored seat for the guest of
honor.
The host sits opposite to the
guest of honor.
Seating Arrangement
Guest
Host
Dishes are served together in a
casual gathering.
Casual Banquet
In a formal banquet, dishes are
served sequentially. There may
be ten to twelve courses,
starting with appetizers and
ending with a soup.
The Appetizer
The host will make a toast and
welcome everyone.
Gan bei!
This means bottom up.
Then the host will invite everyone to
start.
The honored guest is served first. This
custom is enthusiastically followed
for the first few courses.
The honored guest usually makes a
toast to the host when the second
dish is served. After that, every one
can initiate a toast to individual or to
the whole group. There may be many
rounds of toast during the course of
the meal.
When touching glasses, raise
your glass to a height that
reflects the social ranking.
When toasting to your boss or
senior, keep the rim of your
glass a bit lower.
The host is responsible for
ordering. It is an art to find the
perfect combination and
sequence to bring out the
optimal culinary experience.
There may be chicken, duck,
beef, pork and seafood,
alternating with vegetable
dishes.
Only half way through.
Enjoy each dish slowly. The host
will be happy if you sample
every thing.
Looking for a conversation topic?
Ask about the dishes. Many
dishes have interesting stories
behind them.
Is the fish head pointing at you?
Then it is your turn to drink.
The word fish sounds the same as
having more resources.
During New Year, we always leave
some fish in the plate to signify a
resourceful and abundant coming
year.
The Soup
The soup is served at the end of
the meal.
Afterwards, there may be fruit
and/or a simple dessert.
We will return for four modules
of survival Chinese:
•Greetings: Meng Liu
•Shopping: Huang-Lan Su
•Place names: Lingling Yao
•Daily necessities: Di Wendy Wu
We have a webpage for you with
vocabulary , sound recordings and
handout. There are also links to
nursery rhymes, poems and songs.
http://faculty.las.illinois.edu/cls/SurvivalChinese
Download
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