How Unique Chinese Is?

Know the difference to speed up learning

 

Knowing how unique Chinese is would help you to speed up the learning process.

Compare the Chinese language with your mother tongue, or other languages that you are familiar with. Find out the key difference. This will make you more discerning and help you to focus when planning the learning strategy.

Of course, when we are talking about uniqueness, we must first determine the parameters. Its uniqueness depends on the languages that we are comparing it with. If you are comparing it with some East Asian languages, such as Korean and Japanese, you would find that Chinese is not really unique. Since we are using English, let's use English as the parameter for comparison.

Comparing two languages are English, Chinese distinctly different in the following aspects:


Sound

Chinese is pronounced rather differently, when it is in comparison to English. While there are sounds pronounced in a similar way, such as 'b' as in 'bed' and 'p' as in 'pen'; there are others that are distinctly different. The words 'can' and 'women' are some good illustrations.

Learn to 'manage by exception', and you are likely to master the pronunciation far quicker.

Learn more about the distictive sounds of Mandarin Chinese.


Tones

Chinese is a tonal language. It has four tones. Master them beyond doubt. If you can, get them right before you speak the first word in the language. This will put you in the right mode, and save you the trouble of relearning later. Learn about the four tones.


Chinese characters

Unlike English, it is difficult for you to guess the sound of a Chinese character at a glance. They are not written in the alphabet. You will need a different approach to recognize and read the words. One of the effective ways to do this is to appreciate the Chinese character as pictures. The Chinese characters are pictogram anyway! Very often, you can guess their meaning by their look!

For example, the character 人 means human looks like a man standing. See more examples here.

 

Read more about learning Chinese.

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