Review of Mandarin Chinese

We took a vacation to China this past summer and over the preceeding year, I tried to learn as much Chinese as I could. Because the language is spoken by SO many people, learning it opens the possibility of communicating with all those people.


I found the fact that adding "bu" (for "not") before a word or phrase inverted it to be useful for putting together clumsy but functional pidgeon sentences. I find speaking the tones easier than listening for them. English is my first language, and while there is SOME intonation in it there is nothing like the tone structure in Chinese. Getting my mouth to make the tone distinctions (particularly the "down-up" 3rd tone) was tricky, but I found it nearly impossible to hear the third tone when a native speaker used it. I know they used it, but to my untrained ear, it was so subtle.

How does it compare to other languages? Hard to learn since there's absolutly no over lap when it comes to word parts. Spanish is a breeze to learn (especially in America where Spanish is all around us) in comparison.

I also learned about 2000 words and phrases in Greek for a vacation we took there. Greek was easier to learn because there are so many Greek roots and word parts sprinkled through English.

With any of the European languages, you have tiny little hooks that act as anchors in sentences as you're trying to learn the rest of the language.

One thing I appreciated about Chinese is how little grammar there appears to be in it.

To be honest, I don't find the sound of Chinese to be very pleasant. I think it's because the vocal sounds are so unusual to my English speaking mind that it just sounds like nonsense. On the other hand, I find that when Chinese people learn English their accent is often quite pleasant. And, yes, the language does seem easier on the ears when set to music/sung.

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