Discover These Surprising Facts About Chinese For Yourself
Just how much do you know about the Chinese language? Whether it’s a language you’ve been learning for a while, or a language that’s totally foreign to you, chances are, there are some fascinating things you still don’t know about the language!
As what you would expect with a language with thousands of years of history behind it, the Chinese language is full of interesting stories. Find out more about some of these surprising facts!
1. Chinese is the only surviving logographic language today
While most other languages make use of some form of alphabetic system to symbolise sounds, Chinese is the only language that uses symbols to represent the meaning of the words. Long ago, these symbols were almost like pictures – for example, the word for ‘fish’ would look like a drawing of a fish.
However, over time, simplification and conventionalisation have led to these pictures resembling less like what they mean. Thus, some linguists prefer to call modern Chinese a logographic language, rather than pictographic.
Other pictographic systems like the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cuneiform has long fallen into obscurity, while other existing pictographic scripts like Japanese kanji and Sawndip were mostly inspired by Chinese characters as well. While the logographic nature of Chinese script makes it very rich with meaning and history, it is also one of the reasons why new learners say Chinese is so difficult to learn!
2. Chinese is not one language
Most people today tend to understand ‘Chinese’ as referring to Mandarin Chinese, but the truth is, Chinese encompasses a whole range of languages and dialects that originate from people in China! These variants of Chinese are spoken in various regions across China, and some have also developed enough to become languages in their own rights.
Some of these Chinese languages and dialects include Shanghainese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, and many more. While some of these languages are primarily spoken tongues, many also use the same Chinese script – the meanings of the words largely remain the same, but the pronunciation is different.
So, if you want to learn Chinese, you need to be clear of what language you are actually learning. Is it Mandarin, Cantonese, or something else? Once you’ve mastered one of them, it also opens the doors to picking up the many other Chinese languages due to their shared similarities.
3. Mandarin does not have a word for ‘yes’
Yes, you read that right! The word that people commonly translate to ‘yes’ is more accurately interpreted as ‘is’. For example, if someone asks ‘Is that a bird?’ You would answer ‘(That) is.’ Another common way to say ‘yes’ is to say ‘correct’.
For other cases, an affirmation depends on the question asked. For example, if someone were to ask you ‘Is the picture clear?’, you’d have to answer ‘Clear’, rather than ‘yes’.
In casual settings, you can also opt to just nod and say ‘ng’, which is equivalent to an affirmative ‘mm’ or ‘yup’ in English.
Unravel the wonders of Mandarin
Just these 3 fun facts alone will give you enough to see Mandarin Chinese in a new light! Indeed, Chinese is full of surprises and meaning, making it a very fulfilling language to learn.
If you want to unlock the mysteries of the language for yourself, why not find a course to learn Chinese in Singapore? Apart from its intriguing nature, learning Chinese also has a host of benefits like giving you wider career options, enriching your cognitive mind, and more.
Learning Chinese in a professional course will equip you with all you need to master the language in a nurturing and engaging environment. Get on board to learn Chinese today!