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Interesting Facts about Chinese Language

Interesting Facts about Chinese Language

  • Chinese grammar really isn’t that difficult

Chinese grammar is extremely simple. There are no verb conjugations and tenses are expressed by using time phrases such as “tomorrow, yesterday, in the future” etc. If that wasn’t reason enough to pick up a Mandarin textbook, there’s also no gender-specific nouns and no need to distinguish between singular and plural nouns, take that Latin languages!

  • Chinese online slang

The creativity of Chinese netizens has given rise to a new chapter of Chinese language use online in recent years. Here’s some of our favourite examples of Chinese internet slang: in Chinese three is “san”, so “۳Q” sounds like the English “thank you”; eight is “ba” so “۸۸” is used as it sounds like the English ‘bye-bye’.

  • Don’t take that tone with me!

Contrary to popular belief that there are only four tones in Mandarin Chinese, there is also a fifth ‘neutral tone’. There’s a famous poem called 施氏食狮史 Shī shì shí shī shǐ (The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den) which is comprised of 120 characters, all of which have the pronunciation “shi” – talk about a tongue twister!

  • Speak to the world

Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over 955 million native speakers worldwide (that’s more than any other language!). This means that by learning Chinese you unlock the potential to speak to over 13% of the world’s total population. Chinese is also one of the 6 official UN languages – the others being English, Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish.

  • Anglicisms in Chinese

It’s not only in online slang that we can see the effect that English has had on Chinese language, Mandarin also has lots of “loan words” taken from English. Take, for example, 巧克力 qiǎo kè lì for chocolate and 沙发 shā fā for sofa.

  • Think you’ve got the measure of it?

One of the most troublesome parts of learning Mandarin Chinese is the need to use measure words to denote the quantity of nouns. In English we could simply say “six apples”, whereas in Chinese we would have to say “six (measure word) apples”. It can get tricky, particularly considering there are over 240 measure words in total, but you soon get the hang of it! If not, there’s always some such as 个 gè that can be reverted to in times of trouble!

If any of you would like to contribute any of your own suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – particularly if it’s something that you think will take us by surprise!


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