The single most frustrating thing about living in China is the inability to communicate. Which, I hesitantly admit, is kind of our bad considering Mandarin has nearly 2 billion speakers worldwide. However, we are trying to practice! Both by having Davi as our trusty conversation partner and also taking a course in oral Mandarin. So far, we’ve learned a lot, and we thought we would share some of our findings and frustrations with you.
Fun facts about Mandarin:
-It has the most speakers of any language in the world- though over 2/3 of all Mandarin speakers are illiterate.
-This makes sense because the language has over 49,888 characters that are all completely distinct. This is crazy, if you consider that the English language only has 26 letters to memorize.
-There is a romanized system for learning Chinese, and it’s called Pinyin. However, it is very limiting when you start increasing your vocabulary and is pretty much abandoned by students after they finish elementary school.
-The spoken language is much simpler (especially if you’ve got forced immersion going for you)- but is broken up into multiple regional dialects.
-There are four tones (depicted in Pinyin using the little lines above the letters), but our local dialect only has 3 and drops the most difficult one! Lucky us!
-Even if you are pronouncing a word incorrectly, you will be understood if you use the correct tone. This is how people across the different regions still manage to understand each other.
-Verbs are not conjugated in Chinese, which is how we can tell if our high school students have been using Google Translate for their homework. (read: soup now pot stirring- instead of Now, place the soup in the pot and stir.
The video above has Davi speaking a few phrases that we use/hear on a day to day basis! Check it out!
As usual, this video is available on Vimeo in higher quality:
If you have the desire to practice your survival Mandarin (preferably to come visit us), Lost Laowai has a great post with some important key phrases:
Stay warm and look out for some holiday cheer coming soon from China,
<3, K &V