The University of Nottingham Ningbo China


Mandarin is the state language of China, used by the government and in the schools. Although there are many Chinese dialects, Mandarin is used by most Chinese people. It is the only dialect that has a corresponding written form of the language. Mandarin is often referred to as Standard Chinese, or even just Chinese. It is probably one of the most fascinating languages in the world. With over 1 billion speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. Mandarin is originally specifically of the Beijing dialect.

The word itself, Mandarin, originally comes from the word for an official government worker of the Chinese empire. For many people, this is also the language of the future, with China becoming more powerful every year and a huge economy that buys and sells all over the world.

Chinese grammar does not use tenses, such as past, present or future. Instead, the importance of a topic is shown by its prominence in the sentence. With a combination of markers of modality and aspect markers, single syllables are used that can change the entire meaning of the sentence. While they do not denote time, they do show that the subject of the sentence has changed status, passively implying the passage of time.

Mandarin is not a phonetic language. The pronunciation is not related to the writing of Chinese characters. Pinyin (pronouncing the sound) is created for people to learn Mandarin pronunciation. Pinyin is a way to transcribe Chinese characters so people can pronounce it. The writing of Pinyin is similar to English alphabet.

Mandarin has more musical sounds (vowels) than noise (consonants). Except for nasal sound like "n" and "m", all Chinese syllables ends with vowels (final sounds). The consonants at the beginning of a syllable are called (initial sounds). Most of Mandarin sounds are Easy for English speaker to pronounce but some sounds are difficult and require more practice.

Politeness is a very important thing to be aware of in Mandarin. There are many ways of addressing someone, and before you do, you must be aware of their status in relation to you. Sometimes, when you are becoming familiar with someone, they will ask you to call them “aunt” or “uncle”. In the Mandarin language, this is simply a sign of respect and while the polite implication is that you should consider them to be family, you should still treat them as you would someone you are getting to know.

Learn more about Chinese history, people and languages, please visit Why Study Abroad in China

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