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Mandarin Learning Tips Blog

Differences Between Spoken And Written Chinese

Patrick Kim | January 14, 2017

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 shūmiànyǔdiffer 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. 

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Why "Learn Chinese" Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

Sara Lynn Hua | January 01, 2017

The new year is upon us, which means that people are making their New Year’s resolutions with enthusiasm and hope. There’s one resolution that we think everyone needs to add to their list: Learn Chinese.

Surprised? Well, what if we told you that learning Chinese could help you achieve multiple other New Year’s resolutions?

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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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