Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some basic Chinese sentences

I have already talked about different ways of saying Hello in Chinese language. Now let’s go a step further and learn some basic Chinese sentences. Here are some of the first questions you will learn in any language:

你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?): What is your name?

你多大?(Nǐ duōdà?): How old are you?

你是哪国人?(Nǐ shì nǎ guórén?): Which country are you from?

And this is how you respond

我叫马思文 (Wǒ jiào Mǎ Sī Wén): My name is Ma Si Wen

我四十岁 (Wǒ sì shí suì): I am forty years old

A little tongue twister for you, I am not really forty years old.

我是巴西人 (Wǒ shì bāxī rén): I am Brazilian

And just trying to be cool here, not from Brazil either.

Textbook learning however doesn't always help. Once a stranger in China asked me where I was from:

你是从哪里来的?(Nǐ shì cóng nǎlǐ lái de?): Where are you from?

I had no clue what she was talking about because I only understood “Nǐ shì nǎ guórén?”

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to say Obama in Chinese?

I came across this interesting article on Obama’s name in Chinese language

“Until now, Chinese media have always pronounced it AO-BA-MA. But the US embassy has now decided to change it to OU-BA-MA, saying it sounds more accurate.

This has caused outrage in China because the new pronunciation is the same as the one used in Taiwan.”

I had however always thought that Obama was pronounced AO-BA-MA in Chinese language

奥巴马(Àobāmǎ): Obama

巴拉克 奥巴马(Bālākè Àobāmǎ): Barack Obama

总统(zǒngtǒng): President

美国总统奥巴马(Měiguó zǒngtǒng Àobāmǎ): US President Obama

Here is an interesting video.

Be careful with your tones.

布什(Bùshí): Bush (George Bush)

不是(bùshì): not/is not

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are you cool?

Few months ago CNN published a list of coolest nationalities. Even though I don’t agree with some of them, I thought it was a good way for me to practice country names in Chinese language. So here are the coolest nationalities:


The world’s coolest nationalities

1. 巴西 (Bāxī) : Brazil

2. 新加坡 (Xīnjiāpō) : Singapore

3. 牙买加 (Yámǎijiā) : Jamaica

4. 蒙古(Ménggǔ) : Mongolia

5. 美国 (Měiguó) : United States

6. 西班牙(Xībānyá) : Spain

7. 日本 (Rìběn) : Japan

8. 博茨瓦纳 (Bócíwǎ) : Botswana

9. 中国 (Zhōngguó) : China

10. 澳大利亚(Àodàlìyǎ): Australia

11. 尼泊尔 (Níbóěr) : Nepal

12. 比利时 (Bǐlìshí) : Belgium

13. 土耳其 (Tǔěrqí) : Turkey

Don’t worry if you are not from one of these countries. You can still be cool if you learn how to say them all in Chinese language.

By the way this is how you say cool in Chinese language

(kù): cool

我很酷(Wǒ hěn kù): I am very cool

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Want some fast food?

Will you believe that the first time I had KFC was in China? Well, it was hard to avoid KFC since they were everywhere in China. The American fast food companies have been lured by the size of Chinese population and their appetite for fast food. No wonder one new KFC is opened in mainland China almost every day. Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, plans to eventually open at least 20,000 fast food outlets in mainland China.

If you want to fit into the Chinese fast food culture, here are some Chinese words worth learning:

肯德基(Kěndéjī): KFC

麦当劳(Màidāngláo): McDonald’s

必胜客(Bì shèng kè): Pizza Hut

汉堡包(hànbǎobāo): hamburger

比萨(bǐsà): pizza

三明治(sānmíngzhì): sandwich

可口可乐(Kěkǒukělè): Coca Cola

百事可乐(Bǎishìkělè): Pepsi

I ate a lot more hamburgers in China than I normally would. I think it was also partly because I liked the way it sounds in Chinese. Doesn’t hànbǎobāo just sound fun to eat?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chinese tongue twister

Like every other language, Chinese has tongue twisters too. But what makes Chinese tongue twisters more challenging is that you don’t have to worry only about pronunciation but also tones. Below is a good example.





sì shì sì

4 is 4


shí shì shí

10 is 10


shí sì shì shí sì

14 is 14


sì shí shì sì shí

40 is 40


sì shí sì shì sì shí sì

44 is 44


sì shí sì zhǐ shí shīzi shì sǐ de

44 stone lions are dead

This is usually the first tongue twister taught in Chinese classrooms. It was definitely the first for me. I struggle with s and sh sounds and this tongue twister was a nightmare for me. Let me know how you find it.

