11Aug

Now You Know: 6 Interesting Facts About the Mandarin Language

6 interesting facts about Mandarin Chinese

China is becoming a force to reckon with.

Mandarin is becoming a fast approaching global superpower. With over a billion native speakers, about 15% of the world’s population speaks Chinese as their primary language. That’s more than English, Spanish, French and German - combined!

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Mandarin may be more interesting than you thought it was.

It’s a language that’s unlike any others. There are no plurals, no genders, and no tenses. There are so many interesting facts and figures about Mandarin Chinese and we’re sharing those with you today.

Mandarin has no alphabet

Keats Schools student standing in front of the Mandarin language chart

Yes… you read that right. The language of Mandarin has no alphabet. It uses symbols also called Chinese characters. These characters represent one of the oldest writing systems in the world.

There are two major forms of these characters - traditional and simple.

The traditional characters are used in Taiwan, Macau, etc. While simple characters are used prominently in China.

Characters can also be written in any direction - left to right, right to left or top to bottom. This makes the script extremely versatile.

Anglicisms in Chinese

Keats School student is learning about the Anglicisms in Chinese

Mandarin may seem daunting because of the characters and the vast differences compared to the English language, but there are some similarities.

We can see the effect that English has had on the Chinese language with the “loan words” taken from English.

For example 巧克力 qiǎo kè lì for "chocolate" and 沙发 shā fā for "sofa".

The fastest growing language in the West

Not only is Mandarin the fasting growing language in the world, but it has also seen the most growth in people learning it as a second language.

Chinese is quickly becoming the language of business and tourism and business professionals see the future including a lot more Mandarin characters.

Simple Grammar

Chinese verbs are not modified for tense like they are for the English language, as well as many others.

When it comes to nouns, unlike English, in which plural nouns are marked with an -s, Chinese nouns have the same form no matter if they are singular or plural.

You don't even need to specify gender when using speaking and writing Mandarin.

Listen for the tone

Students at Keats School practicing tone during one-on-one intensive language course

Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. The same syllable can be pronounced with different tones. There are four main tones and one neutral tone.

The first tone is high and level. To pronounce the first tone correctly, try to stay mostly monotone when saying the whole syllable.

The second tone rises moderately. In English, we tend to associate this rise in pitch with a question.

The third tone falls and then rises again and the fourth starts out high but drops sharply to the bottom of the tonal range.

When it comes to the neutral tone, it’s pronounced quickly and lightly without a regard to its pitch. These four tones (plus the neutral one) means that one word in Chinese can mean four different things! Practice your tones.

It’s an official UN language

Chinese joins English, French, Russian, Arabic, and Spanish as one of the six official UN languages. The fasting growing language (Mandarin) became an official language of the UN on February 1, 1946.

Is studying Mandarin Chinese difficult?

Studying Mandarin Chinese is not as difficult as what most people think. Mandarin has a simple set of rules, easier to understand than English or French grammar. Say goodbye to conjugating verbs, say goodbye to singular and plural nouns and say goodbye to gender-specific nouns.

You may find the most difficult part when studying Mandarin is mastering the different tones. Keats School is here to help you. Contact us today to learn about how you can master Mandarin in Kunming, China and learn the specifics of this growing language.

Topics: Learn Chinese, Mandarin Language

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