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Learning Chinese - Where to begin
Posted by : Parth  [Monday, September 28, 2009]

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A lot of people get intimidated when it comes to learning Chinese. However this fear is rather baseless as learning Chinese is like learning any other language. Any language requires an approach peculiar to it and the same dictum must be applied when it comes to learning Chinese. As Chinese is of a tonal and pictographic nature, a student especially one who’s primary language is a phonetic western dialect will find it a bit absurd and different in the beginning, however if he or she took the right approach to it, then learning Chinese will not be that hard a task.

Fortunately for those serious about learning Chinese a system of Romanized Chinese exists which can aid them. This system is called Pinyin and was developed in 1950’s. This system is recognized in China, and Singapore apart from the American Library Association and the US Library of Congress. With this system the student can afford to overlook the tougher pictographic Chinese characters while focusing on the tones and pronunciation.

In Chinese a simple shift in tones can change the meaning of the word. As this will be a very new concept for people used to the phonetic scripts. Hence it is advised that you begin here. Using Pinyin you can understand the 4 basic tones of Chinese which are the flat tone, the rising tone, the falling rising tone and the falling tone. As said above a change in the tone can change the meaning of the word, thus mà said with a tone which is falling means to express anger against something or someone while m? spoken with a tone which is flat means mother.

As you progress you will gain a good understanding of how the Chinese language system works. You should also start to practice the written scripts so that you can gain an understanding of the character system as well.
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