Are you thinking about learning how to speak Chinese? This is a language that is spoken by over one billion people worldwide, a language that is broken up into many different dialects. The most prevalent dialect is that which is referred to as standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or the Peking dialect.
Despite being the official language of both Taiwan and China, and in certain areas of Singapore, Cantonese is the second runner-up, a language primarily spoken in what is called the Guangdong province, located north of modern-day Hong Kong. There are certain words that you need to know if you are going to be traveling in an area where Chinese is spoken on a regular basis. In this article, we will focus upon the Mandarin dialect and basic Chinese words that you should know so that you can easily function while in that country.
Basic Chinese Vocabulary
As with any language, there are certain words that you really do need to know, even if you are not going to have an in-depth conversation with people that speak the language. Just knowing some of these words will give you enough vocabulary to convey your thoughts, and even answer questions, without having to become fluent with the Mandarin language. Here are the top 10 words that you should know in Mandarin Chinese that can help you interact with Chinese speaking people.
Top 10 Words You Should Know
Hello is “Ni hao”
Goodbye is “zài jiàn”
Yes is “shì”
No is “bú shì”
Thank you is “xìe xìe”
You’re welcome is “u yong xie”
Please is “qíng”
Excuse me is “dui bu qi”
I do not understand is “wov bù dovng”
How do you say this in English? is “zhe yòng English zen me jiavng”
Understanding Chinese Words
Another aspect to this language, as with most modern languages, is there is a written component to this language. It is actually much more complex than understanding how to write English, and involves learning what is called Chinese orthography. The earliest Chinese characters were completely monosyllabic, what we would consider as a morpheme in the English language. Almost 2000 years ago, a scholar of the Han dynasty was able to categorize the characters into six different categories.
These categories included the pictographs themselves, ideographs, and phonetic and derivative characters. Four of the six utilize both simple and compound variations, allowing for the language to grow into what it is today. Whether you learn the traditional system, or what is called the simplified Chinese characters system, you will be able to associate these symbols with meaning in the same way that words are spoken in English today.
It does take quite a bit of time to learn to speak and write the Chinese language, even if you are using basic words. Like any language that you learn, there is always going to be a learning curve that will have you confused for a little while, but once you start to see the connection between the language itself, and the characters that you write, you will become more proficient, going far beyond basic Chinese words and becoming fluent within this prominent language in the Orient.