Learning Chinese has become common in Singapore and many Western countries. More and more people are taking to the internet to look for basic facts about it before enrolling in classes. Additionally, Singaporeans tend to use Chinese in many social settings. This means that learning Chinese as well as facts about the language is inevitable if you intend to spend time in Singapore. Before you begin learning, it is essential to learn some of the basic facts about Chinese.
- Chinese Dialect Groups
Chinese is an umbrella term for different dialect groups including Mandarin, Minnan, and Cantonese. Chinese has over a billion speakers all over the world. This means over 15% of the global population worldwide uses Chinese. It is also one of the six official United Nations languages and second most popular language in the United States.
- Chinese Grammar
Chinese grammar is one of the easiest to learn. It lacks verb conjugations, and there is no distinction between plural and singular pronouns. You will not have to worry about tenses since most words are expressed using time indicators such as yesterday and tomorrow.
Chinese is a tonal language where each of them is used to make a distinction between different words. For example, “ma” in Chinese has four different meanings which include ‘mother,’ ‘a horse,’ ‘hemp,’ and ‘to scold.’ The four common tones are flat, rising, falling then rising, and falling. An additional fifth one is a neutral tone. Learning these tones can be a daunting task for anyone, but you will eventually get the hang of it after continuous practise.
- Learning Chinese will Help You Unlock a different Part of Your Brain
English speakers only use the left side of the brain while Chinese speakers tend to use both temporal lobes. Chinese requires you to learn the words and ideal intonations hence activating both the left and right sides of your brain.
- Characters and Not Alphabets
Unlike English that uses the 26 alphabetical letters, Chinese uses thousands of stand-alone characters. The most advanced Chinese dictionaries have over 100,000 characters, and Chinese scholars are still developing new ones every day. However, you only require a total of 2000-3000 characters for you to read the Chinese newspaper comfortably. The character can be written from any direction, for example, top to bottom, right to left or left to right.
- Pinyin Made Learning Chinese Easier
There are no alphabets in the Chinese language, but they have Roman characters called Pinyin. The Chinese created Pinyin in the 1950s to help foreigners learn the language more efficiently without the burden of memorising thousands of characters.
There is No Relationship Between Chinese and Japanese
Most people think that Chinese and Japanese are similar, but there is no relationship between the two languages. Japanese derived most of its characters from old Chinese, but their pronunciation of the characters is very different. However, learning Chinese is easier if you have a Japanese origin and vice versa.
Chinese is increasingly growing in popularity globally with more and more people are showing interest to learn Chinese in Singapore. There is a widespread belief of Chinese being a hard language to learn, but you can learn it quickly given the right attitude and motivation. You just have to learn the proper tones, a few basic characters and every other effort put in learning the language will be easier.