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Mandarin

Countries Spoken - China and ?; Continent - Asia

With very grateful thanks to Laura who took an enormous amount of trouble over these.

Mandarin is a very literal language and a lot of what you say is explained simply by context and by little 'add-on' sounds within sentences that mean it is a question or is referring to something that has already happened etc.For example we would say, "It's a hot day isn't it?" The Mandarin would say "Day hot + sound to show it wasn't hot before + sound to show this was a question"

Mandarin is a tonal language so you have to adjust how you say a word to mean something completely different; For example take the word "qing"

If you say "qing" in a high, level voice it can mean "clean, clear and pure".

If you say "qing" with your voice rising like a question it can mean "feelings and affection".

If you say "qing" dropping your voice low and then flicking it up slightly at the end it can mean, "to ask".

If you say "qing" with your voice falling sharply like giving a dog a bossy command to sit, then it can mean, "to celebrate"

These are the four main tones and then there is a neutral tone, which is as it sounds. When you are learning Mandarin then you write a symbol for the tone over the top of the word so you know how to say it - just be aware if anyone is practising some of these words they may not be saying exactly what they think they are!

Numbers

One
Yi
Eleven
Shi Yi
Twenty One
Er Shi Yi
Two
Er
Twelve
Shi Er
Twenty Two
Er Shi Er
Three
San
Thirteen
Shi San
Thirty
San Shi
Four
Si
Fourteen
Shi Si
Forty
Si Shi
Five
Wu
Fifteen
Shi Wu
Fifty
Wu Shi
Six
Liu
Sixteen
Shi Liu
Sixty
Lui Shi
Seven
Qi
Seventeen
Shi Qi
Seventy
Qi Shi
Eight
Ba
Eighteen
Shi Ba
Eighty
Ba Shi
Nine
Jiu
Nineteen
Shi Jiu
Ninety
Jui Shi
Ten
Shi
Twenty
Er Shi
One Hundred
Yi Bai

The number rule for 21-29, 31-39 etc is as follows...

Rule for twenty and above: number of tens + number

eg. 47 is Si (4) Shi (10) Qi (7) Si Shi Qi
83 is Ba (8) Shi (10) San (3) Ba Shi San

Alphabet

Where N/A is put in, no equivalent to the English exists in this language. The sounds are phonetic.

A
B
C
D
E
as in Bun
Hard 's' tongue behind the teeth to make a 'ts' sound
as in Dog
short as in jerk
F
G
H
I
J
as in Food
as in Good
as in Hut but with a breath out to make it a soft sound
as in bee*
as in Jump
K
L
M
N
O
as in Kick
as in Log
as in Mouse
as in Nice
'oh' as in go
P
Q
R
S
T
as in Panda
Hard 'ch' with the tongue behind the teeth to make a 'tch' sound
very guttural and slightly rolled like a Scots accent
as in Sing
as in Tag
U
V
W
X
Y
as in too**
as in Wing
Aspirated 'sh' tongue in roof of mouth to make a 'hsh' sound
Z
CH
SH
ZH
Yi
Hard 'z' to make a 'dz' sound
as in Church
as in Shout
almost as in Jump but with a slight buzz
As in Bee
EI AO OU AI EN
as in hay as in cow as in show as in tie as in olden times
IE IAO IU IAN UI
ee-eh as is bee-enter ee-ow as in bee cow ee-oh as in bee go ee-en as in bee-ben oo-ay as in too-way
         
         

*Except after these Zh, Sh, Z, C, S, R when it is short as is jig

**(except after 'y', 'yu' is pronounced like "see you jimmy", when spoken with a strong Glaswegian accent)

Other end sounds are either a combination of the above or as they would be in English but often with a real nasal twang

eg. 'Tang' would be a longer nasal sound 'tahng'

Sounds to practice because they are so similar:

She and Shi

Ji and Qi

Chong and Zhong

Chang and Zhang

Days and Months

January
Yi Yue
Monday
Xing Qi Yi
February
Er Yue
Tuesday
Xing Qi Er
March
San Yue
Wednesday
Xing Qi San
April
Si Yue
Thursday
Xing Qi Si
May
Wu Yue
Friday
Xing Qi Wu
June
Liu Yue
Saturday
Xing Qi Liu
July
Qi Yue
Sunday
Xing Qi Ri
August
Ba Yue
September
Jiu Yue
Morning
N/A
October
shi Yue
Afternoon
N/A
November
Shi Yi Yue
Evening
N/A
December
Shi Er Yue
Night
N/A
Month Yue (moon)   Week Xing Qi

In the case of Sunday, Ri does mean Sun rather than being a number.

Greetings

Hello
Ni Hao
Goodbye
Zai Jian
How are you
Shen-ti Hao Ma
Good Morning
Zao Hao

Please is Quig Ni

Thank you is Xie Xie

The old ways of greeting people which go back to when many people did not have enough to eat or clothes to keep out the cold were

Have you eaten yet? Ni Chi Le Mei You

Are You Cold? Leng Bu Leng

 

 

Relations

Mummy
Ma Ma
Daddy
Ba Ba
Elder Sister Jie Jie
Younger Sister
Mie Mie
Elder Brother Ge Ge
Younger Brother
Di Di
Uncle
Bo Fu
Aunt
Bo Mu
Baby
Ying Er
Grandma
Zu Mu
Grandpa
Zu Fu
Cousin
Tang

Flag of China

 

Colours

Red
Hong Se
Yellow
HuangSe
Blue
Lan Se
Green
Lu Se
Purple
Zi Se
Orange
Ju Se
Pink
Fen Hong Se
Brown
Zong Se
Grey
Hui Se
Black
Hei Se
White
Bai Se

The word for colour is Se

Size and Shape

Small
Xiao
Large
Da
Tiny
Ji Xiao
Huge
Ji Da
Square
Fang Xing
Rectangle
Chang Fang Xing
Triangle
San Jiao Xing
circle
YuanXing
oval
Tuo Yuan Xing

Directions

North
Bei Fang
South
Nan Fang
East
Dong Fang
West
Xi Fang
Left
Zuo Bian
Right
You Bian
Up
Shang
Down
Xia
High
Gao
Low
Di

Question starters

I have included these but with Lauras rider that they do not translate well, due to changing with situations.

When

Shen-me Shi-hou
Where He Chu OR Zai Nar
Why Wei Shen-me
How Zen Me
Who Shui de OR He Ren
What Shen-me Yang

Some China associations and names

- to be expanded!

China Zhong Guo ( means the central kingdom)

Chinese Han Yu ( as in Chinese language)

Chopsticks - Kuai Zi

Panda - Xiong Mao

Rice - Mi Fan