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Mandarin Learning Tips Blog

Chinese Animals With Very Literal Names

Jinna Wang | December 30, 2016

When it comes to naming animals, some languages are more literal than others. For example, the English word “jellyfish” conjures up a vivid picture of what the animal looks like. “Seahorse,” too, is an example of an animal name created through adding two words together. If you think about it, the little sea creature’s head does resemble that of a horse.

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Are Chinese Speakers More Likely To Have Perfect Pitch?

Joe Milazzo | December 15, 2016

Some of the greatest geniuses in the Western classical tradition, such as Mozart and Chopin, are rumored to have had perfect pitch, the rare ability identify a musical note precisely without any aid. Most people differentiate pitches by comparing one tone to another, and only about 1 in 10,000 in the US and Europe can identitfy notes based purely on the sonic information provided by a single tone. For a long time, perfect pitch was believed to be a gift of nature—child prodigies such as Mozart seemed to just be born with an innate musicality that allowed them to play entire concerti by ear,” or after having auditioned the piece of music just once. However, recent studies showing native Chinese speakers to be nine times more likely to have perfect pitch have raised questions about how much nature is responsible for perfect pitch, suggesting that nurture may play a much more significant role than previously believed.

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What is Putonghua?

Jinna Wang | December 13, 2016

You've been working on your Chinese for a few years, and maybe you are pretty confident in your Chinese skills. Today, you finally decided to take your learning outside the classroom and visit an authentic Chinatown restaurant. "I'll even place my order in Chinese." You thought.

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10 Chinese Words With No English Equivalent

Joe Milazzo | November 16, 2016

Every language has at least one word or phrase that defies translation. Brazilian Portuguese has "saudade" (a wistful attachment to someone or something now distant or absent; almost nostalgia, but with more passion). Danish is famous for the word "hygge," which describes a very specific kind of comfort, one that is grounded in what we often describe in English as “rustic charm.” This language phenomenon comes from name concepts or emotional conditions unique to originating cultures. 

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Chinese Characters With Multiple Pronunciations

Patrick Kim | November 12, 2016

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 (d yīnzì ), and comprise about 20% of the 2,400 recommended to learn if you want to be able to read a newspaper. Some of these characters change pronunciation in tone only, while others can also change part or all of their pinyin. If you want to reduce the amount of time it takes learn Chinese, then it might be necessary to learn these the hard way, one-by-one. However, don't get caught up if you are having trouble memorizing all of these -- as time goes on, enough exposure and practice with Chinese will help you understand each of the differences in their situation context. Once you're there, you are sure to impress with your subtle understanding of Chinese.  

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6 Terms Of Endearment In Chinese

Jinna Wang | November 11, 2016
You were a) on vacation, b) at a friend’s party, or c) on a popular online dating app when you met the boy/girl of your dreams in China. You gather up the courage to  introduce yourself, and soon the two of you are magically and madly in love. You’re even thinking about spending the upcoming holidays together.
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