Explaining how easy Chinese is to others pt.1

rypervenche Posted in 雜項
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Written Chinese


The written Chinese language is very intimidating and/or confusing to most who do not know how it actually works. Here is a very brief explanation of how Chinese characters are a very efficient and easy system, arguably easier than languages that use the Roman alphabet.

Over 97% of all Chinese characters have only 2 parts, a meaning part and a pronunciation. When looking at a character that you don’t know, you can use these parts to know a lot more about it.

Imaginary example

Let’s pretend that the words “maple”, “mother”, “river”, “hate”, “silver”, “shout”, “grab”, and “leg” are all pronounced “foo” in an imaginary language. They are all homonyms. However, when written each one has a little note next to it giving you a hint to its meaning.

Maple = wood-foo
Mother = woman-foo
River = water-foo
Hate = emotion-foo
Silver = metal-foo
Shout = sound-foo
Grab = hand-foo
Leg = bodypart-foo

This is essentially how Chinese works. Each character has a specific sound, which is given to us by a specific group of strokes that is known to the reader. In addition, there are 214 standard meaning parts which give us hints to characters’ meanings.

Real-life example

The phonetic part 辟 (bì). I’m going to ignore the tone for now, but just know that all of characters that follow are pronounced the same way and with the same tone.

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This phenomenon is much like suffixes in the English language, except that it is only used in the written language. Imagine if almost all words in the English language used a list of standard suffixes.

New Tong Wen Tang 新同文堂

rypervenche Posted in 雜項
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Would you like to view this page in Simplified Chinese? Want to see Baidu in Traditional Chinese? No problem! Get New Tong Wen Tang (新同文堂) for your browser and you will be able to read any website in your preferred script.

Firefox
**Click on the 繁 and 簡 to convert webpages, and the “S” and “T” to convert the clipboard.

Chrome/Chromium
**Click on the 同文 icon to toggle between Simplified and Traditional, right-click for more options.

Safari
**I have no experience with this browser, if you have tried it please let me know how to use it and I will update the post.

All other browsers
**Drag the 繁 and 簡 characters into your bookmarklets (tabs), then click on either one when on a webpage to convert it.

SPECIAL NOTE: As with all automatic converters, New Tong Wen Tang is not without fault. With characters that have multiple conversions, such as 斗 in SC, is both 斗 and 鬥 in TC, I believe it either uses the most common version or it has specific vocabulary in its database.

Either way you should learn these characters by heart, as you will encounter this problem all over the Internet. You can find a very complete list of these characters, here, 簡繁一對多.

More examples of 被

rypervenche Posted in 雜項
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Here are 2 more examples of 被 that I have found in my daily studying.

海綿寶寶(Spongebob Squarepants)

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線被切斷了,好討厭哦

“The wire has been cut, how annoying.”(lit. very annoying)

龍騎士(Eragon)

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「在他身後,也就是鹿群之前待的地方,一大圈的樹和草都被燒焦了,許多松樹光禿禿的立著,在焦黑圈子外面的草都被壓平了。」

在…後 → behind …
他身 → his body
也就是 → is also
鹿群 → deer herd
之前 → before
待 → to stay (first tone)
地方 → place
一大圈 → a large ring, a large circle
樹和草 → trees and grass
都 → all
燒焦 → to burn, to scorch
許多 → many, a lot of
松樹 → pine tree
光禿禿 → bald, naked
立著 → standing (站立著, but when object has no feet, you use 立著)
在…外面 → outside of …
焦黑 → burned black
圈子 → circle, ring
壓平 → to flatten

So literally this gives us, “Behind his body, is also previous deer herd staying place, a large circle of trees and grass all been burned, many pine trees nakedly standing, grass that is outside of burned black circle all been flattened.”

In normal English we have…

Behind him, where the deer herd had just been, a large circle of trees and grass had been burned. Many pine trees stood bald and outside of the blackened circle the grass had been flattened.

There you go, as requested a longer sentence from Eragon, as well as 3 real-life examples of 被. I hope you have enjoyed this post.^^

Fun ways to learn

rypervenche Posted in 雜項
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I know a lot of you out there think, “If I’m not learning from a textbook, or studying with flashcards, then I’m not learning.” Well I’ve got news for you, you don’t HAVE to learn that way!

You are not learning a foreign language to be able to take a test well, you are learning it to be able to communicate with others. Have fun with it! Don’t just sit there mindlessly memorizing vocabulary, taking tests, and killing yourself when you forget something. Go out and do something IN the language. You’ll be surprised, you can learn a lot from doing that.

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I learned 2 new 成語 today from 海綿寶寶.


I’ve already beaten this game, but playing video games is a great way to learn.

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I don’t often play MMOs, but you can learn a LOT of characters from them. What’s more, you can speak with native speakers in a fun environment.

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Put your Facebook in Chinese. With the help of a Chinese Reader, you can learn a lot of very useful vocabulary, as well as sentence structures. But why stop there? Put your Skype in Chinese, put your MSN in Chinese. Put your entire computer in Chinese!! If you’re on Mac or Linux, it’s very easy to do 🙂 If you’re on Windows, you can make it happen with a little money or a bit of unlawful activity.

Do everything that you love to do normally, but in Chinese. If you’re learning another language, do it in that language then. This is a great method of learning for any language!

Passive voice with 被

rypervenche Posted in 雜項
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There are a few ways to make the passive voice in Mandarin. We are going to focus on the most common way, by using 被.

I thought I would try something new in this post. Instead of writing my little lesson for 被 here, I decided to make a PDF explaining it. I made a simplified and traditional version, so choose whichever you like.

After clicking on the link click on the “Download” button on the top-right of the window. You cannot use Chinese Readers on the preview, you actually have to download the PDF.

Traditional Chinese

Simplified Chinese

I did not include any pronunciations because I expect all of you to be using some sort of dictionary or Chinese Reader. If you are not currently using one, get one HERE!

※ A little side note, the conjugated forms of the verb “to be” in the PDF should actually be considered part of the verb, but I chose to make them blue to help beginners get the concept of creating and understanding the passive voice.