Ben in Hong Kong©

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Horse Scolding

Today was my first Mandarin lesson.

First off, it is so much easier than Cantonese! There are only 4 tones which is far easier than the 9 that the Cantonese language uses. Plus you can learn it using a phonetic system called Pinyin. The pronounciation is not natural, but once you learn it then basically you can sit down and memorise the vocabulary and speak it like you would French or German. Mainland China now uses this system for teaching Chinese in schools so it's not even a special method made for us outsiders.

For example:
xuesheng = Student (me!)
cesuo = Toilet (not me)

But then there is the matter of the tones.
Take a look at this sentance in Pinyin: ma ma ma ma?

This could translate as: Did mother scold the horse?

I can't indicate here, but above each 'ma' there is a symbol indicating the tone you should use when pronouncing each 'ma'. Get it wrong and you could start throwing accusations of horse scolding all over the place!!!


No comments: