Learning Pinyin Software

Learning Chinese is becoming very important in this day and age. However for the average westerner who has no clue much less any resources to do so it can seem a daunting task. That’s where the Pinyin steps in. Pinyin is described as a system of Romanized system of Chinese characters and was developed in China in the 1950’s and is now the official Romanization system of China, Singapore, the American Library Association and The US Library of Congress.

Learning Pinyin is important for anyone trying to get a grasp of the Chinese language as it provides for a way to read and write the Chinese language without using Chinese characters. However the learner must be careful; not all the individual sounds of Pinyin are the same with English. For example ‘c’ in Pinyin is the same as ‘ts’ in bits.

The four Mandarin tones are usually written as

The first tone which is a flat tone,
The second tone which is a rising tone,
The third tone which is a falling rising tone, and finally
the fourth tone which is a falling tone

Thus the Chinese for “hello” will be written as “nÄ­ hăo”.

Pinyin is a good system to understand Mandarin Language and should be studied by every person who is seriously interested in learning Chinese. There are many resources online that can teach you pinyin. Most of these are software based and are designed so that any person with no experience in Chinese can learn it.

Also if you have children and will like them to get a grasp of the Chinese language then it is imperative that you start with Pinyin. The software that have been designed for children are very user friendly and also are interactive so that children can have fun while playing with them.

Why You Should Learn Pinyin

As a student or prospecting student of the Chinese language you must have an understanding of the Pinyin system. Pinyin is a Romanization of the Chinese language and was developed in China during the 1950’s. It has been since accepted as the official Romanization of the Chinese characters in China, Singapore, the American Associated Library and the US Library of Congress.

Using Pinyin a person can learn the sound and tones system of the Chinese language without actually needing to learn the characters first. There are 4 basic tones in (Mandarin) Chinese which are:

First tone which is a flat tone,
Second tone which is a rising tone,
Third tone which is a falling rising tones,
and finally the fourth tone which is a falling tones.

Just a simple shift in the tones can convey a different meaning, hence caution must be observed so that no wrong intentions maybe sent across a room. Another example is that ‘c’ in Pinyin has the same meaning as ‘its’ in bits.

Pinyin is an indispensable system for anyone trying to learn Chinese. There are many resources that you can avail on if you want to learn it. Also excellent resources can be found online and are laid out easily. Some more technically advanced websites offer software solutions to help a newbie train in Pinyin; these are designed keeping in mind a person who has never had any instruction in Chinese. Most of these software are also interactive and allow people to explore different options so that they can go at their own pace to master the language.

It must be also be remember that Pinyin as a system is not without its flaws however it is also an indispensable tool for people just getting started into learning Chinese.

Do Not Become Too Dependant on Pinyin

Pinyin is used to teach Chinese to people who will like to get to understand the language without actually having to learn the characters themselves. For those who do not know about Pinyin; this system was developed in China in the 1950’s and has been the official Romanization system used in China, Singapore, and is also recognized by the American Associated Library and the US Library of Congress. The system uses English words and alphabets to convey Chinese sounds and tones, in a way simplifying Chinese by sidestepping the more difficult task of learning its characters.

However although this is a good tool for learning how to speak Chinese, it may end up being counter-productive as far as reading and writing it are concerned. As in any language it is best that you write out the characters while reciting them so that you can gain an understanding in both the written and the verbal expression. People who start learning Chinese often become obsessed with Pinyin to the point where they may forget altogether to try out the written characters themselves. This leads to an incomplete understanding of the language itself and also precious time is lost which could have been used to gain a better understanding of the language in its entirety rather than just one of its forms.

Hence I’ll recommend that people who are just starting out with pinyin to not forsake its written form. A lot of times people will refrain from learning the language because they will think it as too hard to learn. However if you were to proceed gradually into it you will find it easier as time progresses.

Why Learn Pinyin?

Any western person who wants to seriously study Mandarin it is very important to understand the Pinyin form. Now if you are wondering what Pinyin means then it is simply the Romanized Chinese Mandarin Character. This system approximates Chinese mandarin pronunciation with English spelling and informs the user at which pitch to say a word. Without this understanding a non-native will have a really hard time understanding the Chinese system.

Pinyin was developed in Mainland China during the 1950’s and is now the standard Romanized system of China, Singapore the American Library Association and the US Library of Congress. Such a world wide standard also provides for an easier exchange of data between countries.

Such a system is essential to learn the sound of Chinese characters and is designed to familiarize a western or English speaking person with the tonal nature of Chinese. However it must be understood that Pinyin does not follow the English system exactly; the symbols are close to how they are used in English but it must be remembered that they in fact represent Chinese sounds. Pinyin primarily comes in three standard formats:

Hanyu Pinyin – which is the standard model.

Wade Giles – which is a Victorian system used until 1970.

Gwoyeu Romatzyh or GR which means “tonal spelling.”

Learning pinyin will help you understand the Chinese language system much faster and easily. There are plenty of resources that are available on the internet which can facilitate your understanding of Pinyin. Some of these use tables to explain, while others use more advanced software tools to offer a better explanation.

Why You Should Learn Pinyin First

Learning Chinese is something that is becoming rather popular these days. China today, has almost become synonymous with economic growth and everyone it seems wants a piece of it. As China is fast becoming a manufacturing hub for so many corporate enterprises, a lot of them have started demanding bilingual persons who can speak Chinese and English. Hence many persons have rightly started to look for avenues and sources which can help them understand Chinese. However this where most people get frustrated and give up.

Learning Chinese is like learning any other language – it takes patience, dedication and a good approach. It is in the best approach that lies the answer to understanding Chinese. First off Chinese is a tonal language that means the meaning of the word tend to change with the tone with which it is pronounced or said. This is something that is very hard for a person acclimatized to the phonetic, European language system to understand.

This is where Pinyin steps in. Pinyin was developed in China in the 1950’s as a Romanization of the Chinese characters and has become the official Romanized script for Chinese since then. Pinyin is recognized in China, Singapore, the American Library Association and the US Library of Congress. In learning Pinyin it becomes easier for a person using English to understand the Chinese tones while he or she can afford to sidestep the characters.

There are 4 main tones in Chinese which are used to convey the meaning of a word. These are – the flat tone (conveyed by a – above the vowel), the rising tone (conveyed by a / above the vowel) the falling rising tone (conveyed by a v above the vowel) and finally the falling tone (conveyed by a over the vowel). Thus mà means to scold, while mÄÂÂ means mother.

However this is not to say that a student can afford to not learn the Characterization. In fact learning that is very important and must be progressively mastered if the student is to gain a good picture of the Chinese language.

Learn Mandarin Phrases to Travel China

Aloha, Ciao – when you visit China, you should start with ‘ni hao’ (how are you). Whenever traveling a place, it is always good to learn a couple of local phrases. Not only to add extra fun, but to communicate better with local people and get to know what they are talking about.

2008 Beijing Olympics is going to attract thousands of visitors to China. Are you visiting China soon? Let’s have an orientation on the Chinese language – Mandarin.

Before we get to learn Mandarin phrases to travel China, let me introduce some basics of the Chinese language.

1. One Word One Syllable

2. Pinyin (Phonetic) System

The Government of The People’s Republic of China has standardized Mandarin pronunciations and adopted the Pinyin system in 1979. Speak Mandarin and learn Mandarin is made easy for Chinese as well as foreigners.

Each word has a beginning and ending sound. Combine them together and form one syllable. Some words have only an ending sound. Each combination has four tones. Different tone has different meaning. You have to be very carefully with tones or it could mean something else and could be embarrassing.

For some reason, the four different tone symbols don’t show up on this page. I have therefore indicated their tones against each word.

1 macron

2 acute accent

3 caron

4 grave accent

Nothing – light tone

In this article, I am going to introduce 10 easy-to-learn phrases for everyday use. Please practice them before landing in China.

Don’t worry about the pronunciation for now, at the end of this article, I’ll show you a fast track to learn speaking.

EVERYDAY

ni(2) hao(3) – regards

This is the non-question version of ‘how are you’. You won’t expect an answer as you are just sending regards. You can say this whenever seeing someone.

ni(2) hao(3) ma – how are you?

You would expect someone say ‘I’m fine, thank you’ in return.

hen(2) hao(3) – I’m fine

lao(2) jia(4) – excuse me / please / thank you

Usually use to start a conversation, especially when you want to get someone’s help.

