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Learning Chinese.

(10 Posts)
Seriouslyffs Thu 21-Jan-16 21:27:47

I'm watching 'The story of China' and once again kicking myself for never learning Mandarin.
Does anyone have any ideas how to start? Ideally mainly oral first then perhaps adding written but I think that's rather ambitious...

Seriouslyffs Thu 21-Jan-16 21:33:12

I mean Cantonese I think- mandarin's the written form?

BiscuitMillionaire Thu 21-Jan-16 21:36:18

You do mean Mandarin.

Try one of those online courses? My DCs did some Mandarin at school - it's very hard! Tonal language and all that.

Seriouslyffs Thu 21-Jan-16 21:41:26

Ah, that's a start! Thanks Biscuit

figginz Thu 21-Jan-16 21:43:44

Mandarin is what is spoken in mainland China and Taiwan. Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong. The written system is very similar.

Get a teacher or sign up to some classes. It's so so so very different at first that you may be tempted to drop out unless you're committed in some way. But don't worry it gets much easier quickly.

Good luck!

figginz Thu 21-Jan-16 21:44:48

Also there are some good resources on the BBC website

TheGreenTriangle Thu 21-Jan-16 21:48:41

Cantonese is a dialect, from the Canton (in Cantonese English) or Guangdong (in Mandarin English) region. Guangdong is in the south of China. It's the common dialect spoken there and the variation of Chinese that the early diaspora of Chinese speak.

Many of the more recent Chinese emigrants tend to be from other mainland parts of China and speak Mandarin.

The two dialects (there are many more!) are the same basic language, except that the written form for Mandarin is "simplified" so some characters use fewer strokes than the Cantonese version. And they sound very different from each other too.

Mandarin is the official language and is taught in schools (even in HK nowadays).

Mando should be easier to learn with its 3 tones, than Canto with its 7 tones wink

TheGreenTriangle Thu 21-Jan-16 21:50:17

Whoops, 4 tones in Mandarin. Makes all the difference, eh?!

Movingonmymind Thu 21-Jan-16 21:52:17

Thought Cantonese had 9? Both bloody hard either way. But useful. Prefer the sound of Mandarin Chinese though.

JessieMcJessie Sat 13-Feb-16 19:36:58

As to how you go about learning, Mandarin has a written form used for teaching which uses our alphabet and is called pinyin. So many foreigners learn by writing and reading everything in pinyin and then move on to the Simplified Chinese characters once they have a basic grasp of the structure of the language. Nb simplified is notjust for learners, it's how the whole mainland write.

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