And do you think you can do better than Jackie Chan?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tea or Coffee?

It is definitely tea for the Chinese people, and Starbucks Coffee has finally discovered that as well. I was actually really surprised by the success of Starbucks in a tea-drinking China, with stores open in places ranging from the Forbidden City in Beijing (which later got replaced by a traditional Chinese teahouse due to protests) to the Great Wall of China. But Starbucks has finally realized that it can’t survive by mainly selling coffee in a country with 200 million regular tea drinkers and has decided to add nine new tea drinks to its menu.

Here are some Chinese words to help you get your Starbucks tea in China

(chá): tea

绿(lǜchá): green tea

喝茶 (hē chá): drink tea

我喜欢喝绿(wǒ xǐhuan hē lǜchá): I like to drink green tea

茶馆(cháguǎn): teahouse

星巴克(Xīngbakè): Starbucks

But if you insist on getting coffee

咖啡(kāfēi): coffee

咖啡馆(Kāfēi guǎn): coffeehouse

And if you are like me and think tea is better

茶比咖啡好(chá bǐ kāfēi hǎo): Tea is better than coffee

Remember the comparison structure we learned earlier?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kan Guo Lai

I believe that learning a song is a great way to learn a language, and my Chinese teachers thought so too. Today I will share with you all the first song I was taught in my Chinese class, which also happens to be one of my favorite Chinese songs. In my opinion, this is also the most popular Chinese song among foreigners. That is the reason why it is sung not only in Chinese classrooms but also in Karaoke bars across China.



duìmiàn de nǚhái kàn guòlái


kàn guòlái, kàn guòlái


zhèlǐ de biǎoyǎn hěn jīngcǎi


qǐng bùyào jiǎzhuāng bù lǐ bù cǎi


duìmiàn de nǚhái kàn guòlái


kàn guòlái, kàn guòlái


bùyào bèi wǒde yàngzi xià huài


qíshí wǒ hěn kěài

Here is the English translation

Girl from across, look over here

Look over here, look over here

The performance is very spectacular

Please don’t pretend to ignore me

Girl from across, look over here

Look over here, look over here

Don’t be frightened by my appearance

Really, I am very cute!

And this is how it ends…


Āi. . . suàn le, huí jiā ba

Ah…forget it, let’s go home

This is a really fun song. Hope you will enjoy it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lucky Beijing Olympics

The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics took place at 8 pm on August 8, 2008 (08/08/08). Did you notice too many 8s in that sentence? Why did China choose that particular time for the opening ceremony? It is because 8 is considered a lucky number in China just like 7 is considered lucky in many other parts of the world. That is why the more 8s you have in your phone number the luckier you are. China’s Sichuan Airlines paid about US$280,000 to register the phone number 8888-8888. But why is 8 considered lucky?

(): 8

(): to make a fortune

As you can see above, in Chinese language 8 sounds very similar to the word which means “to make a fortune”. Now that explains why a lot of Chinese couples were getting married on the day of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics. And that record was broken a year later on September 9, 2009. Yes, you guessed it right. 9 must sound like something with a good meaning too.

(jiǔ): 9

(jiǔ): forever

Those couples were hoping that their wedding will last forever. And, what about the unlucky number? No it’s not 13. Here is a hint.

(Source: click here)

As you might have noticed the elevator in this building in China is missing the 4th floor. Let’s find out what 4 sounds like.

(): 4

(sǐ): death

No wonder its considered unlucky. And, here are the remaining numbers:

(): 1

(èr): 2

(sān): 3

(wǔ): 5

(liù): 6

(): 7