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    Default Conversational Chinese, A Guide for Dummies

    The idea of this thread came from a few sources. Previously, when I was bored and no one would join my groups, I would list in my LFMs "Come learn to speak to a farmer!". Recently, I also participated in one server thread where people were asking if there was any "unofficial" thread. The result it this!

    Before I begin, some self introduction. I'm Chinese by race, Singaporean by nationality. Singapore is a small sunny island state situated at the tip of the Malaysian Pennisular. Population is approximately 60% Chinese, 22% Malay, 12% Indian and 6% Others. English is our first language and we also learn our mother tongue, which in my case, Mandarin.

    As many people have problems with the pronunciation, Mandarin characters are taught using Hanyu Pinyin. It is sort of a direct translation of phonetics in English. However, there is a slight difference. In the English phonetics, there is usually a set to represent a particular sound, but in Hanyu Pinyin, there are four. We have what we call "sounds" for each. Sound come in 4 varieties which we represent using -, /, \/ and \. These symbols are usually placed on top of the vowel. However, it is difficult to put them in text and in some books, usually represented by (1), (2), (3) and (4) respectively.

    The "-" sound or the first sound is to pronounce the word without variation in tone. The "/" sound or the second sound is to pronounce it with an increaing pitch. For "\/" or the third sound, the pitch drops slightly then picks up. And the "\" or the fourth sound is a short downward tone with a sharp cutoff.

    Take the word "pin" for example. pin(1) can signify the word to represent "fight". pin(2) can signify the word to represent "piece together". pin(3) can signify the word to represent "bottle". Last but not lease, pin(4) can signify the word to represent "hire". This is not the end yet for there can be many words with the same Hanyu Pinyin pronunciation. In addition, the same word cand also have a few pronunciation.

    Have fun with this guide and hope this helps people communicate better.

    Lesson 1 - Greetings/Introductions (DDO style)

    Ni(2) Hao(3) - ni = you, hao = good, meaning "how are you?"

    Ni(2) Shi(4) Na(3) Li(3) Ren(2) - shi = yes, na = there, li = in, ren = person, meaning "where are you from?"

    Wo(3) Lai(2) Zhi(4) Mei(3) Guo(2) - wo = me, lai = come, zhi = from, mei = beautiful, guo = country, meaning "I'm from America"

    Ni(2) Hui(4) Jiang(3) Ying(1) Yu(3) Ma(1) - hui = will, jiang = speak, ying yu = english, ma = ending for question "do you speak English?"

    Ni(2) Zai(4) Na(3) Li(3) - zai = at, meaning "where are you?"

    Wo(3) Men(2) Zai(4) <insert quest name> - men = group, meaning "we are at <insert quest name>"

    Lesson 2: Conversations with a Plat Seller

    dui(4) bu(4) qi(3) - dui = right, bu = no, qi = up, meaning "sorry"

    wo(3) bu(4) yao(4) mai(3) jin(1) - yao = want, mai = buy, jin = gold, meaning "i do not want to buy gold/plat"

    qing(3) ni(3) bu(4) yao(4) shao(1) rao(3) wo(3) - qing = please, shao rao = harass, meaning "please do not harass me"

    ni(3) zai(4) zhe(4) yiang(4) wo(3) ke(3) yao(4) kao(4) ni(3) - zhe = this, yiang = thing, ke = will, kao = sue, meaning "if you continue do it, i'll will sue you"

    qing(3) ni(3) xiang(4) ning(3) mu(3) qin(1) wen(4) hao(3) - xiang = towards, ning = your, mu = female, qin = relative, wen = ask, meaning "please say hi to your mother for me"

    Lesson 3: Simple Pronunciations

    In hanyu pinyin, each pronunciation is actually made up of two parts. Its similar to English.

    English example:

    oe when combined with f gives foe and with t give toe, both have similar endings but the "front" sound is different.

    In hanyu pinyin, it is the same.

    Common endings:

    a - "ah" (English equivalent of pronunciation), i - "e", u - "oo", e - "eh", o - "oar"

    Common starts:
    s - "ser", k - "ker", n - "ner", m - "mer", t - "ter" (note: the "er" is silent)

    ma = mer+ah, pronounced as "mah"

    ni = ner+e, pronounced as "nee"

    ku = ker+oo, pronounced as "koo"

    so = ser+oar, pronounced as "soar"

    te = ter+eh, pronounced as "teh"

    Lesson 4: Greetings (in general)

    zao(3) an(1): zao = early, an = safe, meaning "good morning"

    wu(3) an(1): wu = noon, meaning "good afternoon"

    wan(3) an(1): wan = late, meaning "good night"

    ni(3) chi(1) bao(3) le(4) ma(1): chi = eat, bao = full, meaning "have you eaten?"

    xin(4) hui(4): "pleased to" (usually, xin hui xin hui is used to mean "pleased to meet you")

    hen(3) gao(1) xing(4) ren(4) shi(4) ni(3): hen = very, gao = high, xing = happy, ren shi = know, meaning "pleased to meet you"

    ni(3) hia(2) hao(3) ba(4): hai = are, ba = question ending, meaning "are you well?"

    Lesson 5: Salutations

    xie(4) xie(4): xie = thanks, meaning "thank you"

    ni(3) gan(4) de(4) hen(3) hao(3): dan = did, meaning "you did very well"

    zai(4) jian(4): zai = again, jian = see, meaning "see you again"

    gong(1) xi(3) ni(3): gong xi = congratulations, meaning "grats to you"

    xia(4) chi(4) zai(4) yi(4) qi(2) you(3) xi(4): xia = down, chi = attempt, yi qi = again, you xi = game, meaning "we'll party again the next time we meet"
    Last edited by Aranticus; 06-30-2008 at 10:24 PM.
    If you want to know why...

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