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Why learn Pinyin first
Posted by : Parth  [Wednesday, October 28, 2009]
Learning Chinese is something that is becoming rather popular these days. China today, has almost become synonymous with economic growth and everyone it seems wants a piece of it. As China is fast becoming a manufacturing hub for so many corporate enterprises, a lot of them have started demanding bilingual persons who can speak Chinese and English. Hence many persons have rightly started to look for avenues and sources which can help them understand Chinese. However this where most people get frustrated and give up. Learning Chinese is like learning any other language – it takes patience, dedication and a good approach. It is in the best approach that lies the answer to understanding Chinese. First off Chinese is a tonal language that means the meaning of the word tend to change with the tone with which it is pronounced or said. This is something that is very hard for a person acclimatized to the phonetic, European language system to understand.

This is where Pinyin steps in. Pinyin was developed in China in the 1950’s as a Romanization of the Chinese characters and has become the official Romanized script for Chinese since then. Pinyin is recognized in China, Singapore, the American Library Association and the US Library of Congress. In learning Pinyin it becomes easier for a person using English to understand the Chinese tones while he or she can afford to sidestep the characters.

There are 4 main tones in Chinese which are used to convey the meaning of a word. These are – the flat tone (conveyed by a – above the vowel), the rising tone (conveyed by a / above the vowel) the falling rising tone (conveyed by a v above the vowel) and finally the falling tone (conveyed by a \ over the vowel). Thus mà means to scold, while m? means mother.

However this is not to say that a student can afford to not learn the Characterization. In fact learning that is very important and must be progressively mastered if the student is to gain a good picture of the Chinese language.
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