Quick Mandarin Lesson

This is a place holder until I actually have my own picture… so, deal with this for now.

As I broached in a previous post, I will be boarding a plane to Xi’an, China on June 30th. What does this mean? It means I need to learn Mandarin by June 30th. Hahaha.. haha… ha…

Brief introduction to Mandarin:

Pinyin is the written, phonetic language composed of latin letters.

For example: “wo(3)” is pinyin for 我 (Chinese writing system), which means I/me.        (And yes, “wo” is me…)

“Words” normally consist of 2-5 letters, but are grouped together with others to form vocabulary.

For example: diàn (电) loosely means “electric” + nǎo (脑) means “brain” = diànnǎo (电脑) “computer”

There are 4 tones, or pitches, which distinguish the meaning of a word. These are differentiated either through numbers succeeding pinyin, or one of 4 accent marks above vowels of pinyin, and are recognized in speech through intonation.

For example: “ma” in four different tones can mean mom: mā(1) 妈, hemp: má(2) 麻, horse: mǎ(3) 马, or to scold: mà(4) ma

(Your voice should rise and fall as the tone marks do (1. flat, 2. raise as if a question, 3. swoop down and then up, and 4. a firm “no” sound)

Simple enough, right? Well… it is, yet it totally isn’t. Conjugation? Don’t worry about it! Tense? Don’t worry about it! Tone? WORRY ABOUT IT! Because if someone is speaking to you at 100mph about their mom who scolded them for ruining their hemp while riding a horse, you’re screwed. The last thing you’re going to be worried about is whether or not their subjects and verbs agreed.

The surprising thing is, I’m picking up on it. The words click. For example (sorry for all of the examples, but they’re efficient and I’m exhausted after writing a Jane Eyre essay), the word for “apple” is píngguǒ (苹果). To me, that sounds like a word that would mean apple. Why? No idea. It just does.

Plus, I have been notified by my dear friend that moved into town two years ago from China (hello, Emily!), that I do not have an American accent when speaking Mandarin. This was probably her trying to be encouraging rather than being truthful. As tennis doubles partners, we’ve decided that we will communicate in Mandarin while playing once I return from my trip. How will this help us defeat our opponents? No clue. It may even hurt us. But it’s all about intimidation, right?

Anyway, in conclusion, the only possible explanation is that I was Chinese in a past life.


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