Because Chinese has only about 400 phonetic syllables, it is fairly common to encounter words with similar pronunciation, but different means and different characters (not to be confused with characters that have multiple pronunciations). In the sentence 北京就是背景, which means "Beijing is the setting," "Beijing" (北京 Běijīng) and "setting" (背景 bèijǐng), share the same pinyin. A speaker who has mastered the tones will have no problem hearing the difference between 北京 and 背景, but beginning learners often stumble over near homophones. The frequent occurrence of near-homophones in the Chinese language is not just something that captures the attention of beginning learners, however. Chinese homophones are a significant aspect of Chinese cultural customs, such as in the wordplay that the traditional comedic performance art crosstalk employs, and in various observances surrounding Chinese New Year.
Mandarin Learning Tips Blog
Chengyu (成语 Chéngyǔ) are idiomatic phrases which usually consist of four characters. Because many chengyu
In each language, spoken and written styles have their differences, especially when the written language has a long history. As China has a very long written tradition dating back to the Shang dynasty (3500-3000 years ago), the spoken language (口语 kǒuyǔ) and the written language (书面语 shūmiànyǔ) differ considerably more than in most languages. Written Chinese is much more formal than spoken Chinese, making it difficult for many Chinese learners who are able to carry on normal conversations to read a newspaper or write a business letter. Even if written Chinese isn't within the scope of your Chinese learning goals, it is useful to be able to recognize it and differentiate it from spoken language as you progress through your Chinese lessons.
It is common for Chinese characters to have more than one meaning, but did you know that characters can also alter their pronunciation in different contexts? These rather frustrating characters are called 多音字 (duō
In the West, we don’t think a lot about the origins or meaning of our names. By contrast, Chinese names have immediately recognizable
The HSK 汉语水平考试 (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì), or Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized exam roughly equivalent to a TOEFL for Mandarin. It covers academic, professional, and daily life Chinese skills, making it appropriate for anyone who wants to obtain official credentials for their Chinese ability or just track their learning. While the majority of test takers are students, the HSK is a great way for professionals to impress prospective employers with your commitment to learning Chinese, and an opportunity to continue improving your Chinese in a measured process.