Mandarin for dummies

So in another thread, http://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?t=71106&highlight= , after 30 pages of arguing the need to study Chinese, let’s start a thread so that we can make everyday language easier. Since it’s Mandarin for DUMMIES , let’s stick with hanyu pinyin. Any pointers and sample sentences and phrases appreciated.

First go to www.pinyin.info and download the romanization chart.
A good pinyin dictionary is very helpful. Far East Book Company has a few good ones.

I like the Chinese-English version so that if I hear a word I can look it up phonetically without having to know characters or stroke order.

The electronic dictionaries you see everywhere here are pretty useless for us because most don’t have Pinyin. :fume:

But if your cellphone is 3G, a handy site to point your phone’s browser to is www.mdgb.net . It is a nice pinyin dictionary and it even has the sounds in MP3.

Next you will need a good everyday conversation book. There are several out there.
Far East Everyday Chinese is a good one. http://eng.fareast.com.tw


Another is PAC from Shi Da uni.

You could also download Pimsleur from a torrent.

Let me add DeFrancis’s Comprehensive ABC Chinese-English dictionary to that list; like the one you mentioned, if you hear a word you can look it up phonetically without having to know characters or stroke order, and it’s big and comprehensive enough that you won’t be frustrated so often by failures to find the entry you want.

Connecting words, question words, prepositions:
yīn wéi /because/owing to/on account of/
kě shì /but/however/
zhēn /real/true/genuine/
rán hòu /after/then (afterwards)/after that/afterwards/
wèi shěn me /why/for what reason/
jī diǎn /what time?/when?/
shén /what/
shén me /what/
shén me shì /what is …?/

gēn /to follow/to go with/heel/with/and/
yì qǐ /together/

bù /(negative prefix)/not/no/

yě /also/too/
duì bù qì /I’m sorry/pardon me/forgive me/
qǐng wèn /may I ask…/
huò zhě /or/possibly/maybe/perhaps/
qǐng /to ask/to invite/please (do sth)/to treat (to a meal, etc)/to request/

Measure words:

ge - general measure word. EX yi ge ren - one person, or if your at a bar and a xiao jia asks, you have just been hit on.

bei - cup yi bei kala or yi bei kafe - one cup of cola, coffee

wan - bowl yi wan fan yi wan tang - one bowl rice, soup

Madarin for Dummies should start with “Study hard, real hard, study harder, then repeat”

Numbers:
yi one
er4 two also liang if used with a measure word, eg. liang bei kafe
san three
si4 four
wu3 five
liao4 six
qi seven
ba eight
jiu3 nine
shi2 ten

The three most important words to know in Chinese (indeed, in any language):

ni3 hao3: hello
xie4 xie: thank you
pi2 jiu3: beer

That’s a mainland pronunciation. In Taiwan, most people pronounce the “wei” in the 4th tone.

“ji” is third tone, but it’s pronounced as a second tone (because it precedes a third tone).

I’ve never heard anyone say this. shénme is preferable.

qi should be in the 3rd tone.

And after all that, in Taiwan at least pay say.

HG

Good thread…

Hanyu Pinyin, Wade Giles, Romawhdjamawhat…are farking USELESS for pronunciation. IMHO.
Foreigners using this system of pronunciation more often than not sound like they have mush in the mouth when speaking Chinese.
The MPS…takes less than 6 hours to learn on your own with a cassette tape.
yellowbridge.com/chinese/syllabary.php

Then any new vocab you pick up along the way…you can ask your Chinese friend to write it down…with the Correct pronunciation.

Saves you a lot of wasted hours relearning bastardized pronunciations.

OR zhongwen.com/
The book is excellent.
amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ … /zipubooks

Doesn’t matter what system of squiggles you use to record sounds, as long as you say them properly.

110% correct.

It was just far more useful for me to pick up vocab using a system that the locals all know.

110% correct.

It was just far more useful for me to pick up vocab using a system that the locals all know.[/quote]

Oh, locals. You were confusing me with all that stuff about “Chinese friends.”

[quote]
Oh, locals. You were confusing me with all that stuff about “Chinese friends.”[/quote]
Doesn’t take much does it…?

…are you being deliberately daft or looking for a pissing contest?

About the electronic dictionaries the Besta (無敵) range have pinyin and pretty good Chinese-Chinese and Chinese-English dictionaries. I also found the Cambridge English dictionary useful for teaching English.

[quote=“SoulDragoN”]The MPS…takes less than 6 hours to learn on your own with a cassette tape.
yellowbridge.com/Chinese/syllabary.php

Then any new vocab you pick up along the way…you can ask your Chinese friend to write it down…with the Correct pronunciation.
[/quote]

Bopomofo is useful in this regard…the locals use it and understand it, and you can get them to write down pronunciations.

But it pays to be mindful that even locals can write down the wrong pronunciation…I said “shui dao” (tunnel) for years before learning it’s actually “sui dao”.