CHINESE LANGUAGE

Ni hao! Hello and welcome to the Chinese Language page! I'm your host, Ma Xiao Qi. On these pages, you can hear me speaking and singing Chinese and read the translations and explanations of what I am saying. Wan de kai xin! (Have fun!)

Click on the ear next to a selection to hear me speaking or singing in Chinese, then read what I am saying or singing.

INTRODUCTION

Ni hao. Wo jiao ma xiao qi. Wo shi qi sui. Hello, my name is Ma Xiao Qi. Iím seven years old.

POEM #1

Bai ri yi shan jin
Huang he ru hai liu
Yu qiong qian li mu
Gen shang yi ceng lou


The white sun is fading at the end of all the mountains
The Yellow River flows into the ocean
If you want to see farther
You need to go up to a higher level

POEM #2

E, e, e
Qu xiang xiang tian ge.
Bai mao fu lu shui
Hong zhang bo qin bo


Geese, geese, geese
Singing to the sky with their necks crooked
White hair floats above the green water
Red webs push the waves lightly

POEM #3

Chu he ri dang u
Han di he xia tu
She zhi pan zhong can
Li li jie xin ku

Working in the fields against the powerful sun in the middle of the day
Sweats dripping down to the soil underneath
Do you consider the food in your plate
Every piece of rice is from hard work

SONG

TONES #1 -- BO
TONES #2 -- MA

TONES #3 -- WU

TONES #4 -- ZHEN

EXPLANATION

Here, Ma Xiao Qi is demonstrating the four tones in the Chinese language, using four different syllables: bo, ma, wu and zhen. She is saying each syllable four times, one for each tone, starting with the first tone which is flat, then saying the second tone which rises, the third tone which descends and then rises and the fourth tone which descends. So, she is actually saying sixteen different words. Can you differentiate the different tones?

NOTE: Chinese is traditionally written in characters, not letters. Here, though, so you can read it, we are using pinyin -- a method of writing Chinese characters using the western alphabet. Since Chinese has four different tones, accent marks are usually written over pinyin syllables to indicate the tone. For simplicity, we are leaving the accent marks out here. Chinese is mostly monosyllabic: that is, almost all of its words are one syllable long. It is also a language with many homophones -- words that sound the same but have different meanings. In written Chinese, it is easy to differentiate the homophones because each has a different character. In spoken Chinese and when using pinyin, one must rely on tone accent marks and the context to differentiate.

Student to Student Language Lab

 

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