Monday, March 15, 2010

nǐ hǎo! Xiànzài wǒ zài xué Zhōngwén.

The trial to learning French has been decently successful however Mandarin  ended unsuccessfully; thanks to my indiscipline, I kept learning Lesson No.1 for an year which was only the numbers.

French, I wanted to learn, as I regretted  on missing out the opportunity to learn it during the college days.I am done with  learning and unlearning French now. :)

I felt alien, if I was unable to talk the local language. Being a Malayalee( a native of Kerala in India), my summer vacation of 2 months at Kerala, was not delightful at times, as I could not read the language.I had to be dependent on my parents or cousins or fellow passengers, for, while travelling specially, knowledge of  Malayalam alphabetic script was essential. Indian languages though look different and sound different, are more similar and standardized in a specific manner. Learning a new one is hence easier and successfully learnt Malayalam(Reading). I have started reading(lower beginner class) and speaking (upper beginner class) Tamil. Thanks to multi lingual Singapore.

But, when it comes to international languages, a basic course helps, to understand the building blocks and build on from there on through need based communication.

I have now enrolled myself at an Adult Mandarin Class in the Community Club, close to my house, so I don't take the trouble of travelling and miss my class quoting it as a reason. The teacher has been very kind and patient to the amusing noises we make as we try to get the right tone of the word. This language deals with the 4 tones. The right tone would signify the right meaning. The Chinese characters  do not show how the words need to sound and since Chinese is a tonal language, Pinyin (phonetic romanized form of Chinese) form was developed which helps write the tone and understand them. The Pinyin uses English alphabets in conjunction with diacritical marks over the syllables to convey the tone. However, the alphabets are not pronounced as in English. The sound is different for different alphabets.

For example b is not b, but is pronounced p as in spin, q is ch.

The four tones: 
First Tone: : High and Level - Meaning of the word is "eight"
Second Tone: bá : Starts at Medium and rises to the top  
Third Tone: : Starts low, dips to the bottom and rises to the top.
Fourth Tone:  : Starts at the top and falls sharp to the bottom- Meaning of the word is "Father"

The last one, a toneless tone or a neutral tone: ba :  Flat with no emphasis.

It has been an interesting journey so far and feels very easy :)

Finally for the question

What I am up to?

Well, I am a student! .:)

To summerize, 

I can perfectly count 1-10 in 4 local Indian languages : Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and 3 international languages : English., French, Mandarin! 

and a  little more too, in few of the above mentioned languages !

The title means: Hello! I am learning Chinese! 
I am sure of the first part, the second part was picked from the search results, so please correct me if I am wrong.

For those who are wondering if I will be able to read and write Mandarin/Chinese, for now, I am learning only the spoken Mandarin and trying to read at least a few simple words. Hope I will  successfully read Mandarin fluently some day.

The following lines were taken from the net about Chinese Language " Altogether, there are about 50,000 characters, known as pictographs. In 1950s and 60s, China went through the language reform movement and 2000 characters were simplified. You need around 2000 characters to be able to read and write."

So 2000 characters is the target!