Mandarin Chinese is the most common dialect of Chinese and is the basis of 普通话 (Pǔtōnghuà, literally "Common Language"). It is spoken in Northern and Central China. It is the world's largest language, with 885 million native speakers.
Chinese is a tonal language and has four tones. Rising, falling, falling rising and high: má, mà, mǎ and mā.
Mandarin is a widely given example of an unmarked language, having no case, gender, or plurals. It does not conjugate verbs. All this results in a very important word order (which is often very similar to the word order of English) and getting a feel for the correct word order is essential.
Chinese characters are logographs composed of radicals, or smaller units of certain strokes that can give a hint to the meaning or pronounciation of a character. There are tens of thousands of characters of which several thousand have everyday use and are required to be considered literate. Taiwan uses traditional characters while Mainland China went through a reform in the 20th century resulting in the official use of simplified characters. It can also be written with Pinyin.
Common difficulties Edit
The most daunting task for any student of Chinese, regardless of dialect, is mastering the writing system. The tonal nature of spoken Mandarin Chinese also presents difficulty for many students with no prior experience speaking a tonal language.
There are premade mnemonics to help remember vocabulary with tones at MandarinMnemonics.com
- Have you seen How to study Chinese signs?
The official FSI course is Speed Learning Languages,for Mandarian ChineseThe Speed Learning Languages course was developed by the U.S. Government (Foreign Service Institute) to teach diplomats, FBI, and other U.S. officials a foreign language in a faster and easier way. The course was never meant to be released to the public, but they eventually released it and we can now use their language learning techniques as well. The Speed Learning Languages course is very fast paced and not as recommend for beginners as other courses such as Pimsleur. Although if you are serious about learning the language it doesn't get much better than this. Included in the coarse is:
- 90+ hours of audio with accompanying text
- 4 levels reaching from beginner to advanced
- can be used without computer
- Available languages are: French, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin)