Anyone who starts learning Mandarin has made something special. Mandarin, the standard Chinese, is one of the most difficult languages in the education world. There are 5 truths that very few people know before they start using the language.
In my other post on learning Mandarin, “Which Chinese should I learn?” I already explained the difference between Mandarin and Chinese. In a nutshell: Mandarin is “Standard Chinese”, while “Chinese” is the collective term for all Chinese languages and dialects. That means, whether Cantonese or Mandarin or Shanghai, “they are all Chinese. Mandarin is also spoken as standard Chinese in Taiwan, while many dialects are also spoken.
Before You Begin:
Mandarin is not a language, it is made up of two languages: one written and one spoken.
While languages such as English use “writing” as a link between what is spoken and what is written, there are two parallel languages in Mandarin: a written language – the Chinese characters – and a spoken language – pinyin. Pinyin only describes the pronunciation and does not contribute anything to the structure of the language. Pinyin has a single function: it serves to be able to pronounce the writing – the characters. That is why learning Mandarin is particularly difficult for most Indo-European native speakers because they assume that writing is “automatically” an aid to what one speaks, while when learning Mandarin one quickly realizes that one is actually learning two languages at the same time.
Mandarin has no letters – not what you perceive as letters.
Once you have understood the first point, the text is particularly easy to understand. Mandarin has no letters – although the pronunciation system ( pinyin ) is made up of letters, these do not form the language, but instead use a written form to reproduce how a character – i.e. written Chinese – is pronounced.
When you learn Mandarin while using Pinyin that for example the word “(lamp) is pronounced as“ dēng ”. However, it would not work if you tried to create another Chinese word from the same letters. Not only that, you can’t just create a new word or character from other letters at all. Because 灯 “dēng” serves as a “root” with the basic meaning “lamp”. Word formation works with the base of 灯 (dēng) anyway. In this case, even “traffic light” would fit, because 红绿灯 (hóng lǜ dēng) literally means “red-green lamp” or traffic light. The word with the root “lamp” will be expanded further.
Since “palm” has absolutely nothing to do with the lamp, it of course has nothing to do with dēng.
Learning Mandarin is easy!
Because Mandarin has no grammar – not what you call grammar.
In my other article I wrote “Intensive Chinese Course: Forget Vocabulary! Learn “sentence treasure”! ” Rather explains in detail how Chinese works, especially that grammar is there virtually absent.
In a nutshell: There is no grammar in Mandarin and that makes learning Mandarin particularly easy.