It can also mean ‘thank you’ when you receive a little favor.

zao(3) shang(4) hao(3) – good morning

xie(4) xie – thank you

When you buy something, the salesman will say xiè xie to you. You can also say this when receiving a gift.

shi(1) fu – a respectful way to call a driver

Shi fu is someone good at something. Beijing people call drivers Shi fu which is some kind of a compliment meaning he is good at driving. Tourists deal with drivers quite a lot, so it is good to know why drivers are called shi fu.

AT A RESTAURANT

mai(2) dan(1) – give me my bill please

This is a funny Cantonese phrase originated from Hong Kong. It is now widely understood in restaurants in Beijing and other major China cities. You’ll hear this very often in restaurants, especially Hong Kong.

SHOPPING

duo(1) shao(3) qian(2) – how much?

da(3) zhe(2) ma – do you offer discount?

pian(2) yi(2) dian(3) – cheaper please

Learn the pronunciation of these phrases is easy. I am going to give you some quick tips here.

Understanding China

One of the most ordinary mistakes that Westerners tend to make in interacting with the Chinese is to not prepare enough ahead of time. This is a fatal mistake, as thorough preparation is key. In the very own words of Sun Tzu:

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win

It is quite basic really, yet so easy to neglect. To succeed in your business relations with the Chinese it is paramount to learn the ancient cultural forces and traditions that have affected the Chinese mind for thousands of years, and still does today. In fact, there is an emergent need, in general, for a developed understanding of inter cultural interactions in today’s dynamic world. We require tools to reduce cultural gaps and to enhance our understanding toward each other.

To avoid mundane pitfalls, we need to:

– Understand the silent language

– Learn how to interpret hidden meanings

– Identify the concealed rules of the game

As most readers are already quite familiar with common themes, such as: face, guanxi and reciprocity, merely a short recap follows:

1. To cultivate trust, it is of essence to nourish personal relationships with the Chinese.

2. As a Westerner, you need to get into the loop. And once there, you remain there by giving face and nurturing long term mutual benefits.

3. The very beginning of the relationship is particularly important. Tread carefully, and be patient to earn trust and boost guanxi.

4. Forego with a good example and the Chinese will reciprocate. Give favors early on and the Chinese will feel obliged to return the gesture.

Preparation comes in many forms. One of the best and most interesting ways of learning is through storytelling. Certainly, to learn from others’ mistakes and be inspired by others’ successes may be among the most effective ways to learn, next to having to go through the experiences ourselves. Therefore, I am going to share a couple of stories from interviews that I have conducted with senior Western executives with vast experiences in Chinese-Western business relations.

This first story sheds some light on differences in Western vs. Chinese viewpoints when it comes to legal agreements.

Some time ago my former boss told me I was lucky. I was set for the first year because he had already signed five contracts for five new stores. Then I started talking to one of our Chinese partners who had signed those contracts, and nothing seemed to be happening. Finally, my assistant told me, ‘Just because he signed a six-year contract two years ago with your former boss – a person who is not you – does not necessarily imply that he will respect the contract.’ That was a big shock to me since the contract was notarized and everything. But we started to re-negotiate, article by article. Five years later, during the Asian crisis, I invited this same partner to my office and said, ‘Just because I signed a contract with you does not mean I will respect it. We are in a crisis.’ He answered, ‘Fine”‘and we started to re-negotiate.

What can we learn from this experience? In short:

– Quid pro quo

– Reciprocity goes both ways

– Adapt to the system rather than resisting it

– See opportunities, instead of difficulties

Beware that legal contracts can mean less than a handshake to the Chinese. China is a low trust society, and the Chinese have historically had little faith even in their own government. Rather than relying on legal documents, they trust the person behind the contract, i.e. the relationship. Consider this other story on the same topic:

The difference in contract agreements is that our European and American suppliers always have long contract negotiations, where lawyers are involved and much emphasis is placed on the composition of the contracts. Only in China do we get the original back signed. They can actually take the bunch of contract, spread it out like a fan and then take one big red stamp over that, which leaves a small part of the stamp on every page.

Undoubtedly, Westerners and Chinese have different views on legal agreements. We also have different ways of expressing our respect and discontent. Misunderstandings are common. By being sensible and open minded, however, we can learn, adapt to and exploit these discrepancies to our advantage.

Indeed, understanding the silent language and identifying the hidden rules constitute huge advantages normally exclusive for insiders, but also available to sensible Westerners. As you commence to understand the underlying forces – the cultural values and the traditions – you will appreciate how to effectively interact with the Chinese.